Shawn Jones and Sam Bolle
VenturaRocks.com has made it our mission to help Ventura’s music scene come to life. A local musician who has been gigging on Main Street for over 40 years recently commented that this is the best of times. I agree. But I think it can be even better.
I’m not going to lie, I’m still learning a lot about the music scene. I don’t pretend to know it all, but there are a few things I know for certain and one of them is that individuals who create art are among the most worthy in our society. They make life bearable. They create beauty, and soulfulness. Without art, life would be dull. Just look at your surroundings, Ventura is beautiful. Yes, the hillsides, two trees, the ocean and our rivers are amazing, but aesthetically speaking, we have a lot of beauty within our town too. Well kept homes, well-designed buildings, historical landmarks are preserved, we have art on display, we have music in our venues, we have people volunteering their time to improve conditions…it’s really quite amazing what we have in our town. If you take the time to look, I think you too will find that it’s truly beautiful.
I know I tend to look at the glass half full and sometimes you have to dig in deep and confront issues you’d rather not. I’m no Pollyanna and I know our society has a long ways to go: We have homeless panhandling and not accepting a hand up. Crime rate and drug abuse (usually going hand in hand) continues to plague us. The economy is slowly recovering but jobless rate is still a problem and City services to continue to take a hit.
But I knew something could be done to make a difference in this town, and helping the economy and supporting our musicians, by helping to promote your gigs just felt like the right thing to do. I still believe that 100%.
Creating harmony, affinity and beauty and making someone feel better should never be overrated. People coming together and listening to music that moves them and inspires them, that’s something magical.
Don’t get me wrong, I love a punk show to work out the aggressions as much as the next person, but I also love our jazz, I love our rockers, I love our folk heroes who bear their souls each and every performance. You guys are so incredible!
You get it right? Artists are important to our society.
So that being said, I want you to know where I’m coming from as I carefully broach the subject of exploitation. And while yes, at least 90% of our promoters are FABULOUS, there is a bad element out there that has landed on our radar and we’re at a crossroads on how to deal with them. These are the promoters who have no intention of paying the bands who play at their events, yet they’re making money off of them. That my friend is called exploitation. Worse yet, there are the promoters who ask the bands to pay them to be a part of their event.
Of course there will always be the argument that the band will get exposure they normally wouldn’t get. I can absolutely get that, IF you’re opening up for Green Day at the Ventura Theater; or you’re about to play in front of thousands of people at one of the bigger shows. Or being a part of an event like Local Rock Picnic where everyone is doing their part to pull off an event for the “greater good”. And of course there’s the newer artist coming on the scene who needs to prove their own worth and I wouldn’t begrudge them playing for exposure to get the ball rolling.
I’m not walking in your shoes, so I try not to judge. But know this, I have your back and I’m watching out for you.
Also, we might as well confront the fact that a number of venues do not pay their musical talent. That’s a hard one. We know the economy is getting better, so we hope their purse strings are loosening up. If the artists help increase business, then they should be compensated!
And while we’re at it, the venues who do provide music and no cover? Patrons need to put in exchange with them as well! Buy dinner. Buy a beverage or two. Because if everyone were to show up and then not pay for anything, I promise you this, these guys WILL GO OUT OF BUSINESS.
So in conclusion…Artists are what make this society a joy to be a part of.
If you are an artist, do not underestimate your worth. We don’t. You are worthy and we are here to help you.