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I play drums in a few local bands. One of them is a touring band, but all of them are money-losing operations, which sucks, but none of them are the kind of music that is going to be popular. There’s a dude here in [redacted] with an indie rock band. Not terrible, but not really my thing. He’s a big fan of one of my bands and asked me if I would join his full time. The thing is, he’s a trust-fund kid and playing in his band is a salaried gig. The money is better than my temp job. Everyone in the scene knows his deal (the band’s “van” is a Lexus SUV) and so joining the band would be embarrassing. I’d have to quit my other bands, which sucks. Should I do it?
As far as ethical work goes, taking money from a rich kid is about as clean as it gets in some regards; there are much sleazier and more soul-killing ways of earning a living. There are much more fatiguing ways to milk a questionable situation. Plus, most people are in mediocre bands for free.
You’re very clear on what you are getting into here. I imagine if this dude is paying people to be in his vanity Pavement cover band or whatever it is, he’s probably been buying friends and loyalty his entire life, so it’s not like he doesn’t know what the deal is, too. Sure, your friends will mock you, but until they start paying your rent and bills for you they can fuck off. You can spend your days doing things to enrich your life or being useful to the world, and nights in his practice space. Maybe it will whittle your self-respect a little –though just being alive in America in 2014 does that anyway. I say go for it. Get that money! It’s probably his grandparents’ anyway.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on September 16, 2014