Pay Artists

Hey friends, the outpouring of support on this issue has been huge. We were feeling crushed at the end of the night of that show after a stellar set but your stories and encouragement mean the world. There’s still a lot of work to be done and I’ve been part of many conversations and have been encouraged to continue to fight for fair compensation for artists and musicians.

I wanted to share that the promoter reached out and that we had an honest conversation regarding what went down and have come to a resolution on the matter. While it’s still disappointing that we made so little at the show, we don’t believe that this was due to any deceitful behavior from the promoter. Rather it was a perfect storm of events combined with a severe lack of communication that led to this situation. Throughout the conversation the promoter acted with integrity, dignity, understanding and, most importantly, respect. 

When we wrote our initial letter, we didn’t set out to burn bridges or to trash a promoter’s reputation. Because of this we were able to walk away from this interaction without animosity. This is how we, as a community, can start to build something better. And while we are still sticking to our guns that artists deserve to be paid, we still have faith that there are good actors out there in the greater music ecosystem and that together we can find a way for artists to be fairly compensated for their work. 

Let’s grow this together.

Love, 

Joey Chaos and The Ghosts

the original open letter is below

Artists deserve to be paid for their art. It’s taboo to speak about money in the music scene and this is something that fuels the unbalanced power dynamic between artists and promoter. Motivated by the support from their friends, family, and label, Joey Chaos and The Ghosts have penned an open letter to the Vancouver music scene. Here it is.

This is an open letter on behalf of every artist who has been screwed by the lack of transparency and accountability in the Vancouver music industry.

We recently played our first show since the onset of the pandemic to a sold-out crowd in a medium-size venue. We provided the backline for all the artists, worked hard to promote the show, and succeeded in thrilling those in the audience. (We have the footage to prove it.)

Attendance was estimated to be between 70 and100 people who paid $15–20 each to attend. Even at the low end of the spectrum, at least $1,000 should have been made at the door. Clearly, we’re not in this for the money — we all have day jobs. But it’s the blatant lack of respect that really burns us.

At the end of the night when I was checking my gear the promoter came up to me and said, “Great set. We unfortunately barely broke even tonight, but I want to make sure everyone gets a little something.” He then handed me $50 and proceeded to walk away.

It was a slap in the face. Not just to us but to our friends, family and fans, who believe that they’re supporting our art financially when instead it goes right into the pocket of the promoter. The total absence of integrity on the part of promoters shamelessly ripping off opening artists — who often lack agency and bargaining power in these transactions — is frankly insulting.

We certainly hope the other acts fared better than us that night. But if this is a return to business- as-usual in the Vancouver music scene, what is the normal that we’re returning to? A handful of monopolistic production companies who continue to chew through opening acts paid in exposure, and the misleading promise of more shows if you play along?

I’ve promoted events before. I get it, it can be tough. We’re not heartless either. If we open for a headliner and twenty people show up, then yes, we would understand that money might be tight. But if it’s a sold-out show and you can’t pay the opening acts even a modest amount, then you’re either a grifter, a failure of an entrepreneur, or both.

If you can’t pay artists, clean up your act or get out of the music business.

Lastly, the scene wouldn’t exist without all the good people out there working towards supporting and building a thriving music community we depend upon. You’re the reason we do what we do.

Thank you.