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Company behind Artbox S’pore wants artistes to perform at event for free

Get your Exposure Bucks right here.

Sulaiman Daud |Rachel Ng | November 29, 2017 @ 11:08 pm

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From the organisers of Artbox Singapore

Local musician Amanda Tee shared in a Facebook post on Nov. 29 an email she received.

The email was sent by Invade, the company that organised Artbox Singapore.

Invade is organising the upcoming event Flashbang Singapore, scheduled to take place from Dec. 9 to 30. Invade sought Tee’s services for Flashbang.

You can see the email below:

Pic from Amanda Tee’s Facebook page.

Exposure bucks

Several details in that email would make any artiste see red.

  • There is no mention of payment. Performers are invited to perform in exchange for “maximum branding exposure”.
  • The artistes wouldn’t even be performing, instead they would be “busking”. This is a term more commonly associated with performing in the street, instead of an organised event like Flashbang.
  • The mention that “public contributions (are) accepted.” This means that Invade expects the public to be responsible for compensating the artistes.
  • Bragging about the previous success of Artbox Singapore, the email mentions that 660,000 visitors attended the previous event, which made S$20 million. They put a conservative estimate of expected visitors for Flashbang at one million. And yet, they still can’t find the money to pay their performing artists.
Photo from Amanda Tee’s Music Facebook page.

Clearly, the company reached out to established musicians like Tee for a reason. Having released her own EPs to critical acclaim, she has already built up her own fanbase and achieved name recognition.

As seen in the email, Invade intends to feature Tee in their advertising during the run-up to the event.

Even if you could make a case that completely unknown artists might perform for free in exchange for recognition, Tee has already surpassed that stage. Tee deserves to be paid if she is going to be playing for an hour at Flashbang.

If Invade intends for the musicians to be part of their event, then they must be aware that some of artiste’s own fans might attend just to catch a live performance. They need the artistes, not the other way round.

And yet, Invade are treating the musicians as little more than props. If all they wanted was some music, the same effect could be achieved by playing a Spotify playlist.

Other reactions

The Facebook post drew sharp responses from other local musicians.

Jazz singer Gareth Nicholas Fernandez:

Screen shot from Amanda Tee’s Facebook.

Singer-songwriter Sam Driscoll:

Bassist for Indie-rock band Stopgap, Grayson Seah:

Screen shot from Sam Driscoll’s Facebook page.

Change is needed

The unfortunate thing is that Seah may be right. There might be artistes out there willing to “busk” at such events.

But this should not have to be the case for the music industry in Singapore. The email demonstrates a regressive mindset that art is somehow worth less than other goods or services.

And when companies act like this, all it does is start a race to the bottom and stifle the growth of the industry as a whole.

After all, if your last event generated S$20 million, it’s not unreasonable for performers at your next event to expect fair compensation.

Mothership has reached out to Invade for comment.

Invade responds to artiste

In response to Tee, Invade said they are going to come up with a compensation plan for artistes:

Top image from Flashbang Singapore and Amanda Tee’s Facebook pages

Here’s a totally unrelated but equally interesting story:

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About Sulaiman Daud

Sulaiman believes that we can be heroes, if just for one day. His favourite Doctor is Peter Capaldi's Twelve and his favourite person is Jürgen Klopp. He also writes about film and pop-culture, which you are very welcome to read here.

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