Monday, July 13, 2009

Klezmer Dollars

I've been thinking that there needs to be a term to describe the difference between a low-paying gig that is desirable and one that is not.

In other words, I've been looking for a way to describe the difference in pay necessary to tempt me to accept, for example, a six hour loud Chassidic disco gig with a "banger" drummer and shred guitarist from a local "Bands R' Us" office vs. an acoustic klez gig, or a creative collaboration that is four hours away by car. Typically, I'm more willing to be accommodating in the latter scenario, when the pay is on the low side, compared to the former.

The term I'd use to describe this is "Klezmer Dollars." Think of it as being similar to dog years. Klezmer dollars are worth more than US dollars. So, an appealing gig, say playing with some world-class klezmorim, for instance, although it might not pay the same as hauling a sound system/sub-leading Hassidisco at "Ateres Whatever", would still be comparable, because the pay is effectively equal.

This concept doesn't negate the need for musicians to maximize income, so I wouldn't turn down a Hassidisco gig on the off chance that I'd pick up one of equivalent pay in klezmer dollars. Obviously, I do have to make a living. It does explain why some offers that might not be appealing on a purely financial level, nevertheless are.

The artist buildings in Hell's Kitchen effectively do honor klezmer dollars, BTW, with rent being a percentage of income. I know quite a few musicians who live there. If only I could convince my mortgage holder to accept payment in klezmer dollars!