Originally Posted by IDDrummer
It's sad that you think you have to play for free to gain exposure. When I was in high school we got paid to play at parties, weddings, bar mitvahs, church functions, school gymnasiums, etc. I got paid better to play in someone's basement than some clubs want to pay today, and it wasn't because everyone was rolling in dough, either. They valued what we did. No one expected us to be seasoned pros, but they didn't expect us to play for free, either.
I think that is the problem that Steve is trying to point out - you've been led to believe your music has little or no value, and you don't see that you're being taken advantage of.
You don't have to play for free to gain exposure, but I would rather have that option open than closed.
Mainly I'm trying to focus on record sales, because on that field, no matter what you do it's going to be available for free somewhere, you have absolutely no control over that, so in that particular field you have to find a way to make people want to buy your record as oppose to pirating it or find some other way to make money off of your record.
As for live shows, if you're looking to make a living off of music, you would have to be stupid to play live shows for free, live shows, lessons, merch, ext. Is probably where you're going to make most of your money. But you guys are making it sound like all venues force you to play for free, which is absolutely not true if your band has any sort of following at all.
However, as someone who doesn't have a band following yet, I would look for venues to play for free as a grassroots sort of thing, gain a following, get some experience and look for some actual gigs. If you can't find actual paying gigs it's because your band doesn't have much of a following and or you're absolutely terrible at advertising, you have no one to blame but yourself for that.