Indier Than Thou

A local performer who appeared at last Saturday’s San Diego Indie Music Fest was pleased to be one of the local artists selected to play the 12-hour, seven-stage showcase for singer/songwriters. About half of the 70 artists were local.

“They put your song on a CD, and the first 1000 people [in attendance] get a copy,” says the artist.

Although tickets were $23, some of the artists didn’t get paid, which didn’t seem to bother the artist. “We’re totally stoked [to play it]; it’s great advertisement.”

But what was not cool, says the artist, was that the promoters of the event made all local performers agree not to play anywhere else locally for six weeks (four weeks before the show and two weeks after).

“We had to turn down two gigs that were actually paying gigs to play this. Granted, we’re not talking thousands of dollars, but every little bit helps.”

Performance embargoes are common for nationally known touring artists who are contractually obligated to venues and promoters who invest tens of thousands of dollars. Those embargoes may mandate that such an artist may not, for instance, play within 60 miles of the venue or within two months of the date of the show.

Co-promoter Alicia Champion thinks the agreement is fair.

“The reason for this [stipulation] is we are a grassroots event; this is a community event, and we need a team effort for this to be successful. In order to get people to show up to this event, we need the artists to promote it and get their fan bases to show up. If you allow more time between shows, they will have a bigger draw [at Indie Fest].”

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