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THE FOLLOWING IS A TRANSCRIPTION OF AN EMAIL SENT BY A 35-YEAR-OLD MAN TO HIS BOOKING AGENT—-OR, AT LEAST, TO A GUY WHO HELPED HIM BOOK A FEW SHOWS IN THE MID-SOUTH—-ON MARCH 13, 2012:
Dear [name redacted],
We had a fun show in Springfield, Mo., last night, but I wanted to let you know that we only made $13. This was weird because the club was charging $3 a head, and $13 isn’t divisible by three. I’m not pissed or anything — I was grateful to have a show on a Monday night anywhere — but I just wanted to keep you in the loop.
There weren’t that many people at the show, which was at a gay bar called “Martha’s Vineyard” — which is a really, really, really good name for a gay bar in Springfield, Missouri. Though the show was by no means sold out, it wasn’t empty either. That’s why it was so shocking to be paid $13, in ones. I think about 20 people were there, so that means we should have got $60. But, then again, maybe the bar kept some of the cash. Also, some of the people there were in the other bands, and some were the other bands’ friends, and some were the other bands’ girlfriends, so maybe some people didn’t pay the full $3, or there was a guest list. There was also a toothless guy with a yellowish goatee present and accounted for. I think the goatee was yellow from years of smoking cigarettes. It doesn’t seem like he paid the $3 cover, or should have to.
There were also jello shots.
Still, it seems like we should have gotten at least, like, $30 or something. But, I turned 35 yesterday, so I didn’t wanna be like: “Hey, pregnant 21-year-old who’s taking money at the door and just told me that she’s waiting for her Medicaid to get approved so that she can get better pre-natal care—-bitch, where the fuck is my other $17?” So we just split to ye olde Priceline hotel room, which cost about $50. Also, we sold a few records and everyone was nice, so the show didn’t seem too incredibly depressing and good feelings abounded. In fact, I would probably play Springfield again, even if the show was run by the same people who paid me only $13! I’m not sure if this means that I have some kind of psychiatric problem.
But I just wanted to let you know about the $13 situation for future information if you’re booking shows in Springfield. Also, I guess I owe you 15 percent of $13, which is $1.95.
I think that, at this point in my musical career, I should be proud of the opportunity to be a part of a show that pays $13. To be paid nothing is easy—-musicians are paid nothing every day all over the world. To get paid a lot is difficult — Bruce Springsteen, or, at least, the Bruce Springsteen corporation, made about $38 million in 10 shows at Giants Stadium in 2003. But, in a way, I think it’s even more difficult to make $13 than $38 million. At my age, to make such a laughably specific small sum making art is a hoot. At least, I think it’s a hoot, or hope it’s a hoot. On one hand, $13 isn’t nothing—-it buys about 2.5 gallons of gas, so you don’t just want to give it back. Then again, it’s $13. $13!
Once, in 1997, I got paid $16.50 to play a show in New Orleans. That was the funniest amount I was ever paid, because part of the night’s fee came in quarters. But I’m proud to say that $13 is the second-funniest amount I was ever paid.
Looking forward to Fayetteville tonight! Love, [name redacted]