Let’s pretend to be good for you.
Joy Balmana, ARTS COLUMNIST
I’m developing my communications skills in school and trying to do similar and mutually beneficial things for people in the arts community. However, there are tons of people in Winnipeg undercutting that same community. In one of my past columns, Broke buskers, I touched on artists and musicians’ wage gaps and the idea of “paid with promotion” deals cut by big time paid promoters.
While name-dropping and call-outs probably aren’t best for my career path, I would like to address an “international arts organization, for artists by artists” called RAW. Some organizations seem oblivious to the bad they do, but they preach they’re good. RAW has been blasted on public forums and blogs, and their Google search comes up as anything but good. Go ahead, try it out. Open the Google browser and type RAW artists. It’s soon followed by the words ‘scam’ and ‘pyramid scheme’.
RAW claims to be beneficial for emerging artists in the first 10 years of their career. Their mission statement says, “To provide independent artists… with the tools, resources and exposure needed to inspire and cultivate creativity. RAW ventures to provide the platform for these artists to be seen, heard, and loved.” This organization is run 100 per cent on the shows they put on, and they promise artists crowds between 500–800 plus attendees. What’s shady about these deals is artists are asked to sell 20 tickets each, at $20 within two weeks to MAYBE earn $200 for their time on stage with less audience members than promised. They do fulfill the “providing a platform promise,” but in Winnipeg that platform is a club venue, District Stop.
What might be their only distinguishing quality is the fact they’ve manipulated their way into over 70 countries. They take content made by artists and use it to create a self-loving brand. To be clear—by distinguishing, I mean disgusting.
But, it’s not just these big “organizations” that have it out for our local artists. Local “paid with promotion” organizations also exist.
While it’s not always about the money or the fame, and it’s okay to do things for the greater good, you should never feel uneasy about the company you keep or the companies that try to keep you.
So if you’re an artist, musician, or any creative in-between, do a little digging around these organizations and ask yourself, ‘what’s in it for me?’
Joy Balmana is a Public Relations major in Creative Communications.
Her free time is spent wandering around Winnipeg’s downtown galleries,
other cites across the world, or her kitchen figuring out what to cook next.
See the world her way on Instagram at @byoj or
hear what all that muttering is on Twitter @_byoj.