While trolling through tumblr last night, I stumbled upon a post urging artists to not accept exposure as a form of payment. And I have to say, I agree.
Paying someone in exposure means instead of handing over cash, the client will “promote” the artist/musician/photographer/writer. This is most commonly seen with music festivals and charity events.
It sounds like a good idea. We’ve talked about the necessity of platforms, press tours and gaining new fans, so if a large scale event is going to attract thousands of people, doesn’t it make sense to be a part of it?
Yes. But it makes more sense to be a part of it and make money. Large scale events are designed to make money for the organizer. Even charity balls make money – so don’t let anyone convince you they “can’t afford” to pay for your services.
Paying someone in exposure is an oddity only really found in the creative sphere. Think about it, when was the last time you told a waitress that instead of paying in cash, you’d tell your friends how good a restaurant was?
Never. That never happens because exposure isn’t a legal currency.
So if someone says they can only offer you a spot in a music festival if you accept payment in exposure, say no. It’s 100% okay to not be a part of an international festival. That happens all the time and is not the end of your career.
If a non-profit approaches you, wanting a free piece of artwork, politely explain that it cost money for supplies, time and effort. If they give you a hard time, ask them one simple question: how much is your executive director paid?
Don’t settle for not getting paid.
And when all else fails, remember this little gem: people die of exposure.
Here’s a satirical article that inspired this post.