News and Views

Christmas is a time for caring…

Christmas is upon us once more and professional musicians here will be insanely busy and, hopefully, making good money again after the pandemic. Things are picking up this hot season, but it’s not entirely back to normal yet. I’ve heard too that pay is still not as good as it used to be, and it wasn’t that fantastic before Covid struck.

During the pandemic, some venues were supportive, but most did nothing to help the musicians who used to play for them. Maybe we shouldn’t blame them; they had a tough time too.

However, I regularly hear musicians here complaining they feel underpaid for what they do. They get no sick pay, no health insurance, no help with visas and work permits and no Christmas bonus unless they are a house band with a venue owner who cares for them. Bands that play in more than one venue haven’t a hope. And company pension schemes are non-existent in this industry.

At a higher level, any bands seeking stardom are routinely exploited by the big music companies and live streaming companies. It’s not easy being a musician today, and some tell me it’s getting worse.

“Something’s gotta change” sang the Stranglers in 1977. But it won’t happen unless musicians make it happen. We need an organization here in Phuket, all Thailand even, that sets realistically-achievable standards for venue owners so they can get a badge of approval.

There’s no need to say anything about those that care little for their musicians, just applauding the ones who do will be enough. Good, positive publicity and ethical standards attract customers.

Is there anyone out there who wants to see this happen?!

Happy Christmas everyone, and let’s work together so musicians have a happier Christmas in 2023!

Andy Tong Dee

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