PAMOS: A new business model for the music industry
PAMOS is not a standard charity. It is not registered as a 501(c)(3); it is not exempt from taxes. In a playful mood, in a creative twist on IRS terminology, Bryan's wife Holly calls it a 501(BC).
It’s an independent initiative, for which the entrepreneur assumes full risk and responsibility. It's actually God's idea. It came to me as I was thinking about the big picture of economic compensation, and how money meets our needs, and how creativity might be rewarded.
The truth is now that I've started a great band, I'm passionate about making sure they get paid. I don't want them to suffer the indignity of having to accept "work" that reflects no appreciation for their talent. In Nashville the cases of musicians being discouraged by economic conditions are spreading like a cancer under the bright surface of the real estate boom.
My desire is to pay them what they deserve. So, how to raise money to fill in the gap?
How about selling tee shirts? Then dedicating a specific amount from each sale to a fund that can be used to pay musicians? And then setting a threshold to activate it?
Let's start with a dollar per shirt (or baseball cap, or coffee mug, or anything else that makes sense.) Here's how that would fit my situation: The first $50 will hire a horn player to get on stage with the quartet to play a song or two. If $100 is available, that will pay a musician for an entire set. If $150 is available, that will pay a musician for an entire evening, probably two sets.
This does not require negotiating with club owners or theater managers. It does not attempt to coerce anyone into paying something they can’t afford. It does not seek to manipulate or confront the existing market system. It is simply a way for individuals to bless the musicians, to honor their creativity, and thus to support the role of artists in the community.
The Musicians Union has a similar goal, but the union is built upon a premise of competition, where one person’s gain is another person’s loss. God isn’t like that. He blesses everyone, and this model reflects the generosity of heaven.
PAMOS (short for "Put A Musician On Stage") is an attempt to confront an impossible challenge: recognizing the inherent generosity of creative work in an economic system built on self-interest.
The idea is that musicians deserve to be paid a living wage. I really believe that, and I'm committed to operating that way, but I recognize that it's a radical idea. It goes against the way people have been thinking about money for thousands of years.
Art is not a necessity like food or shelter, yet it means something in each and every one of our lives. Art and music are integral to human culture, but the people who produce it are often placed at the bottom of the list of economic priorities, if they're on the list at all. With PAMOS, we seek to address that.
Artists spend a lifetime to hone their craft and refine their skill.
Clubs, restaurants, and other venues where artists play are functioning businesses with expenses and budgets. Much the same, the listeners who buy tickets, pay cover charges and fill tip jars are also on their own budgets, too. Additionally, government grants for arts programs are becoming more and more rare, and they tend to produce more paperwork than actual art.
Clearly, there's a problem with compensation for modern artists... and that is where PAMOS comes into play.
PAMOS begins with the simple verb "Put." Grammatically it's a command, but it's also an "empowering" word. The donor who buys a PAMOS item, intending to contribute to an actual human need, receives a sense of power, knowing that the dollar is putting someone onto a specific location that fulfills their destiny. It's an action, not just a theory.
"Musician," rather than the more abstract "music," because it's a person in whom the gift resides, and whose physical work deserves respect. Music is really only a way for us to relate to the people who play it, and who enjoy it. People are really what it's all about. This is God's perspective. He loves us.
"On stage" is where musicians belong, in a sense. It's their work space, their playground, the arena where they shine. It's where we get to see and hear them do what they do, and where we can enjoy that.
The odd thing is that musicians desire to get on stage, just as people desire musicians to get on stage. That's part of why musicians get onstage so often for less than they deserve. They feel helpless to change the system, and understandably so. The long term effects of the economic reality can cause discouragement, and lead many gifted individuals to abandon their passion and purpose, seeking a more "realistic" occupation.
The purpose of the money is to complete the loop, letting musicians be where they really want to be, but without the burden of meager compensation. The beauty of PAMOS is that it not only gives musicians what they deserve, it also makes a statement that what they do is valuable, as declared by the community that has formed in the process of contributing to the fund.
The name PAMOS came as a revelation. I don't claim credit for it. I'm just taking responsibility for presenting the idea as something God desires. I know I can't do it on my own. I'm planting a seed. Others will water it and watch it grow. God is in charge of the whole thing.
Trust, Flexibility, Creativity
And so, God is the One to watch, to see where this goes. How much and how often the money can be used depends on how much and how often it is received.
I know this: I am not a musician who is trying to make money. I am a bandleader who wants to pay his musicians what they deserve. And I'm ready to start a new business idea to accomplish what's in my heart.
If it works, the idea of more horn players joining us will motivate me to write some horn charts for the songs, and to make a bigger band out of the quartet, which will increase joy all the way around. Or, other singers and writers can be featured, as backed up by my band, or other musicians. I have plenty of ideas, but that's still only my way of applying PAMOS to my particular situation. Any other bandleader, or producer, or person in a position to hire musicians can use it however they feel is best.
At this point, it's too soon to say where it will go. I am completely open to what God wants to do, and that includes any other creative people coming up with compatible ideas.
The current status of the fund can be displayed as a real-time counter, in the retail section of this website, so that people can monitor the impact of their own involvement.
It is also an initiative that has no specific expectations or demands, other than blessing. How, when and whether the idea will thrive and grow is entirely up to God.
This page will be where to keep up with the news, how much money has been received, and what musicians are being hired with the funds.