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Taking less, and giving more. That is the story behind the music scene. Will it ever end?

Posted: April 3, 2023

Yes, taking less than what you give sucks! However, it is the what we are willing to give that has been consistent. It allows venues, go give less. Especially when they know you are eager to perform. If you are getting your first break, or if you haven’t performed in a while, taking on lowing paying gigs, or non-paying gigs seems enticing. However, you are selling yourself short, and contributing to a behavior that will never end, unless you decide to do something about it.

Do not accept from the venue, that they have other expenses and they cannot afford to pay you. This is BS. It’s like them saying, I can sell you the whiskey, but I can’t afford to pore it in a glass. Anyone that has ran a business knows, it’s the cost of doing business. If entertainment from a live act is going to draw people to your establishment, then you better find a way to pony up the money.

Artists don’t be fooled by charlatans that make you feel that they are broke and a barely have the ability to stay afloat. They are making money and they will exploit your emotions, or eagerness to perform in order to increase their bottom line. This has gone on for decades and will not stop until artists say no. After all, you are worth more than paying for nothing.

Artists can get on social media and perform before more people than a venue will bring. The only upside to the performing at a venue is, promotion. It shows that you are performing. It makes others think that you are a desired commodity. You are only fooling yourself. Everyone else that has been to that venue, knows they do not pay artists. You may earn tips, but that isn’t real money.

The only situations that you should pay for FREE or for a percentage of ticket price is if you are only looking to tune up on your performance. If you are on tour, and you the time to spare, than playing for FREE or tips is acceptable. Just keep in mind, you are still playing at a loss. There has to be something specific that you are gaining for performing for FREE. If you are performing for a charity where all proceeds will go to the charity organization, that is acceptable.

These events should be an exception and not the rule. Remember if you are playing at such an event, you should be specific with the audience as to why you are doing it. Otherwise, it will get back to your audience, and or fellow artists that you played for FREE or Tips. This is not a good message to convey.

Now, that you have my take on it, I want to bring in an artist who has learned by trial and error. The good news, is that she came out on top. What did she have to experience in order to get to succeed? Well, let’s review her story, then go directly into the interview with Loida Liuzzi.

 

THE LOIDA LIUZZI STORY

The Place I Want To Be. For me, music is all about emotions. It’s a vehicle that allows me to share with you what I feel, and at the same time it’s a way to connect with myself. It’s hard to put into words, because it’s a very deep feeling. But I can explain it with an example.

Think of something you love to do. Something that you are really passionate about, even if you don’t know exactly why. Something that, when you do it, you think: “This is the place I want to be”. Surely there is something like that, right?

For me, it’s music.

Love And Fear I fell in love with music when I was 9 years old.

When my father started teaching me how to play popular songs from Paraguay on the guitar.

It was amazing to me that something so beautiful could be created just with your hands. I had that feeling throughout my childhood and my adolescence. Even though, like most teenagers, I didn’t see things very clearly. I felt that I loved music, and that I would love to dedicate myself completely to it, but there were things that held me back. First, my family wanted me to study something “profitable”. Nor did we have financial resources for me to dedicate myself 100% to music. Finally, I myself was afraid that being a girl in Paraguay I would have few opportunities to make a career as a professional musician.

When Love Turns Into Passion Still, I followed my instinct and at the age of 15 I signed up for the School of Rock in Paraguay. I didn’t have an electric guitar, so I started with my dad’s Paraguayan guitar. It was a bit weird going to the School of Rock with a Paraguayan guitar, but I didn’t care. I was happy anyway. Because all I wanted was to play.

Although at that time I did not have much time to practice, because I was still studying in High School. But I still spent all my free time to become a good guitarist one day.

In the end, I got one of the cheapest electric guitars. But for me it was the best guitar in the world! I was 16 years old, and I told my Rock School teacher that I wanted to listen to guitar specific music. My teacher gave me an album to listen to. It was the G3 of Joe Satriani, Steve Vai and Eric Johnson. I remember coming home super excited. I turned off all the lights, put on the album and lay down next to the speaker. I listened to the whole album. And what I felt was galactic. The love I felt for music turned into a passion that completely invaded me. There I felt, very deeply, that this was what I wanted to do with my life. Because when love turns into passion, nothing can stop you. Or so I thought…My Worst Enemy Because fear can be your worst enemy. And it can hold you back from your dreams. No matter how passionate you are.

I realized very soon. When I was 18 years old, about to graduate from High School, my mother told me that I had to study for a university degree. Again, the fear of not being able to develop a career as a professional musician came back. So I enrolled in the University of Chemistry. I passed my exams and spent the whole day studying.

I had no time for anything else. I remember one day I was studying hard, a math subject, and I saw my guitar next to my bed. And I said, “Let’s play a little.”

And I played until I fell asleep. The next day I couldn’t take it anymore and I told my mom that I was going to be a professional guitarist.

No matter what happened.

Facing Challenges When I made the firm decision to be a professional musician, the real challenges began. At first, my environment did not support me. I don’t blame them though, because they were just as scared as I was. They were afraid that I wouldn’t do the right thing and waste my life. And no one wants that for their loved ones. But it was still hard to start without that support. I also felt that fear. The difference was that I was already convinced that music was my way. I was 100% determined to follow it.

Despite the fear and all the challenges. Because challenges were just beginning. Low Income and A Lot Of Work. The next challenge was the economic. I wanted to hire a good teacher to learn well. But I come from a humble family. My father was a plumber and my mother had a little shop. So they had no money to pay for it. I wasn’t good enough to be able to work as a professional musician yet either. So I had to work on other things.

I worked as a hostess in a children’s birthday party place, for 2.50 USD per hour. I also worked making photocopies in a bookstore, 7 days a week. I practically lived there. Then I was a photography assistant, a makeup artist, I worked helping my mom in the store…

Anything that would help me get some money to pay for my classes! It was a tough time.

Because I only had time to practice after working all day. And that made it very difficult for me to move forward. Dealing With Insecurity One of the hardest challenges for me to overcome was my own insecurity. I was very shy. I always turned my amp down to the minimum so I wouldn’t be heard too much during guitar lessons. And at concerts, I was scared to death of playing in front of people. I knew that if I didn’t overcome that insecurity I would never become a professional guitarist. So I decided to study and practice very hard to become more confident.

I spent years studying music theory, choir, music theory, harmony, jazz, music history…

and, above all, guitar. Both classical and electric. I had very good teachers.

Step by step I felt more and more confident when playing. Although I have to admit that I had another great help in overcoming insecurity. Sports also helped.

Starting to train helped me a lot with discipline and self-confidence. In the end, insecurity is something that affects all sides of our lives. Sports is one of the things that has helped me the most to overcome it. Playing For Two Drunk Guys For several years I got into many group projects. They all failed. There was hardly any audience. I never made a dime. I played for free. I paid for dinner, parking, rehearsal place, equipment…There were only expenses.

Still I did. Because it was what I loved. But there is always a limit.

I perfectly remember mine with those projects. One day the show was delayed, and my dad came to pick me up in the car. When he arrived, we were playing. There were only two drunk guys in the audience. When we got back in the car, he told me:

“Loi, do you really prepare so much, and get ready, and go to the hairdresser, and work to buy the equipment, and practice so hard… for that? for playing for two drunk guys?

Then I had another crisis. Because I felt that, if I continued like this, I was never going to have a career as a professional guitarist. When You Don’t Give Up

I believe that there is one thing that is above everything if you want to make your dreams come true. That thing is not giving up. Because challenges can’t beat you if you don’t give up.

That’s what I did. I kept fighting, despite all the challenges. I never gave up. And, little by little, things started to get better. My environment started to support me when they saw that music was really my passion. I managed to overcome insecurity by studying and practicing a lot. Thanks to sports. I kept playing in bands, until I got recruited to play in a Big Band, with one of the best singers in Paraguay. I made my own band, Bloody Mary, with which we began to have a larger audience than with previous projects. I even got a contract to play for a long season in Qatar.

I was already making enough money as a musician to live on it. It seemed that my career as a professional guitarist was finally going to start. But fate had other plans…

Starting From Scratch Again When it seemed that everything was going to take off, the pandemic began. All shows were canceled. Also was my contract to play in Qatar.

At that moment I felt that all my effort was falling apart. The lockdown was very hard.

Not being able to go out to see my loved ones, or train, made me feel depressed.

Luckily, although I got COVID 2 times, I did not have serious consequences. But it was still a hard time. When all the shows were canceled, I lost my income again. Just like many people at that time, I had to start from scratch again. Serendipity “The fact of finding interesting or valuable things by chance” That is the definition of serendipity. And that is exactly what happened to me as a result of COVID. When all my plans were canceled, I thought I could teach guitar online to earn some money. That’s where the magic began. I had students who were very excited when they came to play. Even in those hard times of confinement, music was like an oasis where they felt good. A refuge in which they could connect with their emotions and forget for a moment about the hard situation we were going through. Then I also started to share more music on social media. And I realized that it had a similar effect.

I discovered that music has enormous potential to help people feel better in those difficult times.

Being a part of that made me feel really good. For many years I was 100% focused on studying and practicing just to be a better guitarist. To improve my technique and my knowledge. But in the years of the pandemic, I discovered that what makes me really happy is sharing my music with you. Being able to be part of something that helps you feel better. Even if it’s just a little bit. That is my true purpose. I’m so grateful to have the opportunity to make it happen. What 's Next? When you are clear about your purpose, it is easier to define your next steps. Now I’m working on several projects. All 100% aligned with the purpose of sharing my music with you. The first one is my first album. The Journey. I am very excited to invite you to the launch. I’ll be live sharing with you all the experiences I’ve had since I was just a little girl dreaming about playing guitar, till now. All those experiences have been transformed into the songs of this album. It’s been a long way. With many failures, and some wins, that have made me the musician that I’m today.

 

DO YOU SEE YOURSELF IN THE LOIDA LIUZZI STORY?

The answer to that question is most likely yes. I don’t think there isn’t an artist that didn’t have enough confidence to say no to a FREE or low paying gig. It has happened to most artists at some point in their career. Unfortunately, some never came out of their situation on top. Artists are still performing for FREE or for tips. There are many reasons why they do it. Most of the reasons in their mind seem legit. Venues start to believe that all artists will play for free or a percentage. Thus the need for Talent Buyers.

Guitar Thrills Magazine would like to dive into the specific story of Loida Liuzzi. We know her battle, but how is she doing now?

 

INTERVIEW WITH LOIDA LIUZZI AND GUITAR THRILLS MAGAZINE

GT: I knew that wanted to interview Loida Liuzzi, but I didn’t know anything related to her story. I just knew she was an extremely talented guitarist. The rest was a pleasant surprise.

 

GT: Hello Loida. Thank you for allowing us to interview you. I can relate to the experience from your story. First of all, how are you doing at this point of your career?

Loida: Hi! Thank you for giving me this space to talk about my career and my life. I'm really good, it's been a year since the release of The Journey, my first EP and I have had a good reception, people are listening to it and the feedback I receive is always positive.

 

GT: That is good to hear. Did you ever think that you would get to this point in your music career?

Loida: Not at first, I come from a humble family in Paraguay, a very small country in South America, here there are not many professional opportunities for Rock or Jazz musicians, most people see it only as a hobby, and much worse if You are a girl, when I started playing the guitar, no one imagined that in a few years I would be releasing a record with other world-class artists and that music would take me around the world.

 

GT: Looking back, did your experiences help you. Please explain.

Loida: Yes, sure they are, experience is essential for any artist, when I decided to accept a contract in Doha, Qatar to play as resident musician at Ressort, I did it mainly for the experience, and believe me that playing a couple of hours every day It is a great school for any musician.

 

GT: Excellent feedback. Reminds us when you realized that you deserved so much more, than what you were receiving?

Loida: The life of a beginner musician is generally very ungrateful, but I think we should trust our talent and our proposal. If the artistic proposal is good, sooner or later the public recognizes and appreciates it, it can take years but eventually it happens, but you never know when

 

GT: Is there any value in performing for FREE or tips, from your viewpoint?

Loida: That depends, I think a musician has to play in front of the public, it's useless to be the best guitarist in the world locked in your room, and at the beginning it's hard to get paid if nobody knows you, but on the other hand I don't like it when other people take advantage of that, venues that bill at the expense of artists who are not paid, that is not right

 

GT: Why do you think so many artists are willing to accept less, regardless of their talent?

Loida: We Artists have to understand one thing, nobody pays you to have a talent, the venues (Bars, show venues, etc.) pay you to bring people, people who consume or pay tickets, if you are an artist who is generating earnings to the venue, you deserve to be paid in proportion to that. If your artistic proposal is not generating engagement with people, your talent is irrelevant from the point of view of earnings.

 

GT: It is apparent that they need to build confidence in their ability. There are some situations that they can use performing for less to their advantage. However, it is few and far between. Basically, they shouldn’t make it a habit. Also if they do, they should make wise use of a FREE venue to perform at. With events such as (charity, release parties, promotional opportunities, etc.) At least from the standpoint of the industry, the artist is performing with purpose, instead of accepting a no to low paying gig.

Loida: This question is very timely, because a few days ago I posted a video playing live at a launch event for a Car brand, and an Instagram follower sent me a message telling me that I shouldn't play again in places where people don't values me, because the people at the event did not pay enough attention to my show, which is normal in this type of event. What I explained to this person is that they paid me very well for playing at that event, and for me, that's valuing the artist.

 

GT: What kind of plans do you have for yourself? What kind of surprises would you like to announce to your fans?

Loida: What I can anticipate now is that I’m recording two Albums in parallel, one will be a Covers Album, very popular songs but performed only on guitar instead of sung, and the 2nd would be the continuation of The Journey, an Album with my compositions and with some stellar guests that I'm sure my followers will appreciate.

 

GT: Nice. Trust me, we will be ready to promote it.

 

GT: You are an awesome guitarist. What is your preference for guitar brands? Also have you ever tried performing with an aluminum guitar? Tells us about the type of accessories that you use on stage and in the studio?

Loida: I love all kinds of guitars, I've been an Endorser of Kiesel Guitars for a couple of years now, and I Love all my Kiesels, especially the Headless, but I also work with Enya for acoustic guitars and they just sent me a Carbon Fiber Acoustic that I really like, but I haven't had the experience yet to play an aluminum guitar.

In the studio I like to test all kinds of Gear, for quick productions I use Plugins, and the Neural DSP work very well, I also started working with ToneX from IK Multimedia and the experience has been excellent, when I have to use tube amplifiers I prefer Victory Amps, the V30 or the V4, I love the way they sound.

For pedals I have several favorites: The Kraken from Victory, the new Devil's Triad from All Pedals, I also have several Beetronics pedals and some Joyo effects that always work well.

 

GT: We really appreciate the inside scoop into your story. There is no doubt, that it will help other artists that are struggling with this topic. We want to have you back soon. How does that sound to you?

Loida: Whenever you want, it's always a pleasure to talk about guitars and gear or just about music.

 

GT: That will be awesome. We look forward to talking and following up with continued success. Thank you.

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