Artists (whether writing, drawing, painting, singing, dancing… whatever the art is) tend to draw their inspiration from their surroundings. I’m not sure I would call myself an artist or even a writer for that matter BUT… I’m drawing my writing inspiration today from some recent (and startling) news from one of my favorite music groups.
So it’s the middle of 2009 and we’re technically still in a recession. My 15 year old brother asked me earlier today what that meant. A recession (as told by Wiki) is a general slowdown in economic activity over a sustained period of time. Basically what that means as we all know by now the economy is up shit’s creek.
But say by some magic change of fate you had an extra $500 or so dollars in your savings account or bonus, a stimulus check… something. What would one do with that in a recession?
Well we can start by covering the basics:
- Home utilities generally include electricity, heating, water and nowadays with the switch over to HD cable (this of course not including internet, phone and if you rent)… on an average a 3 bedroom, two bathroom in Pittsburgh goes for somewhere between $300 and $600 per month on just utilities (of course this is general and not including the size of the home, energy efficiency, home owner’s fees or personal habits). That means if you used that $500 to pay utilities, it’d pretty much be gone in a month
- If you don’t own and you rent, $500 is generally between a quarter and 2/3 of a monthly rent payment for an apartment in Florida
- What about transportation? Well a person with decent credit, a clean driving record and over the age of 25 who finances an 07 Honda Accord today can generally get car insurance somewhere between $1500 and $1600 in the DC area for 6 months which roughly comes to some between $250 and $270 per month. This is not including my monthly car note of course. But if my home utilities and car note are taken care of, I can cover about two months on car insurance with my extra $500. I could also put that money away in case I need any repairs or maintenance.
- In order for me to get around in my car, I have to pay for gas. If gas in the NY area stays the way it is today, I’d generally be paying something between $2.75 and $2.90 per gallon monthly. If all of the above were already covered and I just used that $500 dollars to secure fuel, I would be able to have something like 172 and 181 gallons of fuel covered outside of my other daily expenses.
- I have to eat. I dunno about anyone else. But I gotta eat. Today I spent about $45 on around 20 items at the supermarket. Let’s say generally speaking groceries stayed around that price range for that many items. That means with $500 I can roughly go grocery shopping for that many items about 11 times.
- I can’t tell you how long it’s been since I’ve bought a new wardrobe. But I have a couple weddings I’m invited to and on average a nice dress goes for something like $100. Now, I could get 5 or so dresses or I could get one dress, accessorize the outfit and spend the remaining money on a present for the wedding party.
Now all of these things could feasibly be covered with primary means of funding like a job. Which is a bonus cuz what else could I possibly use $500 for?
- My brother’s in house tuition is about $4000 per semester. If he takes that extra 500 towards his tuition he’s one-eighth of the way covered for just a semester.
- Speaking of school… the average cost of a student loan at a 4-year institution today is about $23,000. That’s ab0ut 6000 per school year, giving you a monthly payment of around… *gasp* $500 and this is NOT including interest.
- Oh… speaking of interest? What about those credit cards? My interest rate shot up to around 17% from 12 just because of the recession. I now pay a minimum payment of about $120 which means if I spent the 500 on one credit card I would be a happy camper.
- Environmental agencies are adamantly campaigning to fight against the slaughter and endangering of gray wolves, whales and other wild life on the west coast. With a $10 donation, I adopt an orphan wolf. If I use all 500 on altruistic means I end up being a mama to 50 orphan pups. And it’s tax deductible.
- Not into the environment? That’s cool. Something has to tickle your fancy. Cell phones are around$300 just for the phone (not including the activation fee), about an additional $30-$45 for service (depending on the perks you get with it… gotta have my unlimited texts) and like $70 monthly payment (with the bare minimum coverage). You can also now get some computers for under $500 (not including all the perks of course), cameras, GPS or DVDs on clearance for like 10 and some change (that’s a good 50 DVDs).
Now you could also take this money and invest it. There are a lot of statistics out there that show how people within the age range of 20-30 do not pay themselves first. A lot of banks got hit hard by the recession and I think putting your money in stocks is quite a gamble but there’s always a savings account, IRA or CD, etc. Cuz let’s face it… how many of us are expecting social security by the time we hit 70? It won’t exist even if they keep robbing it from your checks and giving it to old people in Florida.
There’s always that list that most people have whether written or mental that you know if you had a certain amount of cash you could pay for this thing. Mine would probably be health insurance considering I have none and it’s one expense I just can’t afford. I’m not even sure how much that would cost monthly but let’s just say doctor’s visits could be covered with $500.
If all of the basics were covered, all of the bills… what would you use $500 for? These scenarios all presume this person is single. What if you had children and/or a spouse? Would that money go towards their clothes, their healthcare, their investments?
Think about how much you sacrifice, especially during times when we are all clinging to money for dear life. This is a recession right? So let’s assume you like millions of Americans are suddenly laid off. Or your business depends on the patronizing of others who can’t afford to spend because they’re laid off. How handy would that $500 be right about now?
I could go on and on about what a person can do with $500. You could completely be impractical with it and blow it. But I would think all of us have been even remotely affected by the economy and could all think of practical applications for this money.
You could be ahead of bills, treat yourself to a spa day, buy something for someone else, save the world… or you can spend $500 on this:
Platinum VIP Upgrade
This upgrade includes the following:
Watch the Backstreet Boys perform 3 or 4 songs
1 Pre-signed photo
1 Individual photo with the Backstreet Boys
YOU WILL NEED TO BUY A TICKET TO ATTEND THE CONCERT. TICKETS ARE NOT INCLUDED IN THIS PACKAGE.
Now… there are several points to be made with this. The first being if tickets are not even included in this package and I am purchasing a package for myself and someone else, I would spend well over $1100 JUST on tickets and a package. That’s not even adding taxes for the tickets, shipping for the tickets and back up money just in case I spent all that damn money on a package just to get seated in row 20 or back and have to sell the tickets for closer seats. I haven’t factored in how I’m getting to the venue, which if it’s local will cost me gas and at $2.75 on a small car tank filled up that’s at least around $30 (and that’s a generous guesstimate). Nor have I figured in food for the day. And what if it isn’t local because they’re not playing within 3 hours of my surrounding area? That now means if I want to go to a show and get to meet musicians I’ve listened to for I dunno a LOT of years… I would have to figure out how far the travel is and then potentially add hotel fees in the mix considering I may not want to drive back home after 11 at night. All for one concert?
If I took that $500 and used it solely on my love for music of all kinds and live shows, and say tickets were around $45-$65 for all local shows… I could potentially see at least 7 live shows. Seven live shows from a different artist per show would be beyond worth $500 just because of the experience. Earlier today I said two things: music should make me feel like I’m with the artist not beneath them and the artist should be willing to give it freely if it’s just about the music.
What happened to it being just about the music? The second thing I said was: music’s a business. It shouldn’t be ideally but I think an artist should always remember why they started towards that source of inspiration and who pays for the lifestyle they’re now given as a result. The more you milk the people who listen to that which you’re projecting to the world… the more they will become deafened to the message. The purity, the simplicity, the fun, the experience that comes with absorbing all there is to a live performance by one of your favorites… you can’t put a price on it.
But $500… especially in a recession? I guess I bent over and left my cheek out with a hit me sign cuz that’s such a big slap in the face. When someone has to spend that much money to share in a more personal experience with any musician something is wrong with the state of music. Especially if the artist is not in tuned enough with the fans to know that on any level that kind of price for a fucking soundcheck is ridiculously not feasible by the average audience attending the shows.
hey you’re no fucking Elvis…
It comes down to this… at the end of the day we all know if there were any choice and artists made NO profit from the music they make, two things would remain: if they’re really about it for the joy of the art, they would give their shower a performance and someone will be there to listen. The fact that you get paid for doing something you enjoy should be icing on the cake. Therefore, asking or allowing a management team or anyone else to charge your fans, the people who glazed that icing on your cushy cake, to come out of pocket and see something that we all know you’d be doing in some way shape or form in your basement for no one just because you enjoy it that much is greedy, disgusting and appalling.
Now people will pay however much to the moon and back to see someone they enjoy. My point is… if you can’t put a price on creativity, inspiration, artistic endeavor or expression… why should I have to pay for it?