Monday, July 10, 2006

The Catch-22 of the 'Z' Foundation

CD swapping web site, Lala.com, has announced its new initiative, the 'Z' Foundation, which will donate between $10,000 and $50,000 each month directly to the artists toward offering working musicians health and dental benefits. While the idea is noble in concept (and will certainly give the service some exposure in the press—I'm writing about it here after all), and while the majority of the requirements are fair ("Eligibility is available to working musicians, defined as any individual who has performed live or on a recorded release in the last year") there was one key element to the eligibility that will render this useless to the majority of musicians that are in need of the 'Z' Foundation.

It states that the musician's "music-related income accounts for more than half of their total income." The world's artists who are truly in need of these benefits are the ones who, at this very moment, write lyrics at 3 o'clock in the morning after working a full-time job, and can only afford the time to perform at a local bar on weekends. The musicians who require the 'Z' Foundation to support them financially in order to offer the ability to transition to doing music as a full-time job do not qualify for the funding because they cannot figure out a way to do so without maintaining another job.

So who will benefit from the 'Z' Foundation? Already established acts and those willing to put everything on the line by taking out a loan and doing music as a full-time job will be the only ones who will see any money from the 'Z.' The foundation will not encourage music as a viable way to make a living for new artists. It will only serve to aid the musicians who are already doing music for a living.

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