Take Your Exposure And Shove It

I don’t work for free and neither should anyone else

A friend just posted that a well-known, well-watched TV series has been contacting performers to perform on stage for their promo reels for the next season.

How wonderful, right?

Here’s the catch: there’s no pay. Nada.

If you’re an artist, performer or any kind of creative, you’re probably not surprised. Working for the honour of being picked, for the potential exposure seems to be the norm for us.

Usually the excuse is that there’s no budget to pay creatives. Sometimes there isn’t. I get that. But this television show? It has a budget. It has stars, directors, editors, camera operators and more. All of whom are being paid. It also has revenue coming in. Probably a ridiculous sum.

It takes an incredible amount of cheek, hell let’s just call a donkey a donkey — it takes an incredible amount of DISRESPECT to ask a trained professional to share their skills to help a company make money and then not pay them.

On behalf of all artists everywhere: fuck you.

Every time an artists sets foot outside, or online, there’s some yahoo hitting us up for free work in exchange for exposure. As though their audience and connections will jump up and down when they see our free art and want to pay for something.

And artists, writers, performers and other creatives, it is a rare (to the point of being nonexistent) time that exposure nets you anything worth your effort on the free thing.

But… artists LIKE working for free, right? True artists are insulted by being paid.. right?


The last time I checked the gas company wasn’t insulted by being paid. Certainly Amazon didn’t send me books just for the joy of being an online book retailer!

Let’s put it this way:

You’re a plumber. You go into a house and redo the pipes because there’s water everywhere. The family could lose everything. You’re a plumbing genius! House saved. Happy family.

They don’t want to pay.

Don’t you do plumbing because you’re called to do it? Because it’s a passion? Doesn’t matter that you have bills, or that you paid for your education. No dinero.

Sounds ludicrous, right?

Of course you’d pay the plumber. DUH! Plumbing saves homes. Makes lives better. What a fucked up metaphor.

But art saves lives too. It connects us to our stories. It makes us feel, think and be. It inspires us into action or inaction. It is absolutely not a luxury.

In fact, art (which includes writing, stories, music, visual arts and more) is what separates us from every other species on the planet. Our hominid ancestors carved and painted enough that archaeologists have found art that is 500,000 years old. At ages which predate our current species. Art is who we are.

We live in a messed up world right now which insists that are cannot be monetized. That art has no values. That creatives are a lesser class citizen. Weird. Different. Undesirable. The story is so powerful and pervasive that creatives themselves accept it as their lot in life.

You can think what you want to justify your boring ass self, but pay your damn artists. If you pay your plumbers and your website makers and your coffee shop, you need to pay your creatives.

And creatives? You have mad skills that you have perfected. Anyone who doesn’t want to pay you is unworthy of your time and attention. They aren’t going to help you, they don’t even respect you.

People die from exposure, it is utterly useless, and I am making it my mission to end that as a currency right now.

Paula Mould

Paula Mould

Paula Mould is a fine artist, published author and business coach for Leigh & Paula.

She also swears, mostly on purpose.

One last step
50% Complete

Please enter your details below and we’ll send you a reminder email on the day

* note that you will also be signed up to our email list. You can unsubscribe at any time