Sunday, October 21, 2012

Paying for our Precious time

Different Spin
The Star Metro
19th October, 2012

My husband and I were invited for an anniversary-cum-launch event at Sepang a few days ago, and to be honest, after a few hectic days of late dinner events and long working hours; I was not too keen in going to an event that required me to drive an hour or so in the rain, potentially stuck in the jam and away from my two girls whom I have not spent much time with of late. But I had RSVP-ed “YES”, and a promise is a promise, so reluctantly, I retouched my makeup and braved the jam to be at this function.

I am glad I went.For starters, unlike most events I’ve attended, it started on time. In fact, it started right on the dot. 7:30pm. No typical “Malaysian timing” excuse and such. 

Guests who arrived late, had to tiptoe their way in during the fashion show. The speech was short and sweet (no politicking rah-rah or fancy ‘flowery’ words that usually puts my soul to sleep) and I got to catch up with some old friends over a lovely spread of food and conversation. I also bumped into an acquaintance whom my husband and I were trying to get in touch with over the past few days for a new campaign. The added bonus was when I was given a handsome sum of shopping vouchers on top of the goodie bag, as a token of my attendance. Something, I didn’t really expect but was grateful for nonetheless.

Talk about the Law of Attraction!

Just a week ago, my friends from the showbiz industry, were having a rather lengthy discussion on ‘appearance fees’.

“How many of you ask for an appearance fee when you are invited to grace an event?” asked a singer-songwriter pal of mine.

“Cause I do and I am not embarrassed to request for at least a token.”

I answered, “Shy-lah. If they offer it to me, I’ll take it of course – but if they don’t, I usually decide if it’s an event worth painting my face for, and RSVP from there.”

“See? That’s the problem. We need the organizers to know that our presence brings value to their event. And this is our time and effort, nak berdandan, pakai baju…duit minyak lagi! (we have to get made-up, dressed-up…and don’t forget fuel expenses!) Surely they should know this right?”

She makes a valid point.

In Holly/Bollywood, big payments to entertainers indicate a welcome change in a culture, where artists and entertainers have been traditionally forced to perform or offer their services for nominal amounts or worst, for free.

I heard that a few (top) local acts and emcees were ‘pressured’ into performing for free for events deemed to be of national or state-level importance. One artist candidly told me that he did not want to offend the (predatory nature of the) VIP(s), so he kept giving the excuse that he was busy. Eventually, they stopped calling him and found a new prey.

Initially, he was flattered that he was invited for their high society parties, but he noticed that his invitation also required him to either emcee, sing or tell a joke or two – for free. He didn’t find it amusing after a few functions especially when he was heavily expected to perform at each event AND he had to turn down other paying gigs for this ‘invite’.

I have been invited to certain functions, and sometimes, I emcee for them in the spur of the moment; but this rarely happens, and if it does, I do it because I want to- not because I am forced or expected to do so pro bono. I guess it really boils down to the individual. If the invite has some commercial aspect to it, then it would only be fair for the organizer to pay a small token (at least in substantial products or in kind if not in cash), to show their appreciation to the celeb for gracing their event. Otherwise, it is up to him or her to ensure that he or she shares the same ideals as the organizer or event’s objective, and go from there.

Now lets get back to my singer-songwriter’s point earlier. She feels we need to make it across the board that all artistes needs to be paid, be it in cash or kind, when being invited to grace an event - especially if the artistes’ presence brings added ‘glam value’ and ultimately, more media coverage to the event. By doing this, it will send a clear signal of changing the mindset and societal norms that nothing comes for free.

My friend Owen Leed agrees.

“Celebrities should be able to charge for their time. No one expects a lawyer’s time for free right? Or an accountant’s. Problem is too many have spoiled the market so there needs to be a mindset in those requesting a celebrity.”

Oh! But then the “eh mengada lah dia ni..ingat dia ni siapa nak minta token? (He/she is so annoying. Who does he/she think he/she is to ask for a token?)”  comments follows suit.

So how now brown cow?

While celebrity artistes have every right to demand their dues at functions, I feel there’s an exception for certain events – like charity. My pal from Empowering Youth Endeavors (EYE) Project, Christopher Tock, shares my opinion.

For charity events… if it’s something close at heart which does not require additional effort on the celebrity’s side, then it’s ok to do it for free. But if it’s for something that will take considerable amount of time and effort, the organizers pun tau lah to give a small token. (For) all the ethnics and appreciation of time spent.”

If all artistes stand firm and request for appearance fees, this would send a clear message to those predators, to not exploit and take advantage of these personalities – especially the newbie’s, hungry for media exposure.

What do you think?

Daphne is a TV anchor, Broadcast Journalist, Fashion entrepreneur newbie and sometimes actress.  She flirts with her decks when her alter ego DJ DefJ beckons. Follow her ramblings on @daphCLPT.

1 comment:

  1. So true! It's kinda sad that sometimes people are always expecting you to do things for free. i sing with my sisters in a band and we independently produced our own EP and quite a number of people are like "bagi free la bah CD ko".. don't go and eat at a restaurant for free right? tsk tsk tsk.

    joan (jadesisters)