At 03:54 PM 1/28/2009, Parker Dinkins wrote:
>5. Pay the subject an honorarium when you get the release signed.
>Some may think this last item is controversial, but when you are dealing
>with professional musicians it's a good idea to approach an interview as
But you aren't asking for them to do what they do for a living. They
have proven track records as musicians. They might be great for an
interview or might be nearly a waste of time. Also, payment may
create a "performance" idea instead of a simple factual recounting.
And what about the rest of us researchers who don't have ANY funding
for this? I introduced myself to one musician and asked whether he'd
be willing to do a brief phone interview and the response was,
"What's your budget?" I explained that I was just a person, with no
affiliation, no advance, nothing; that I was doing this all on my own
time and dime and would likely end up in the red; and that I was just
hoping that he would cooperate so that his story could be told - this
was met with, "What's your budget?" At that point, I thanked him for
his time and gave up.
I think some musicians have heard about this (particularly the very
well-paying Smithsonian Jazz Oral History Project) and have
Not to paint such a bleak picture, because this isn't the norm in my
experience (nor do I wish for it to become the norm). For the nearly
100 interviews conducted for my book, no money was paid. Folks
received a copy of the book when it was published and we made them
feel that their stories were important and that it was all for a good cause.
We lose more history each and every day. So many of the people that I
research are not even on the radar of folks with money so it's
unlikely that anyone would fund the work. That's why it's called a
labor of love.