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Writers & Singers Who Don’t Sing

July 8, 2019

If you want someone to pay you for something, don’t do it for free

Barbra Streisand is one of the greatest recording artists of all time. Her accolades are nearly without peer.

She’s an EGOT, one of few people to win an Emmey, a Grammy, an Oscar and a Tony award. She won two Oscars, one for best actress for Funny Girl and one for best song for Evergreen. She’s the only woman to win the Golden Globe for best director, again for Yentl.

She’s the only person to record a number one album in each of the last six decades. She has the most number one albums of any female artist. Sh had nine Golden Globes. She has sold over 150M albums.

Do you know what she doesn’t like to do?


Seriously. She doesn’t particularly like the sound of her voice. Telling an interviewer in a recent Mirror article,

If I sang happy birthday, I’d sound lousy.

I was thinking about Ms. Streisand this morning as we sang hymns in church.

I’m a writer. I’ve had a couple of books published, for which I got paid. I’ve written for magazines, for which I’ve also gotten paid. My first agent explained that if you want to get paid for something, you shouldn’t give it away for free.

In the internet-age, everyone can be an author, and very few of us get paid. Sure, some do, but most people who create content on the internet do not. Internet “exposure” doesn’t count. No one really wants to pay for content. But, they are happy to “give you exposure.” Saying you’ll work for the exposure is just another way of saying you’ll work for free.

As much as I appreciate people coming to my little corner of the internet every day M-F and reading the sribbles I put out, the fact is I don’t get paid for this. I don’t even get the advertising money.

So, am I breaking my rule? Am I giving things away for free and precluding the ability to get paid? I don’t think so.

I do break my rule in one area. I write for my local monthly newspaper. It’s an opinion column. I write it for free. And it means it would be hard for me to ever insist to my editor that I should start getting paid for it.

But, this blog doesn’t break the rule. I’m not doing it for free. That might sound strange since I just said I don’t get paid for it. But, working for free assumes that I’m working for someone else’s benefit. That I’m creating a product and giving it to someone else and not getting compensated for it.

The blog may be free, but I’m not working for free. . .if that makes sense.

What’s this have to do with Barbra Streisand and church? She admits she doesn’t enjoy singing. It’s not something that relaxes her. Again from the Mirror article,

I never sing unless I have to. I don’t sing around the house. Singins is like work to me, it’s professional. It’s something I do. It’s not cathartic – it’s the opposite. I don’t go around singing.

It reminds me of my daughter when she was in high school. She got a 5 on the AP Calculus test. I suggested she study a STEM topic in college,

Dad, I’m good at math. . .I just don’t like it.

What if you were sitting next to Barbra Steisand in church? Would you enjoy it? I love her voice. I can’t imagine anything better than joining her in singing “Nearer My God To Thee” or “How Great Thou Art.” But, to her it wouldn’t be. She would be giving something away for free that she gets paid for. It would be work.

Some people will sing because they enjoy it, church, home, in the car, it doesn’t matter. They get intrinsic value. It’s cathartic. Others of us write for the same reason. Just because we aren’t getting paid doesn’t mean we are working for free.

Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. His blog updates every weekday. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife, thirteen children and grandchildren.

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(c) 2019 Rodney M Bliss, all rights reserved

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