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Guy Balks After His Girlfriend Expects His Band To Perform At Her Birthday Party For Free

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Some people take advantage of artists. They expect them to share their skills without any compensation for their art.

Redditor ThenSwim567 encountered this very issue with his girlfriend. So he turned to the “Am I The A**hole” (AITA) subReddit for moral judgment.

He asked:

AITA for telling my girlfriend she’d need to pay me if she wants my band to perform at her birthday party?

The Original Poster (OP) explained:

“It’s my (20M) girlfriend’s (20F) birthday next week and she’s planning on having a party at her place.”

“We were talking about it last night and she told me it would be really cool if my band could perform at her birthday party.”

“I’m in a band with two of my friends and we’re pretty famous locally.”

“I told her I could perform at her party but she’d need to pay us.”

“She flipped out and said I never do anything for her without expecting something in return.”

“I felt like what I said was justified as it’s not just me in the band but 2 other guys as well and they need to be paid for their time.”


Redditors gave their opinions on the situation by declaring:

  • NTA – Not The A**hole
  • YTA – You’re The A**hole
  • NAH – No A**holes Here
  • ESH – Everyone Sucks Here

Redditors agreed OP was the a**hole.

“‘Pretty famous locally’ YTA. Deflate that head of yours.” ~ threat-lvl-midnite

“Every guy in every band I knew in college really truly thought they weren’t just ‘three guys who get together in a garage but don’t play actual shows.’ Coincidentally, they’d all have described themselves as ‘pretty famous locally,’ too.” ~ helpme_ima_hostage

“This is his girlfriend. Do it as her bday gift. If he needs to, pay his band members for her as her gift.”

“That or say ‘I’m sorry, my band members aren’t available that day.'”

“Sometimes, you do nice things for your SO without instantly jumping to monetary compensation. especially when it’s their birthday. I’m sorry you need to get paid every single time someone requests a favor.”

“Also, he’s in some random shitty college band. It’s not a job. It’s a hobby. Moreover, he’s not missing out on other gigs because presumably he’s gonna be there anyway. So, he’s not losing out on money in this scenario. The only thing he’s gonna lose is his GF lmfao.” ~ basado_police

“No. NTA. Don’t ask your friends and family to work for free, that shows a complete lack of respect for their work.”

“If OP was an accountant and asked for money to do his girlfriend’s taxes it wouldn’t be a big deal, but he’s a musician and our society views art as ‘not a real trade’ and undervalues the people who do it, even tho art is one of the things intrinsic to human culture that makes it work.”

“My ex boyfriend asked me to do his band a logo while we were together, and you best believe i charged him for it, and he paid without complaining because he values my art and the time it takes me to do it.”

“It would be different if OP was offering his band to play a set for free as a birthday gift, but he hasn’t, she’s asked them to play and as such should not be excused from any fees involved.” ~ leftytrash161

Some were conflicted.

“Even if they were just 3 guys in their garage, they still have a right to charge for gigs. It’s their ability and equipment and weekend being used here. I fail to see how OP is TA here, but that may also may be because I like to support smaller and localized acts and make sure they’re being supported. Fuck me right.” ~ mad87645

“On that first point, I’m willing to be that the same people who are here saying YTA to OP would also call anyone who wants to commission a visual art piece for free an asshole as well.”

“Just pay artists for their art people, it shouldn’t be a point of contention.” ~ mad87645

“I dunno. I’m an artist, and I would definitely draw something as a gift for my SO’s bday. The difference is that they’re my partner, not some random on the internet demanding free work. Is he obligated to do this? Well, no. But damn, it’s one day, and it’s her birthday. Obviously she’s gonna be hurt about it.” ~ mildlypapery

“But to be fair, does your art also require 2 other willing participants who need to be paid, thousands of dollars worth of bulky equipment to be moved and set up (and will be a liability at a party) and it to take up a considerable portion of your weekend in a rigid fashion rather than being able to be undertaken at your own leisure (to a degree)?”

“Even though a commissioned visual art piece usually takes more hours to complete than the amount of hours total that go into a gig, there’s loads more moving parts and pieces that need to fall into place for a successful gig to happen. It’s not just ‘for one day.'”

“Maybe I should’ve made the original analogy to be more like OP being in a play and the SO asking it to be performed at their party for free.” ~ mad87645

“He gets paid for it, it’s a job. It doesn’t make a difference how big they are or what he does (if anything, we don’t actually know despite you assuming they’re just a ‘shitty college band’) outside of the band for work. It’s a job, it’s laborious, it requires skill, it requires creativity, it requires preparation, it has overheads, it has moneys invested into it, it requires risk management, it requires significant time investments outside of the actual gig.”

“She can at least offer to pay him for the work he’d be doing rather than request he do it for free if it’s that important to her that his band perform at her party, it’s nice if he offers too but he should never be obligated too.”

“My relationships aren’t transactional (thanks for assuming again), but my work is. I may give free advice, I may offer discounts, but I don’t work for free. Neither should anyone else. And conversely I don’t expect my SOs/family/friends to work for me for free just because I have a relationship with them. I pay them for their time and work.” ~ mad87645

It’s something worth discussing.