That's the big difference. If every musician could read charts, production might come here. Since no one can read on a proficient level, Fort Collins isn't even on the map. Every single working musician in NYC, Nashville and LA reads. Every single one. Jamming is something you do away from an audience. In front of people and other working musicians, you play your parts. There are no exceptions - unless you're the actual artist, of course.
Back then, for club dates, there were fancy supper clubs that supported the unions and there were seedier clubs that booked non-union, out of town acts to come thru. The union didn't interfere much with the non-union clubs. How could you police acts driving in from Pennsylvania and Delaware for the night? Trust me, no one was paying Springsteen union scale back then. He either packed the joint or he didn't.
There is no industry here for musicians. There is nothing that generates revenue that would support a union. I think that people that mention forming a union are simply nanny-staters who can't take care of their own affairs. They're certainly not very smart people or they would realize that there has to be an organized stream of revenue in which to form a union. Talking about it is ridiculous. Stupid. They have no idea. It's an insult to a profession.
Being in the musicians union had it's own challenges. If you missed a call for being sick or, lord forbid, you went out of town in production season, they'd move you to the bottom of the call list. There is no such thing as time-off in the local. If you take time off, it might take 3-4 weeks or more to get back on a call depending on what the Broadway season did. If there were a bunch of shows wrapping production, that meant there were a bunch of entire orchestras reading for parts. Now, with all the digital productions coming out of basements and apartments and loops of every track ever recorded cataloged somewhere, there isn't even a demand for live tracking anymore. The only people getting paid are the producers who can get their product sold.
Unfortunately, for 99% of music enthusiasts, music is a hobby. Don't fool yourself. Enjoy your hobby and if you get paid once in a while, enjoy that too. I would warn against creating any animosity or hints of conflict with any of the clubs that allow live music. They don't exactly seem to be rolling in the dough because they host live music.
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