An Open Letter to Oprah, Whose ‘The Life You Want’ Tour Asked Me to Work for Free…

Oprah Winfrey's 'The Life You Want' Weekend
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To achieve the life you want, avoid situations that devalue your worth. Like when Oprah Winfrey’s ‘The Life You Want’ tour, with tickets priced up to $999, asks you to perform for free.

The following open letter to Oprah Winfrey comes from Revolva, an internationally-renowned hula hoop dancer, circus sensation, writer and character performer.  It was originally posted on her site,  You can find her on Facebook and Twitter.

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Dear Oprah:

No effing way.  I could not believe it when a producer from Harpo Studios got in touch last week, asking if I could perform at your “The Life You Want” San Jose tour stop.  I mean, OPRAH WINFREY!  I’ve always wanted to hear, “Welcome Revollllllvaaaaa,” as I cartwheeled onstage.

Then I’d tell you my life story.  The profundity of all my lingering student loan debt causing you to weep and then declare to America that I am your new BFF.  (Sorry, Gayle!)

And the title of your tour: The life you want?  Um, hello!  As a performer, writer and activist, I’ve spent 12 years taking a million chances.  Attempting to live in alignment with my spirit, rather than our toxic culture.  I’ve spoken up as a survivor.  I’m the female comedy act in a space helmet.

You want me in your lineup, right?  Your producer was totally calling to add me to  your list of “trailblazers,” including Deepak Chopra and Elizabeth Gilbert, right?!?

Ah, but Oprah, you are a wise woman.  I should have known that.  In the phone call with your producer, there was a deep spiritual lesson in store for me.

Here is our paraphrased conversation:

Producer: “Your stuff sounds great. Are you interested?”

Me: “Hell yes! Oprah! Oprah!”

Producer: “Okay, so just to be clear, you’d be on a stage outside the event.  And, you know, just to be clear, Oprah will not be on that stage.  Oh, and just to be clear, this gig isn’t paid.”


Dude.  Okay.  I have to admit that I was initially heartbroken that my name would not be bellowed with 800 extra vowel sounds.

Fortunately, my heartbreak was soon short-circuited by the stroke I had when I realized your tour, with its tickets starting at $99 (for the homeless), middling out at $599 (for fast food employees) and rocketing to $999 (f90s rappers) — featuring trailblazers who never have to dig through every compartment in their car for enough change to cross the Bay Bridge — would be ringing up local performers asking them to do their job for no pay.

The following image summarizes the situation:


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In one day, your arena tour (capacity around 18,000, each ticket $99 to $999) is raking in more money than most people will make in a year.  In ten years.  Or maybe their entire lives.

And yet, your side stage, featuring local acts, is paying in that old tap-dancing, phantom promise of “exposure.”

As I was choking on my own tongue (stroke!), your producer also mentioned there was the added bonus of a ticket to the event.  Unfortunately, her call coming just four days before your San Jose stop, I didn’t have the whole weekend free.  I also texted my landlord, and it turns out he does not accept rent payment in Oprah Winfrey tickets.  Gah!

Since you are the most beloved person in America, I might be the first performer whose chakras twisted out of alignment when your blockbuster tour about living “the life you want” asked me to work for free.  Your producer, assessing my hesitation, further explained that,

“People started calling US, asking to perform, so we thought we’d add a stage for local acts.”

I punched myself in the arm.  Stupid, stupid!  Why was I always asking the Forbes top 400 richest people in America if I could work for free? (Geeze, Revolva, stop being such an eager beaver! You have bills, girl!)  And then, I remembered — I didn’t contact you.  I don’t have your digits, Oprah.  Last time I checked, even if it was to round out volunteers, your tour was contacting artists.


To be fair, working in exchange for cultural capital isn’t exactly a new concept.

There’s a time-honored precedent for the idea that artists can be paid in a resumé line.  Lena Dunham, of Girls fame, and Amanda Palmer, of omg-she’s-so-badass fame, recently launched contests for opening acts.  Unpaid acts.  In an era where “the 99 percent vs. the 1 percent” is top of mind, the Internet didn’t respond kindly to Lena or Amanda’s request for free labor.  I suspect it’s because there is simply no reason why well-off people, on extremely lucrative tours, need free acts.

To that end, Oprah, my call with your producer resulted in me saying I didn’t feel great about making a two-hour round trip commute.  Then paying for gas and parking, and taking hours out of my day to do a free act.  Especially when the event is charging up to $999 per ticket.  Could she see if there was some kind of budget so my outgoing costs wouldn’t result in me losing money to perform?

Here, I would like to make a note.  Your producer emailed back and said the tour could offer me a travel stipend.  That was something.  To be clear, it was something that most professional entertainers would charge to perform at a five-year-old’s birthday party.  If any less beloved billionaire — Mark Zuckerberg or the Koch brothers — had asked Bay Area residents to work a $99 to $999-ticket event for free or (when pressed) for a small stipend, the response would be:


SF Occupy
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SF Occupy
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Maybe ask artists to work for free in a city without the Ellis Act? I’m just sayin.’


My question is: Should ANY event charging that much for tickets offer people the “opportunity” to donate free skills?


Criticizing the Oprah Winfrey tour is scary, Oprah Winfrey!  I can already see the impending comments about how artists should be grateful to appear at your event.  Which, by the way, is certainly paying the going rate to the lighting people, the sound people, the caterers, the janitors, the people who erected the outdoor side stage. Basically, everyone except the local artists appearing on said stage.

Folks reading this might not understand how much rehearsal time, equipment fees, booking time, advertising costs, etc., go into being an entertainer.

The pay for a gig is payment for ALL those back end work hours.  Here’s a breakdown.

Also, it’s pay toward a world that supports art.  If we’d prefer to benefit from the work of all artists — not just those who are independently wealthy (“Let’s experience art created only by Kim Kardashian!”), then the rates for someone’s blood, sweat and tears have to be fair.  Events that are netting a metric butt-ton of money are just being unethical to offer artists nothing — or free tickets — or a child’s birthday party rates.  And if that’s what’s happening, maybe someone should speak up and say,

“Is this tour about how to achieve to your ‘ideal life’ REALLY going to rattle its tin cup and ask local artists for a free act?”


Back to that spiritual lesson you had in store for me, Oprah.

Maybe it’s because my car broke down, and I’m struggling.  Maybe it’s because I’ve been doing this for 12 years.  And after all the requests for free or discount work, the one by a billionaire’s tour was the straw that broke my back.  But I thought it through, and achieving “the life you want” is not always easy.  The risks we have to take, to transform this culture into something more nurturing, involve looking at the way things are and saying,

“Hey, wait. That’s not cool!”

Even if we have to say that to Oprah Winfrey.

As a totally meta experience, your tour taught me that achieving the “life you want” might even involve holding the ‘Life You Want Tour’ to its own mantra.  So I asked if y’all could come up with a fair wage.  Asking that question caused your producer, who had previously been excited about my “Single Ladies” hula hoop act, to go silent for 24 hours.  Then reply that she’d filled the stage (presumably with free acts).  She said she would contact me in the future at an event “with a larger budget.”


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I love your work, Oprah. I think you would’ve loved mine, too.



But, in the spirit of your own event: The life I WANT does not involve mega tours netting unfathomable amounts of real, tangible money, while local artists are coached to accept all or most of their payment in the least stable form of currency: exposure.  If the “trailblazing” I do today is being an upstream voice, then I’ll at least make a bold statement about the life I DO want:

Tweet: I want a life in which people are not asked to work for free—by people who can totally afford to pay.

If you didn’t realize your tour, with its wealthy speakers and its $99 to $999 tickets, was asking for a free service from local acts, is there something you can you do to make it right?  On behalf of the artists of the world, that’s a question I’ll leave you with, Oprah.  I’d like to believe that, as compassionate and generous as you appear to be, as a self-made woman who has been here, the life YOU want involves people being able to pay their rent.

I still hope to one day rock a stage with you.  I’ll just have to keep my cartwheel fantasy fresh for a tour that fully enfolds local artists under its own title.



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Top image by Blanca Stella Mejia, licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC by 2.0).

331 Responses

  1. Chris H

    If you don’t hold the line, you’ll be dragged around by it. Well done.

    • FarePlay

      Unless Musicians start saying NO in unison to bad deals they will continue to be kicked to the curb.

      A book publisher and 900 authors told Amazon to take a hike on a deal they didn’t like or want. For over six months Amazon delayed shipments of their books, referred customers to other titles and refused to take pre-orders on new books by major authors. The authors got hurt losing 50 to 90% of their income, but they refused to take the deal; mainly because Amazon’s bad behavior public opinion shifted against Amazon, who ended up backing down.

      I say hats off to Hachette Publishing and the authors who stood behind them.

      • Remi Swierczek

        Let’s talk to Oprah about lobbing in new fair use act!
        She has more power than labels and RIAA combined.
        Next day Radio and streaming can convert to $100B music store.

        Happiness and cash to old dogs and all digital nerds including music monetization monk: Google.

      • kabosh

        Well, not that it’s all that important now that the Hachette-Amazon dispute is over, but your contentions about the nature of that dispute, the actions of the participants, the impact on the authors, the motivations of Hachette, and the nature of any connection between Amazon’s prices, Hachette’s net, and author’s earnings, are all incorrect. Of course, they do dovetail nicely with the larger media outlets’ reporting, which relied primarily on the mainstream New York publishing industry’s PR, but people like Barry Eisler, JA Konrath, the Passive Voice blog, and some other outlets like yahoo finance did excellent reporting that contradicts all of your contentions– with primary data, and sourcing. Also, there is absolutely no connection between that issue and the culture of asking artists to offer their work for free– the dispute was entirely between two corporations over how to split royalties on e-books, period.

        • kabosh

          Also, as an aside, no one knows outside the companies knows the exact terms of the settlement, but most speculation by experts leans toward Hachette getting one part of what it wanted, which is retaining the ability to control e-book prices, and Amazon getting one part of what it wanted, which is a tiered profit structure for Hachette which incentivizes Hachette pricing e-books cheaply. I.e., neither party backed down, they negotiated a settlement where they both partly won, and both partly lost. By no means did Amazon back down– the fact that Simon and Schuster settled with Amazon on a similar deal a week earlier merely pushed Hachette to go back to the negotiating table and wrap up a similar deal ASAP.

        • bookish

          There are many, many reasons not to use Amazon. The Hatchette dispute being the least of them. Get down to your local bookshop, you pay a bit more but you’ll be keeping your high street alive!

          • banksgalore

            Bookish, I do agree. In today’s economy saving money is necessary at some level. If we don’t support the “Mom and Pop” stores we’ll have nothing but banks, Duane Reades, and CVSs covering all neighborhoods. I live on the upper Eastside in NYC and we used to have a great many Mom and Pop stores in the neighborhood. The rents skyrocketed and now in a six block area we have 8 banks, 3 Duane Reades and 2 CVSs. Oh, and, 2 Gaps and 2 Banana Republics. The rents pushed the small stores and restaurants out.

            You did good, Revola. (grammar intended) The money is meaningless to Oprah and she’s probably too far removed from paying the “side” acts. If she can give send her audience to AustrAAAAAAlia and give them cars, a few thousand dollars for your act is meaningless to her. But maybe, if she has a heart, and hears about your letter, it will have some effect on her conscious.

            Good luck. I’m going to your site and FB page now.

          • Leigh

            I am inspired by your grace, response, and wit. I’d go to your show and pay $999!

        • FarePlay

          You better explain your sources, so people understand what your talking about.

      • Heather M.

        Fareplay, Usborne/EDC Publishing, a small publisher in OK, was the first to say no to Amazon, because our CEO believes in rewarding the people who do the work. New Usborne titles still aren’t on Amazon after 3-4 years, and our sales are 40% higher this year than last (when they were higher than 3 years ago). If you are ever in the market for children’s books, contact your local Usborne rep and help a local family. :) And remember that Usborne made the cover of Publisher’s Weekly first — and gave Hachette the courage to take on Amazon. :)

        Oprah’s lack of class here is sickening. Wonder if she’d have done her show or The Color Purple for free “to get exposure” back in the day… Great job Revolva!!!

    • Jon

      yes, Chris…..”and the EXPOSURE” will give you LOTS more opportunities, I’m SURE”……to WORK YET AGAIN FOR FREE?!?!………Oprah is a horse’s ass for suggesting this – and / or for hiring the producers who’d suggest this. People can suck.

      • lilibaiyu

        The “exposure” gambit is 100% spurious, trust me. I fell for it as a young songwriter, it was trotted out innumerable times by any number of bigwig industry professionals and I dutifully went along for a while until I started to realize…no, getting the “credit” on my resume never leads to anything whatsoever. So then my songwriting partner and I began insisting on being paid for our work, nothing outrageous or over-the-top, but paid for our services and MY GOD, that proved to be an incredibly unpopular move with our associates – we were called “difficult to work with” bitches quite regularly – meaning we wouldn’t shut up and work for free anymore. I’m not working in the music business anymore. It’s the greatest revolving cement mixer full of unpaid gigs and promises for future opportunities that never materialize anybody could imagine.

    • Bob O'Rourke

      Well now the Winfrey people can claim that they don’t pay anyone just minimum wage.

  2. Irving Mindreader

    She’s not wrong, but so longwinded I felt my sympathy waning.

    • Lord Fancypants

      Yes, those lower class types can be so long winded. They should stick with the traditional F you!

      • Lord Fancypants

        and another thing about the uncivilized self righteous masses is that they don’t recognize irony or sarcasm

        • Justin Mayer

          basically ill take any opportunity to say my piece regardless how many people dont wanna hear it…

          until they pay me what they owe me ill be straight gunning on all of them…

          i cannot live with anybody being above the law when i am not equally allowed to engage in such profitable criminal activities…

          • Lord Fancypants

            Wait a minute I was about to surrender to your superior intellect when your previous comment disappeared what happened?

        • Stu Johnson

          Sorry M’Lord. In the dumbing down of America, irony was the first casualty.

        • Zac

          Thank goodness you’re representing the characterless mass of internet users that have to make every single thing they encounter a joke. Because the internet need a little bit more sarcasm and cynicism. Everything is a joke and we all need to laugh along. Right, Chuckles?

        • Dana

          That wasn’t sarcasm. There really are trolls in this world who will yawn all through your essay and then leave some criticism about the length of the text. This one was particularly energetic; there for a while all they commented with was tl;dr. Look it up.

          The Internet has always been a text-based medium. If you don’t want to read, quit cluttering up the “tubes” and go watch TV.

      • Tuete

        Even I recognized that this was sarcasm and english is not my first language,

    • Revolva

      Hmm. Could you have drawn on the power of your username … to read my mind?! (Prob faster.) But thanks for forcing yourself through ALL THE WORDS. Next time, I’ll just tweet “Fuck!!!” People can infer the rest. :)

      • Belly dancer who likes to get paid

        My common FB post when I get these crap “offers” is: blah, blah, blah fuckers. My response to anyone who offers me “exposure” in exchange for a performance in a $600 handmade costume is, “people die of exposure.” This is just one more reason for me to hate Oprah. However, it brought you an other fan. :)

        • salishkat

          “people die of exposure” wow, thank you for that one, I hope you don’t mind, I’ll share it with my bellydancer and other artistic friends

          • Anonymous

            “People die from exposure” – Pay Artists!! Can we say T-shirt!

      • Jennifer Cabaud

        You are so right on!!!! I loved reading every word of what you wrote and I thought you did a fantastic job of expressing the problem in the way you did. Good for you….if we don’t speak up about this shit no one will get it. Oprah and her machine are cranking out the money and how much is enough? All your points are spot on and funny to boot!

        You go girl and stand your ground…I will share this for sure!!! xoxo

      • Jennifer Cabaud

        Love it Love loveit!!!!!!
        You are so right on!!!! I loved reading every word of what you wrote and I thought you did a fantastic job of expressing the problem in the way you did. Good for you….if we don’t speak up about this shit no one will get it. Oprah and her machine are cranking out the money and how much is enough? All your points are spot on and funny to boot!

        You go girl and stand your ground…I will share this for sure!!! xoxo

      • glitterdome

        after having spent the last 14 years creating small artistic public shows for free and getting small business owners to help pay for them… just so i can have invested thousands of hours of my time, just for them to hopefully even break even … all for the sake of exposure.. well Revolva, you had me at Fuck! feel free to infer the rest.. your amazing! keep shining bright <3

    • emp-pathetic

      yes, i agree; the 2 minutes it took to read the entire article was such an extremely long time to hold an empathetic feeling. like, i honestly feel bad for a someone who has cancer, but they are sick for so long! it’s such an imposition and strain on my emotions.

    • Tittly Smallbottom

      Agreed. Notes to self:
      1. Don’t work with Oprah
      2. Don’t talk to Revolvah

      • Anonymous

        Well, that is the wrong attitude here, would you provide a service to someone who promises to give you one awesome review (that takes less than 30 seconds to type) for your hard work and talent and that person could more than afford to pay your going rate?
        If the answer is yes: you’re a very useful tool
        If the answer is no: welcome to the real world your smarter than your comment has lead me to believe.

    • Joppa

      I empathize with her but her performance and letter were long winded. Be more confident, dynamic and get to the point. It would be cool if she had original music by an upcoming artist for her act instead of doing Beyonce moves with a hula hoop. I wish her the best.

      • Creminta

        Does she pay a licensing fee for her use of “Single Ladies”?

        • james low

          Actually the venue does, so she doesn’t have to. Any venue or restaurant where live or recorded or live music is played pays licensing fees to ASCAP and BMI for just this purpose.

          • Technically

            Technically you are correct for live performances, but she has uploaded these things to Youtube and the like. ASCAP and BMI cover live events (if the venue DOES carry it) but not public videos of said events.

            Wouldn’t it be a major kick if Beyonce sued her for the video?

    • Shyaporn Theerakulstit

      Her open letter post was just over 1,500 words. In 16-point font. With pictures and video. If anyone found their attention waning so much over a well-written, 1,500-word article, perhaps they should stick to web comics and Twitter.

      • Diana

        Hey now, there are many very smart, insightful people who read webcomics as well as more traditional prose forms. Your high horse is tad wobbly on that one.

      • Thucydides

        Considering some of the grammar I’ve seen in some of the responses on this website, it doesn’t surprise me at all that there would be those who would have trouble getting through a 1500 word essay. Apparently, readin’ and writin’ aren’t very high on their list of priorities. It makes me wonder how well–and at what level–the rest of their thought processes are functioning.


    As Musicians and Entertainers it is more so in our Nature to be much more Kind and Creative than Money Orientated. The majority of us just want to make a reasonable living off of our works which is way to much to ask these days. I have realized that the majority of us independent artists need to become much Meaner and Colder towards people who are constantly seeking to take advantage of us. They are very disrespectful and obviously don’t value our artistic abilities and all of the time, effort, sacrifices, and money that we have to invest just to attempt to make good music. It’s time to take a stand against these human demons who keep seeking to use us and abuse us! You start working for free or for pennies and tell me how that feels! Until then Go 2 Hell!

  4. Decisions, Decisions

    Just curious how many people would have seen you performing, Revolva?

    • Revolva

      I’m not sure about audience count for a free “Life You Want” act. It would have been some number of the folks wandering past an outdoor side stage, while simultaneously being distracted by grabbing free samples and having their picture taken with a cardboard cutout of Oprah. It would not have been nearly the people reached by writing this post. At last count, the original post has been viewed over 304,000 times. Plus it was covered in Jezebel, Daily Caller, Madame Noir—and Paul asked if he could reprint it here. I also went live on TMZ to talk about paying artists: So I have no idea what the reach is for the general idea, beyond the 304K that I can see. Regardless, I would turn the gig down 1000 times over in exchange for the connections I’ve made with other self-made people, around this issue, and for the opportunity to discuss “exposure” in mainstream media. Who knew? Thanks, “The Life You Want” tour. Your teachings work in mysterious ways.

      • skinnymon

        Exactly… and you will probably get a slot in Absynthe in Vegas, or one of the other Speigeltent shows around the world from doing this. This is the best exposure you could ask for. you rock. Depending on what else you can do, I can get you in Cirque. You are getting the life you want. I am here to help.

      • Brocephus

        Good job. It’s difficult enough that an artist’s livelihood is so dependent on public whimsy, and the (so often predatory) business end of the industry – that know so little of the effort one invests to create their craft, but when other (esp. moneyed) artists take advantage… well, that’s reprehensible.

      • Sean

        Revolva – I saw you perform with Los Straitjackets. You (and they, of course) were fantastic. I’m a musician who is routinely asked to play for free, or even more heinously, pay to play. Stick to your guns, until you find the day when plumbers, doctors, mechanics and lawyers offer to work for free “for exposure.” That’s a myth, and I regret that it took me playing many side stages for free for the promised nonsense of “exposure.” If you don’t value your work, no one else certainly will. Keep fighting the good fight, and thank you.

      • Sandra H

        I fully support you and your decision not to work for free or a penance! I am a self employed professional and often get ask to treat people for free or reduced rates. I understand not everyone can afford me and there are reasons for that. I have worked long & hard to be in the position I am in. (Huge amount of Edu.)
        There is only 1 of me and tons of them. I have found that very few people truly value things they receive for free.
        I am very happy that it has worked out so well for you and you have become a voice for those who aren’t able to speck up for themselves!

      • Rainy Steward

        I read your article gladly because you were sharp, relevant, funny and just. I watched your video. Maybe the Life You Want is one that has to do with owning your own TV show, owning your own street-wise magazine for artists to sell so they can pay their rent, writing articles, interviewing people all over the place, re-populating Speakers’ Corner which once took on the biggies like womens’ right to the vote. It’s been a long time since I’ve read something so well written, vibrant and to-the-point – on any venue. Just go with the Go – and this essay seems to have the Go in it.

  5. Myles Na Gopaleen

    Revolva should become a writer. She’s better than most Hollywood hacks writing today and nobody asks them to write for free


      Sadly Myles, there are many of us writers who are constantly (at least two or three times a day – i kid you not) asked to work for free. good luck fellow artists. we battle on.

    • Marjorie Preston

      I’m a freelance writer and when I hire people from time to time–graphic artists, proofreaders, admin people–I pay a good rate even when I know I could get away with lowballing them. To do otherwise would be to disrespect them and myself. Oprah Winfrey may not micromanage every level of her business or be aware that her tour was soliciting freebies, but if she knows it now, she should send out a royal command to stop it. The first line I saw when I visited the tour site was “Claim your power.” That’s all this entertainer has done.

      • Jacki

        Marjorie, cheers! I’m a freelance writer and I also pay what is fair rather than what I can. I toiled through my time of writing for 2c/word, but I never make my contributors do the same. I pay them a fair rate for their experience as best I can as long as I still make money for my time too. I can’t pay my bills, but … I also can’t make myself underpay talented people.

  6. Dorothy Braker

    This was well written and bravo for taking the step to do it. I know only too well how many other artists are feeling deeply angered and hurt by actions like these every day of the year, but this stood out to me as being exactly the negative of what Oprah is supposed to be about. Shame on you, Oprah, for not (at the very least) realizing that paying the side events their true worth, in real dollars, would actually make the tour more effective and leave much better publicity in your wake.

  7. Adam

    Glad to see another performer standing up against free performance. In some cases it may seem futile but it’s worth the effort to stand your ground. She could have at least paid you a basic wage to do the show…the more people who opt out, the more publicity this gets, the more artists will be paid down the line, even if just to avoid some negative publicity. It’s a start. Add this to the Amanda Palmer incident and we’ve practically got a movement going :)

  8. Phill J Smith

    I don’t think this was the best way of approaching this situation, in any business you have situations where people will want to barter with you and it’s a very acceptable way of doing business. Money is a very short term way of looking at things, and of course money is the main goal of any business but it doesn’t have to be from the immediate client, many businesses when starting out (or even established) will provide services or products in return for bragging rights in press materials because they know they will recupe the cost of that service or client in the long run.

    Oprah has major brand power and this opportunity could have been used to further the career of Revolva in press materials, putting Oprah’s logo on her website, Facebook pages etc could have led to more business and even higher rates essentially tying her name to Oprah.

    Oprah gets free stuff all the time because businesses know that an endorsement from her means big bucks for the company.

    What Revolva has done here has tied her name to Oprah in a negative way, the only reason people are reading this article is because of the Oprah brand, the only reason people are clicking on the video is because they want to know what the Oprah brand was willing to endorse by having Revolva as part of the event, the problem is that things on the internet do not last, they come and go, where as if Revolva would have taken this gig then she could have kept the story alive in every future conversation with a potential client etc

    This is a situation where a good manager would have seen the potential for future revenue, every situation is of course different, and if your neighbour is asking you to play for free for his backyard party of 150 friends because it’s good “exposure”? then by all means say no and write an open letter to your neighbour about it, but when a major brand offers an endorsement or stamp of approval, then this is a major missed opportunity.

    If Revolva would never capitalize on this (and there are a lot of artists that hate marketing and business and just want to perform and collect) then of course this would be a waist of time and money but I still think the open letter was a bad move, now future conversations with potential clients will be more like Oprah almost “hired” me (yes bartering is a form of hiring if there is a contract and if that would have not been acceptable, then asking for a few dollars would guaranteed the “hired” title even if it’s just $1) but I didn’t do it because Oprah didn’t want to pay me.

    Not to mention that no business wants an open letter written about them which means that if a potential client catches wind that Revolva wrote a negative article about a past client or a potential client they’re going to run as fast as they can in the opposite direction.

    • Bandit

      “Oprah gets free stuff all the time..”

      There’s a slight difference between offering goods and services for free and being asked to provide goods and services for free.

    • Zac Shaw

      At least one of this blog’s readers understands how the music business works.

      If you think 300K visitors to DMN (which I assume paid you NOTHING for the piece you wrote) was worth more than Oprah…

      And this: “no business wants an open letter written about them which means that if a potential client catches wind that Revolva wrote a negative article about a past client or a potential client they’re going to run as fast as they can in the opposite direction.”

      Revolva needs to read The Art of Asking. Hint: it’s not about blogging for sympathy for making poor business choices and ending up in 20K in debt.

      While this imaginary “battle against free performance” goes on, other more entrepreneurial musicians are filling the gap and figuring out how to make money as musicians in the 21st century. If you don’t understand how the Oprah offer would open doors to other lucrative revenue streams, you probably lack the management/marketing resources to make it happen. That’s not something to brag about, it’s a problem you need to solve or else that debt will grow.

      • John Dough

        First of all, Zak,
        She’s not in the music business. You’re comparing apples to oranges.
        What I think she’s doing is trying to be valued as a person first as well as an artist. A person who makes a living doing what she wants to do as opposed to scrubbing toilets. Not that there is any shame in that either.
        Secondly you blame her for being in debt as opposed to blaming the system that charges huge amounts of money for virtually worthless information, much like your book on how to succeed in the music “business”.
        What I think she’s doing is making a statement against the hypocrisy of the like of Oprah, who prey on the poor while claiming to stand for the common cause of humanity. People forget that Oprah was no better than Jerry Springer, or Maury Povich, early in her career as a circus ringmaster of laughable social clowns. Her act may be more polished now, but she’s still a vulture, picking on the carcass of humanity.
        So, in short you’re talking apples, and she’s talking about the plantation. You’re a silly Uncle Tom Clown.

      • Sales consultant

        I just find it ironic that you are chiding Revolva for “poor business decisions” leading to debt while denying her the right to ask for paid compensation for her performance.

      • Revolva

        Hi Zac. I’ve had over 307,000 visitors *to my own site.* For the original post. Not to Digital Music News. This already went viral before Paul, from DMN, asked if he could reprint it this week. I’m not an idiot (the 20K in lingering debt is for undergrad and grad school, not from poor business practices; you’d be hard pressed to throw a rock without hitting in American who has student loan debt.)

        Ultimately, I liked the way this site seemed to have a lot of this conversation already happening (with reprint of the Pomplamoose blog, etc). I decided it was important enough to keep the conversation going, so I told DMN yes on the reprint. And now you are reading it, and the conversation IS continuing. Great!

        “If you don’t understand how the Oprah offer would open doors to other lucrative revenue streams, you probably lack the management/marketing resources to make it happen. That’s not something to brag about, it’s a problem you need to solve or else that debt will grow.” <— Just to be clear, although having a big name on your resume CAN help other future clients trust your own brand, I've already been doing this for 12 years. I already *have* brand name clients on my resume.

        Short of actually performing on stage WITH Oprah or having your marketing materials published in all the tour publicity, performing on a side stage in a parking lot once and then putting one *more* brand name onto your resume *doesn't* actually open wide enough additional revenue streams to make it ridiculous to point out that a tour making billions of dollars … could just pay the artists that it is calling up and trying to book.

        If everyone is happy with the way things are, then let's not talk about anything and carry on. If things could change, to create a culture that's less disdainful of the work artists do, then let's talk about how a billion-dollar tour saying (direct quote) "We don't have a budget" is surreal. That's about all this boils down to. I couldn't have predicted this would go viral, when I wrote it, but I'm glad the conversation is happening.

        • Bill

          Nothing but kudos to you for taking this on, Revolva! Although many professions are often undervalued (copywriters, consultants, sales people are three I have experienced), the circumstances you describe here are unconscionable. I applaud your bravery in shining on light on this!

        • My Friends Know of My Fame

          Shuffled into the back parlor of this discussion is the notion that anyone sufficiently “exposed” to garner the attention of Oprah’s producers isn’t entitled to compensation commensurate with her celebrated talents. I’m familiar with Revolva despite an almost hermitic existence deep in the Redwood forest, mostly sheltered from the cultural influence of the Bay Area and with limited time for browsing the web. Oprah gets to charge $1K per ticket because she’s been exposed on an unprecedented level. So, a couple of basic rules applicable to the billionaire — 1) that she’s entitled to fair compensation for her work 2) at rates equivalent to the strength of her draw — really should be honored to avoid a further withering of the social value of art. Even Randians, it seems, would endorse this concept. It’s a tad hypocritical to separate exposure with equivalent pay. And thank you, Revolva, for an enjoyable read.

      • pat

        Maybe you should volunteer for a show for free! Hey Oprah a freebie!

    • Aaron

      You may be right that it could have worked for Revolva, in the way that sucking up to a bully may eventually allow you to become friends with the bully and then bully others from your position of power.

      So, any gain would have been at the expense of her self-respect.

      But IMO, this is a billionaire who holds herself up as “for the people” taking advantage. I think the point is that Oprah is a hypocrite. Which she clearly is.

    • Ned Brisco

      Ah, Phill, you are so completely full of it! Sorry, but you are wrong! Performing for free for the 1% does little to help anyone’s career. Speaking up about the absurdity of the situation does more good. And I’m so glad that you know exactly what Revolva will do: “now future conversations with potential clients will be more like Oprah almost “hired” me…”

      Phill, Phill, Phill—I get the feeling you don’t work in the arts. Perhaps you are some corporate type with a nice, tidy job. You go home at night to your nice tidy house, and watch Oprah on your DVR. Such a waste of life…

      • Telecat

        If you play for free, even once (unless it’s a benefit), you’ll never get paid what you’re worth. The word precedent is lost on the goobers who think Revolva should have taken the performance. If we don’t stand up to assholes like Oprah (no different than the Kochs) we all lose.

        Those of you who’d perform for free, you’re sending a message about what you think you’re worth. Please, knock it the fuck off.

    • John Dough

      Phil, You are such a tool!
      You succeed in illustrating why rich bastards are getting richer all the time and the poor stay poor.- Because the rich do not value people, except to the extant that THEY can profit from them.
      Oprah, however poor she started her life, has been converted to that same capitalistic ideology that has oppressed her kind for millennia. And when I say her kind I mean poor working class people who are forced to work for free, or in this case asked to do so voluntarily. (And she knows she’s only a figurehead, and is powerless tho change anything, without risking her life.)
      Maybe you should ask your housekeeper to work for less because she might get a higher paying gig with a good recommendation by you. Not!
      Why does privilege breed such contempt for the poor? Especially when their “livelihoods” depends on them.
      People like you, Phil, are the problem, and until more people stand up to the likes of your kind, all the way up to uber-rich demigods like Oprah, nothing will change.
      Bravo! Revolva!

    • His Shadow

      barter? Do you know of a bartering system that starts with “give me that valuable thing for free”?

    • Sales consultant


      From the description of the business relationship that was discussed, there was no “endorsement from Oprah” involved. Just an opportunity to perform for no pay on a stage outside the event.

      As far as any future benefit after the show, the Oprah’s folks would not have any reason to provide any for Revolva or any other local artist who performed. Standard “Call Girl Principle” applies: Once services are rendered, the business relationship is over.

      So the only remaining benefit to Revolva would be to add the following to her resume: “performed as a local artist on an outside stage at the Oprah Winfrey ‘The Life You Want’ Tour, San Jose stop”

      As a performer, I don’t think that adds any value for getting future work.

      Now could a savvy manager have gotten more from Oprah’s people? Probably not. The Outside Stage was an afterthought that was not an integral part of the tour. Could the manager have arranged for Oprah to come to the stage to provide an official endorsement on camera for Revolva? No. The audience paid money to see Oprah on the Inside Stage. You don’t create a disruptive event outside the main event for free. It would decrease the value of what was paid for. Also, the unwillingness to provide more than a modest travel stipend indicates the low value Oprah’s people placed for the local artists.

    • chap

      I don’t agree with the “working for exposure” in most cases. Because in most cases, it’s some nobody that is making the offer and the exposure is questionable.

      It sounds like she got burnt in the past and learned this lesson already, but it’s Oprah we are talking about here and being able to drop that name on your resume is worth it

      • judyt00

        not even on a good day would she make any profit from working for free for that selfish, arrogant woman.

    • Daniel

      I agree, and must admit I got caught in the apparent “injustice” until I read the above response. In the big picture, what might look like “free” is a life-changing opportunity. In this case, it would be impossible to deny the miraculous broad spectrum exposure. This is Oprah’s biz people doing her biding for her. She does not have time to micro-manage every single situation connected to big events. Yes, “free” does indeed feel like a slap in the face. Yes, affiliation with Oprah will continue to be a game changer for all sorts of artists and performers and authors, etc.

      • Grant

        It isn’t a matter of whether it was valuable exposure, it’s a matter of the fact that Oprah and her company could have easily paid all the entertainers they wanted to perform with little loss to their profits or fortunes…

      • Waynehavens

        Really Daniel,
        Name one artist who got a life-changing experience performing for free on this tour??? Just one?? Name dropping does not open many doors…

    • Francis B

      Sorry friend, you may be mistaking your own business acumen for her entire life’s meaning, so much more than addition….by subtraction don’t ya know.

    • Wayne

      Do not believe for a moment that an artist who works with Oprah will be allowed to use her logo or likeness on their website or promotional materials unless they pay for the priviledge.

    • Michelle

      There’s no such thing as ‘free stuff,’ Oprah doesn’t get free stuff. The stuff she gets is mentioned on her show or in her magazine, as her favorite things. She gets ‘stuff’ in exchange for advertisement or favorable mention.

  9. Edwardo

    I’ve had so many Facebook fights over the heinous business model that asks artists to work for free. As a performer myself, I wholly support your opinions, Revolva.

  10. dhenn

    Just fyi – her company also keeps 100% of all publishing for every song and cue used on all the shows her company produces. That means the writers end up having to split their writers share with their publishers. She only uses music from libraries that will give her that 100%. Do the math on that one for the number of hours a year her shows are on the air around the world. Neither she nor her company gives a shit about any artist that isn’t a Beyonce level artist so thinking she will somehow start standing up for working musicians and artists is pure fantasy.

  11. zenguitarguy

    I am a career musician who has worked with everyone from Sting to Michael Jackson and have been asked to perform for free more times than I can count. Bravo for speaking up and all of us who work and commit our lives to being artists salute you!

  12. Anonymous

    The tone of this letter is exactly the mentality of the Film Industry in Los Angeles. The film industry has even gone farther with some entities actually taking money from performers without a license, while the FBI did nothing.
    Revola did the right thing by not going to the event
    Hopefully someone sues the Justice Department for not doing anything about instances like this. Some of which has caused people to wind up having to live in the streets of Los Angeles.

    • John Dough

      When someone calls someone else a hater, what does that make them? You ignorant piece of trailer pond scum. Now go watch some Oprah.

    • Sebmund

      Don’t you think Oprah, who is creaming it off of this tour, owes performers a fair wage for their efforts? What do you do for a job? Would you work for free? Would you be offended if somebody that you respect or idolise, who has the means to pay you, asked you to do your job for free?

    • ToscasKiss

      Yeah, Oprah owes her nothing, because Revolva rightly chose not to take the “opportunity.” More artists should do the same, as frustrating as it can be to miss out on certain experiences. Accomplished artists should not be approached and asked to work for free, or even less, except in cases of legitimate charitable organizations raising funds for verifiable good works, and in those cases, everyone involved should be working for charity, not for pay.

    • Hula Hella You?

      Isn’t diarrhea, by definition, wet? Your redundancy is showing.

      While you personally may find it inane and not worth watching (but no one asked you to), hooping nonetheless requires practice and dedication, and anyone proficient in its execution deserves recognition for having applied themselves to doing so if not appreciation for the art itself. Your personal disdain does not universally render it shit. I’d be willing to bet, however, that *you* hooping at any event would illustrate the entire affair as a bile-inducing display of fecal accomplishment, so if that’s what you meant then well-said (if still redundant).

    • winner

      winning comment. Like we are supposed to care about some half naked woman twirling her booty with hula hoops. It’s no unique.

  13. Markus

    Revolva, you have my full support. I am a writer and comedian who has been “offered” free work more times than I can count. All performers love exposure and love their craft, which h is why we decide to become Professionals. Using our passion for what we do and our need for recognition in order to become more successful against us is cheap and selfish, and all the more so when it is done by a wealthy company and/or brand. Kudos to you, Revolva, for standing up to The Man. I just never thought Oprah would turn out to be The Man.

  14. lois

    proud of you for writing this great letter…and agree 100 and 999 percent!!

  15. Fid

    My hat’s off to you, Revolva. Things will never change as long as the masses continue to hide behind such B.S. as “We must focus on the positive and move forward”, in order to not deal with blatant exploitation such as this. Thanks for what you do.

  16. Rob


    I haven’t seen you do your thing as of yet. I hope I get to someday and pay for your product! I’m a jazz musician that splits time between New York and Chicago. It has proven to be an extremely challenging way to make a living but so worthwhile. I can tell you feel the same.

    You wrote a really great letter and I am so happy that you made the decision you did. I hope it leads to better things for you and all artists who are trying to make a living through performance. So inspiring to read!

    Best regards,

  17. Kate

    The best, the best the best. So sick of Oprah and her live your best life. It is easy to live your best life when you have people to do everything for you including photo shopping every last cover of her magazine, while preaching to us all how to live your best life. Time to pack up you travelling gypsy show and go home. Good on your for writing this. I want to come to your “Live your best life show” Everyone could benefit from it. Let me know when you are in the Niagara Falls area.

  18. denise

    Oprah can’t even wear her shoes when she walks. Most of them get put on her feet after she is seated. A friend of mine went on her show and was starved in the green room for hours and given a bottled water. Why was he there? To tell his story about being raped and molested. Oprah is a snake in sheep’s clothing and she can she is “awake” all she likes. She probably believes it herself. Oh but she is asleep. So sound asleep and there will be no prince to wake the fake.

  19. RIAA Hack

    Good points by Revolva but also interesting comments by those who disagree. My question, Revolva , did you pay Beyonce her royaltiy for the song in your act?….and please don’t counter that “she can afford it.”

    • John Dough

      Why don’t you enroll in law school and sue somebody you “law” abiding tool.

      • Really?

        Come on John, it is a valid point. Even further is the point that maybe Beyonce wouldn’t want her song used. As an artist she has that right to say it. If you condemn the rights on one artist you condemn the rights of all artists. Both points (Revolva and this one) are valid points.

        FYI – I checked and the Beyonce SR is claiming and monetizing Revolva’s video so at least that part was done right. :)

  20. Anonymous

    You did the right thing and Oprah has done the wrong. When this goes viral, I don’t want to hear O say how it was her staff or a mistake …. whatever. It is your call Oprah and you own it!

  21. Terra Marshall

    Good for you girl. I am a salon owner/stylist and I can’t tell you how many times I have been asked to do things for exposure/ advertising. NO THANKS. Don’t listen to the haters. Oprah sucks more than I thought now. Thanks for clearing that up. If you’re ever in Asheville come see me at Beauty Parade on the west side and we’ll have a drink!!!

  22. ididitfirst

    there comes a point in time when its better to say no than to work for a crumb, in this case not even a crumb. may your future be brighter than your past. all the best to you.

  23. Ed

    “‘Well at least it’s exposure’, that’s what they say. But you can die of exposure in less than a day.”
    -Hillbilly Hellcats

  24. Brian Andres

    Well said! As a professional musician I appreciate (and share) your opinion greatly!

  25. Nanc

    Insulting and exploitative… She is assuming that just rubbing up against the supernova that is Oprah is worth anything sacrifice to achieve. Major fail… and props to her for calling it.

  26. Dave Kim

    Hi Revolva,

    My name is Dave Kim, I’m an electric violinist, guitarist and DJ that accepted the offer to perform at the Oprah’s “Life You Want” weekend for free. I went through all of the excitement you did, asked the same questions but had a different outcome as I accepted the opportunity. I say opportunity because I am extremely fortunate to be able to say that I am making it as a single father with two kids as a full time musician living in Sausalito. It’s not because I’m the best electric violinist, the best guitarist or even the best DJ but it’s because of how I have marketed myself. The questions I ask when I’m hit up for a gig is when, where and budget. If there is no budget, then I ask myself if there’s a marketing/networking opportunity. The positive social media engagement I received from the Oprah event alone was worth it’s weight in gold. I received two tickets ($1200 face value) for the event and attended the first evening and gave them to a friend and her daughter the second day as I was booked for a gig.

    Having this on my resume helps give me credibility and justifies the rates that I charge. In 2011, I was hit up to perform and present at a TEDx event in San Francisco ( I didn’t know what a TED event was at the time and after learning that people like Steve Jobs and Bill Gates have a TED talk, I quickly accepted the non paid opportunity. This event was on the same day as the Union Street Fair in which I had to cancel a paid gig to perform at a high profile industry party. Believe you me, it was difficult to cancel but I saw the potential of the TED event long term. Looking back, I have been able to increase my rate exponentially for corporate events because this is on my resume not to mention the life long connections and friendships I made because of it. This is also how the Oprah producers found me.

    Would I have liked to have been paid for the Oprah event? Hell yeah! But I will be getting paid, it just won’t be coming directly from Oprah. At the very least, I’m glad you wrote this article because now I know who you are and can help book you for future events I’m performing at.




    • Telecat

      Thanks for fucking over your fellow musicians, asshole. I hope you die.

    • John Dough

      More Uncle Toms extolling the virtues of the master’s way of doing business. But guess what Tool! There’s only so much room in the kitchen of the masters house.
      We need to take down the plantation and replace it with a system without masters. You know… so we can all eat!

    • ToolBag

      “It’s not because I’m the best electric violinist, the best guitarist or even the best DJ but blah blah blah blah”

      This is the point, Dave Kim…someone is always willing to work for free, and they’re generally not going to be the best at what they do. That screws over the industry as a whole. Lower standards of quality because it’s less expensive. This whole Oprah tour seems to be about valuing yourself and your profession. You’re really not doing either.

    • Amanda

      Just because it worked out for you doesn’t mean it worked out for everyone who has done a free gig. She did the math and couldn’t do it for nothing. I agree. I billionaire like Oprah could have paid all the local acts and not have made a dent in her wallet. She should have at least offered to get all of you to and from the performance, accommodations if you did live farther away or something. It takes guts to say how you feel to someone as, well people seem to think. powerful as Oprah.

    • Sales consultant


      Thanks for the insight. It highlights how requesting artists to appear free for exposure is a standard industry practice.

      Did you make any contacts from your appearance at ‘The Life You Want’ that resulted in paying gigs? I know this may be hard to gauge now because sometimes people will pick up a flyer or save your website info only to contact you later. Just want to know any benefits from this specific event at this point in time.


    • Anotherman

      Hi Dave,
      I think Revolva’s point was that the producers of the show can afford to pay. They should not try to be cheap and force people to come over just because it could be a good networking opportunity. They should be able to do all that and still afford to pay.

    • No more handouts to billionaires

      Congratulations, you are half the reason why this practice exists in the many industries it pollutes. Imagine how great it would have been if you got the exposure AND a paycheck! Now imagine all of the artists that absolutely cannot work for free, and cannot gamble their livelihood on the chance that they might get paid gigs, if they just do this one free gig. Stop giving handouts to billionaires! Stop screwing your own industry! You should be ashamed.

  27. Rusty Shackleford

    Please forgive my ignorance of your industry–I don’t think my abortive attempt at being a musician gives me enough perspective to comment from a place of perfect knowledge–but I do not think it is insane to occasionally accept non-paying gigs as an attempt at networking and being seen (I’ll avoid the dreaded and too-often deployed buzz-word “exposure”).

    Allow me to explain with an example from my own industry. I am an attorney with an independent practice, so I don’t get a set paycheck. Like you, I eat what I kill, and at some times the hunting is better or worse than at others. Still, I sit on several non-compensated boards and do a fair amount of pro bono work which, at first glance, is absolutely not in my financial interest. I have, however, chosen my activities carefully–nearly every one of them gives me an opportunity to meet, network with, or at least spend time in the same hallways with people who are in a position to advance my interests. If I’m honest, I genuinely do not care about a couple of the causes with which I am involved, but they give me an excellent opportunity which I cannot pass up.

    Does it sometimes feel a bit slimy? Sure. Do I feel like a sell-out every time I have to pretend some old stiff’s trophy wife is interesting at a gala event? Absolutely. Has it gained me a network and client base which would have been impossible otherwise? Without question.

    [As an aside, the added bonus is that it also allows me to give much more money to the causes I care about than I possibly could have otherwise. While I would like to pretend I’m such a valuable volunteer that my volunteering a Saturday is indispensable to a given organization, I think most candid organizations would prefer I work that Saturday instead and write them a check for the hours I billed that day.]

    Now, perhaps art is just different. I am willing to believe that performers do not make the same sorts of connections or receive the same benefits from networking that attorneys do. Or, perhaps certain segments of the art world do, whilst others do not. I simply don’t know enough to know. I just want to put it out there that, for a vast number of folks out there, working for free, whether in a charitable context or as an attempt to reach a wider audience, can have serious remunerative benefits.

    I would thank anyone for their rebuttal or accord based on their experiences in the world of artistic endeavor.

    • John Dough

      Rust, You seem like a “nice” enough person so I won’t be too bitter.
      You have absolutely no perspective let alone empathy enough to put your two cents in. (As you said yourself.)
      Pardon my language, but lawyers are the scum of the earth. And if not for other lawyers, your gracious albeit self serving (your words) pro-bono work wouldn’t even be necessary. (A vicious cycle, is’t it?)
      Sadly, it is my duty to inform you that you are clueless, therefore you are probably in the right profession.
      P.S. Climbing the ladder, jacking up billable hours so you can have time to “volunteer”, pretending like you have a thought that matters, are all the flip-side of this conversation. ithout people like you, the world would be a much better place.

    • Semoreclearly

      I believe if I’m reading Revolva’s letter in the spirit she delivered it, she inasmuch said she can’t afford it. There are times in every artist’s life when they are able to work for free for the exposure. There are times when they can’t. Her main point over all others is valid as the day is long ->they’re making $$$ hand over fist & asking others (who could very well be sucking wind, financially) to “work for free”.

      Now I understand my friends who work for big box retailers, daily encountering customers they loathe…..LOATHE I say, because they always want something for nothing. WHY? It’s a perfectly valid question, and Revolva’s response gets two hardworking, broke-ass thumbs up. Stop expecting something for free. Open your wallet, especially when you are MORE than able to.

    • Semoreclearly

      While I see the allure, I don’t understand why performers are asked to put in their time, effort & talent for nothing. Cheeky, especially coming from someone who probably gets paid well for being a producer.

      It’s always a push-me/pull-you ->the desire for exposure can certainly drive an artist (starving or not) to sell themselves short. I just don’t understand why people with buckets of cash won’t give up a bit of it so the rest of the entertainment world can eat & pay rent.

      Reminds me of those bastards in Congress who just cut the WIC budget & want to kick people off the welfare rolls. Each one of those bastards & bitches makes in excess of $170K/yr. WITH healthcare insurance & who knows how many other perks. Yet they would deny a woman & her children a modest monthly sum so they can simply eat.

      You heartless bastards -ALL of you. I don’t make a lot of money, but I spread it around. Know why? BECAUSE I’M CREATING & SPURRING ECONOMIES WHEN I DO THIS. What I am able to part with now -after the govt takes its fair share, you bastards- may help some other citizen pay rent, buy food, maybe go see a matinee.

  28. Posting for free!

    Is it established that Oprah herself knew local artists would be invited to perform for free? Does it change things if this was the decision of a manager working for her, one of a zillion details that probably didn’t come to her attention?

  29. Tanbiere

    For what it’s worth, I think the performer did the correct thing. I believe she would work for free for a charity event based on her level of professionalism, but she’s right in regards to the rudeness of the person who called to solicit her time for free in a tour that would be just another talk show with wealthy people offering pearls of wisdom on how they got wealthy and happy. If Oprah was truly the compassionate person she wants people to think she is, she wouldn’t expect anyone to work for free, for exposure or not. I never really had a thought about Oprah one way or another, although, she’s been known to lavish gifts on people who come to her shows and she encouraged many people to read with her book club, and both of those things seem pretty decent. I guess I never would have guessed she would charge that much for her tour. I’m disabled and could never afford the lowest price ticket much less the average ticket, but I don’t suppose the tour was meant for someone like me either. I find it hard to believe she couldn’t afford to drop a couple hundred dollars to the few artists they wanted at their venue. Don’t worry performer, it doesn’t reflect badly on you at all, and your open letter is fair because maybe Oprah didn’t realize it happened. If you don’t hear back you’ll know her thoughts on the matter.

  30. Michael E. Henderson

    Writers have the same problem, and bravo to you for standing up to them.

    Publishers pay little or no advances, and most small publishers expect you to pay the costs of publication, either right up front, or out of your “royalty.”

    Advertisers charge a bloody fortune, and online sellers encourage you to either give your book away, or to sell it for 99 cents.

    There is, perhaps, some benefit to working for free for charity, or for people who lack the funds, but to be asked by someone dripping with wealth to work for free goes beyond the pale.

    Michael E. Henderson

    • F. Scott Fizzwater

      “Publishers pay little or no advances…”

      Yes, unless you have a platform and a recognizable name.

      “…and most small publishers expect you to pay the costs of publication, either right up front, or out of your “royalty.”

      Absolutely not. Those you describe are not publishers; they are vanity presses. You’d be better off going to a POD or PTO outfit.

  31. Tom

    Well said Lisa! I’ll definitely check that book out. Sense like yours is few and far et week these days.

  32. Austin

    The really shocking thing to me about this is that we live in a society where there is such a thing as a professional hula hoop-er. While I completely understand why you wouldn’t want to perform without getting paid; I also completely understand why someone wouldn’t be willing to pay someone to hula hoop. Frankly, I think $0 accurately reflects the value you add to this event. But, then again, I’m probably not in your target audience.

    The image you posted that showed the net worth of Oprah, D. Choprah, E. Gilbert, and yourself is ridiculous. I feel like you were using it to suggest that somehow, you deserve as much as (or at least some amount that is in line with) those other individuals. The other 3 people up there are all cultural phenomenons, they have each affected the lives on millions of people. And while I feel that they’re all somewhat overpaid; that’s not for me to decide. That is for their audience to decide, and they have decided to support them. Maybe the reason your net worth is -$20,000 is because your audience doesn’t value what you do. After what you say is 12 years of spinning a hoop around yourself for a living, you have little to show for it. I’m sure hula-hooping makes you happy, but clearly it will never make you rich.

    • Buy a clue

      How much you value what Revolva does doesn’t matter, the fact is either Oprah or one of her producers valued Revolvas act. I mean I don’t think Kim Kardashian should get paid for whatever it is she does but I’m not going to hate her for making herself filthy rich

      • Capitalism


        If you want to effect change in the the valuing of local artists, don’t write an open letter to Oprah for paying you at market value. Instead, write a letter to your fellow local artists who are willing to work for free. They’re the ones setting the market value for your work.

        It’s not Oprah (or her producer)’s fault that there are artists out there willing to work for nothing but exposure.

  33. Brian W

    Good on you for standing up to terrible, systemic booking practices.

    The only other way that I would have respected as much would be to accept – and perform with a huge sign with huge lettering to the effect of: “Oprah offered me ‘exposure’ to lend my skills, time, and equipment to her $999 ticketed tour stop… but not a smidgen of pay. A little help with gas, please?” Then a picture of her with her net worth and you with yours.

  34. donnae

    You can’t see me but I am doing multiple bows towards the sun that is you! Nailed it girlfriend, thank you from all the artists that are asked to donate, perform free or any other bull shit “freebie” that “they” come up with.
    I am a huge fan of Oprah’s but the house of Winfrey is getting shaky.

  35. Austin

    you hula hoop for a living? sounds like -$20,000 for your net worth is about right. I’m sure you enjoy what you do, but that doesn’t mean you’re entitled to get paid for it. Kudos to you if you’ve actually been able to scrape by doing only this for a living for 12 years, but I suspect the reason that It hasn’t made you rich or paid you well is because it’s not something people generally willing to pay to see. Oprah couldn’t charge a single penny more per ticket because you were there, so why should she pay you? You’re not making them any money, and they have to pay for the stage that you do your little hoop tricks on. The ease at which you were replaced demonstrates your lack of value in this situation; all they needed was a dancing monkey out front to give people something to do while waiting to see the actual entertainers inside. It’s like the music they play while you’re on hold with a business. They generally don’t use music they have to pay for because it doesn’t matter what the song is. I agree with your decision not to perform here. I wouldn’t perform in this situation for free either. But on the other side of the coin, I wouldn’t pay you to perform if I was in the producer’s shoes. Despite how little i think of your profession, the fact is this is just not something that you can add value to. Perhaps there are some venues where you could add value and get paid to perform. I can’t imagine what those venues are, but I’m sure after 12 years, you have found some.

    • Semoreclearly

      Aren’t you a bundle of joy to behold. You actually have the unmitigated gall to lambaste Revolva based on your personal opinion of the thing she does that gives her life meaning. In all my years, I don’t believe I’ve ever read anything so self-centered & mean-spirited. You heartless bastard. Someone should slap you, but I assume that’s one of the reasons why you ARE such a heartless bastard.

  36. Holly

    Bravo!! I would love to pay you to perform at the launch of my first fragrance. I’m a startup on a budget but I would be honored to pay you for your time and talent. LIMI xx

  37. Oh so

    What a clever, witty response. Looking through at your other equally thoughtful comments shows your bitter contempt for anyone whose opinion differs from yours. Maybe time to re-evaluate your approach? Just an idea.

  38. Gerry

    Well done. Now Oprah has a big ego. That is not necessarily bad. But taking advantage of others is UGLY. You can guess my opinion of Oprah.

    • Jake Night

      How is that taking advantage of someone? I’m bringing you on for a service and telling you up front you’re not being paid. I told you up front, lol. It’s your fault for providing the service.

  39. Sebmund

    I sincerely hope that Oprah doesn’t know that she is ripping off people who live and work insanely hard to follow their dreams and passions to bring joy, depth, and breadth to the lives of people too afraid to follow their own.

    If she does know, then she’s just another bullshit artist who has lost her way and forgotten where she came from and the people who are still there, trying to climb out like she did.

  40. Jon Adamich

    I’m a composer for a living. The one most offensive thing is when people contact me for a business call about doing a project for free.

    For free? I’m sure you paid the actors and DP, the boom mic guy, set designer, etc. But the guy who writes music, no need. The “exposure” is more than I could ask for. 99.99% this amounts to nothing, ever. It brings down the industry and muddys the market. If artists keep taking these gigs, it will become the norm to do things for free.

    It just sickens me reading this article. Pay people for their work.

  41. artist who's never been paid

    I’ve never been paid for original art except by a close friend who commissioned one piece.

    Tattoo’s I guess are a gift, and sometimes even after “I’ll pay you” comes out of people’s mouths, I’m too passive to say “Hey, remember when you said you’d pay me?”

    It sucks. “Exposure” sucks. Seeing people walking around with my art on their body, which I thoughtfully designed FOR THEM, in which my own creativity was put through – I get no money, while the actual tattoo artist, who basically traces my design gets enough money to buy a month’s supply of groceries… F***.

  42. John Doh!

    John Dough –

    A little introspection might be of use to diffuse your unmitigated bitterness. May you one day find peace and the necessary life-tools to learn that your opinion might possibly not be shared by everyone on the planet (brilliant as it is.) And that there could be a point of view differing from yours which contains some modicum of validity. Until then will expect some marvelously pithy put-down as retort..

  43. David

    It sickens me how many times I see performers and other artists expected to take ‘exposure’ in return for their work.

    Here’s a rule: If you wouldn’t pay your own money out of pocket to go do something for another person for ‘exposure’, don’t expect them to do that for you.

  44. zeruch


    As someone who makes a living doing one thing he loves (tech) and moonlights very actively with another (painter/illustrator) I continue to be baffled when people who have enough largesse to pay nominal compensation for very specific, specialized skills, don’t because of a strange perception that most would be happy to be ‘recognized’ above having rent and food covered.

    I am actually comparatively cheap compared to a lot of my peers (because I dont really have the need as my primary income is alright) and I still get the same nonsense.

    The only exceptions I make are on licensing (where someone wants to have a non-exclusive right to use an image I’ve done; no additional effort required) which is what I’ve typically done with small, local bands, or similar situations. That’s a case where the margins can be smaller because its effectively residual income off of initial effort. But that’s it…

    I haven’t had a real commission in over a year because my rates (which are likely mid to lower end of market) freak nouvaeu-riche people out apparently. When Google and Apple millionaires lowball you, it says something about the human condition that isn’t very inspiring.

  45. GoodDiscussion

    It makes no sense to me why such a successful show would be unwilling to pay local performers when it seems fairly clear they could afford to. The fact that this show is focused on enhancing personal growth and success brews a disgusting irony. I’m glad Revolva had the courage to say no to such a ridiculous request. If only the other “performers” could have mustered that same courage.

  46. Mike

    Ok, so I can’t help but noticing, you were offered a free ticket. Couldn’t you have sold it for, say $599, and consider yourself well-paid for the gig? Or is the ad space you’re selling on your blog worth more than that maybe?

  47. DogWhopperReturns

    From all the angry replies its clear to me that most people do not understand Business 101.
    You have no value until you show you have value.
    If you can get this audience somewhere else, prove it. Then we can negotiate. Until you can prove that, there is no negotiation.
    This is how business is done. Prove your worth and earn respect and ability to negotiate.
    Will your presence bring in a new audience and promo to the event? Meaning, are you Gaga, Beyonce, or Jay Z?
    No? You perform locally and about 200 people follow you? Then no, we are not paying you as you will be performing in front of a much bigger audience at our event and you will gain followers from us.
    I mean, honestly, you are lucky you are not being charged to play. It costs time, money and hard work to cultivate a following and you want them to pay you for access to theirs?
    That is not how life works on any level. Shame on OP and for most posts in this thread for reacting emotionally instead of logically to this.

  48. belle d'ancre

    So True and well written. Thanks revolva for sharing and sspeaking up for all of us, artists that are always asked to perform for free!

  49. Digwood`

    If Oprah is contacting you, I’d say you have enough exposure.

    Expecting payment is justified.

    Good work.

    I sound like a robot.


  50. Captain Jerry

    First off, your response to Oprah’s low-ball was perfect and lovely. But secondly and most importantly, I had never before heard of you before a few minutes ago and now I am working on tomorrow’s blog centered around you. Thirdly, the hula hoop video was astounding. Seriously.

  51. dzw

    I am sorry, but I wouldn’t have paid for this. This was not a main act, but a side show. Most likely she could have asked to sell merch for those who saw it. Well, she is a local act, and probably won’t ever be more than that, which is fine. She will never know of the opportunities that could have come from doing it. Just as she is using who Oprah is against her, she forgets that could have gone on a one-sheet and opened doors and maybe commanded higher fees. You call it Worth. I call it shortsighted. Don’t hold your breath waiting for another call.

  52. Max Powers

    Folks ain’t dishing out $999 to watch some lady hula-hoop. Chances are this “performer” is easily replaceable in the format of the Oprah show and thus has little to no value in the context of the show. I would argue this lady has a poor understanding of market forces in this story but then again she has chosen professional “hula-hooper” as a profession.

  53. Sasha

    Love your fire! Sure burned through the mask! I salute your courage to be true to yourself and your gift. It’s refreshing to see someone risk living the life they are given. Thanks for speaking up for what needs to be said! ~Sasha

  54. ChristalBlu

    As an artisan I whole heartedly agree that Opra should have paid you. Honestly it’s shameful for her not to do it. She should have paid all of her people period, because they could afford it and because it’s the right thing to do. There is that misguided idea that it would give you exposure. All working for free does, is promote and help the other person, because when someone goes to Opra and ask about her performers, the producers say we got it free. That person then expects the same deal Opra got. Bottom line is that she wouldn’t do it for free neither should you.

  55. Gentry

    Brilliantly put. Oprah and her tour did teach you a lesson, and you obviously learned it well. You don’t work for free. Brava!

  56. Max.

    At a pay rate of, say, $500/hr this 4 minute “performance” would have netted this “artist” a little less than $35.
    Gas money and a free ticket to the event (apprx value $300) seems like fair payment. Incredibly fair. Performers and artists who make-it work and work and work at their craft. One video cobbled together from different performances of one un-original routine to another performers song hardly counts as effort. So you like to use the hula-hoop. I got it. Now go work your ass off until you can find a way to get paid to hula-hoop. Hula that f@ckin hoop like no one has ever hula’d it before. Hula at the park. Hula on the corner. Hula on open mic night. Hula to original songs that you wrote. Beyoncé didn’t just wake up famous. Oprah didn’t just wake up rich. They worked. And worked. And worked. You should study their methods their motivations their habits. Learn the obstacles they had to overcome. Use them as an inspiration to overcome your obstacles. (The main one being no one is much interested in the hula hoop. Make people interested in the hula-hoop!). Trash talking Oprah is childish, at best.

  57. Jake Night

    Why do people think they are special? Wasn’t San Jose the last stop on the tour? You act like YOU SHOULD BE paid when other people before you weren’t.

    I don’t work for the tour nor have I. But, I’ve been on the otherside and emails like this piss me off. You aren’t SPECIAL. You aren’t the only one. You should be grateful you’re even getting an email. Anyone who books clients for events like this knows to have a list of like 10-20 people for a such a gig. Just say no. They’ll move on to the next one. But, know this, the one thing you don’t want…is Oprah or the people who ran that tour spreading that email around and showing how arrogant you are.

    Just walk away and say no. Jeez.

  58. Jake Night

    Did people even ask what the budget was for this? Just b/c she’s worth billions doesn’t mean she can afford to pay everybody. Did you see the setup for that tour? You yourself did research on the networth of the people she invited on the tour. This ain’t their tour. They have their hands out too. Crew as well. Cameras. Travel for everyone. All the while running a television network. Maybe they just didn’t have the money for it or maybe they thought someone local would want the exposure and opportunity to network. You really sound ungrateful. She’s been around for over 25+ years in the game. Why do you think you’re so special?

    • Brad

      You…are exactly whats wrong with this planet you dumb fuckin hick…use your brain and see the hypocrisy of this whole story…most beloved billionaire doesnt share shit and feeds off the needy……

    • aquaboi77

      As she stated, they contacted her, and performing is her profession. She should be paid. She wasn’t asked to tell her life story on a talk show (which would give her much more exposure than being on some side stage at one event). The reason why stars would do interviews for her is that the kind of exposure an internationally syndicated talk show is invaluable. This is not the same thing.

  59. Jake Night

    News flash – in 25+ years in the game. She never paid any of her guests to be on the show. You’re not special. Get over yourself.

    • ToscasKiss

      Apples and oranges, baby. Oprah’s organization was not inviting Revolva to come be on her TV show.

  60. jeffrey

    Ha! Nothing but respect for your LOUD AND CLEAR honesty, clarity, self-respect, self-integrity, and your righteously fiery bad-ass intellectual weaponry by which to express yourself and the life you thereby henceforth choose. In my book, integrity and exacting love-truth-alignment are the keys to heavenly passage. I don’t think Oprah has been handing out any free passes to heaven, either, so you played your cards well. It’s only a matter of time before a person who deals with such astronomical monetary numbers as Oprah goes off the deep end, as there results such a scary removal from basic life values.

  61. Al K

    Fuck the billionaires, the chick has talent and a shitload of courage and self esteem. What that really worth !

  62. Francis B

    You are earning a spot on the stage that matters most: equity in the search for art, what comes around goes around, as you revolva so you evolva! (your writing might be mistaken for brilliant…volunteered and earned!) Stay amusin’ bruiser!

  63. Vince

    Good for you. I’ve been in the entertainment industry for about 25 years now and it’s so insulting when I see these shows that make hand over fist, but do not pay their performers. What worse is the performers that agree to work for “exposure”. Good for you for standing your ground.

  64. hererd

    Wow. Pretty sure the reason they didnt want to pay you is that your act is not worth anything. The video you posted is terrible and does not showcase talent that is worth anything. This is the rant of someone that has been told way too many times that they are special and perfect and when a person with an actual buisiness in the real world tells you the truth you throw a fit.

  65. Romar

    and yet Oprah has given everyone in her studio audience a car… more than once….

  66. sid montmorency

    Revolva. I’m going to send you $10 for nonperformance. I hope that’s okay.

  67. Jeff

    This is the new world we live in. As a writer, my work has been devalued by the sweep of bloggers who can’t discern between professional writing and well, you know. Perhaps the reason these people have so much money is becasue they don’t part with it. It’s over people. Say goodbye to Joseph Conrad and stay tuned to the Kardashians.

  68. M

    Tony Robbins events are handled the same way. 1400 people paying anything from 600 to 2000/event and a good number of the “Staff” are volunteers. They pay for their own travel and hotel and receive no compensation.

    On the one hand I can’t believe Tony doesn’t pay these people after all the money he is making. And, on the other hand I’m baffled that people volunteer year after year and event after event just for the value of seeing it and because they believe in Tony.

    That said, I’ve been to one of the events myself and I’m almost embarrassed to admit that I would consider being one of those people – it’s just that amazing and getting a free ticket for my time would be worth it.

    So again, while I think these people should share the wealth with the 99% I also can appreciate the fact that they have created something (be in product or exposure) that provides enough value that (some) people feel is worth giving their time for.

  69. crystal

    I think this is an awesome letter! As a seamstress, too many times I get asked, by people with incomes that make me jealous, to sew for them for less than the cost of materials. Their reasoning is that a name brand dress costs $$$$, so why should they pay a no name person $$$ to make a dress. I get so tired of those with money trying to take advantage of those with out. Good for you for standing up for yourself! All of us who are paying bills with our skills need to start a revolution and stand up to these people trying to devalue all the hard work that we have put into perfecting our skills!

  70. Brad

    What a great read. Oprah Winfrey is the most overrated ,overstated ,unbearable,racist hypocrite that ever walked this planet.Sure she donates millions…..but I’m sure its her tax offset that makes this easy for her. Im also sure that her public profile of this caring loving free spirit was also a reason to ‘give back to the community’. Just because that pig can make a heartwarming speech doesn’t mean she is not the vile grub that most billionaires are, she just doesn’t say ‘fuck’.
    I wait with baited breath to see if there is any such reply, but I do wonder how often this is how she rolls. Impress us Oprah, donate 90% of your money now, come out as a lesbian, and stop pretending to be black…vile

  71. David Wright

    Well. Who read all that? The American dream is really working!

  72. alissa r

    once upon a time i was one of the elves on her “favorite things” show that handed out thousands of dollars of merchandise to screaming people grabbing at us. We were paid $11/hour and told that if we were caught backstage drinking WATER or eating anything (even our own food) we would be sent home immediately. We didn’t even get to eat any leftover bonbons that guests left behind as trash. So basically we got to promote consumerism for $30 and get an on-camera no-water workout. Worst gig I ever did.

  73. Molly

    Despite her appearance as a kind and generous person, Oprah and her media machine is kind of known for screwing over people. Take the ‘everybody gets a new car or other expensive gift’ gimmick from her shows as a prime example. Her PR people keep her image nice and clean, but really she’s the same kind of con-artist history over flows with. Good for you not to stand by and take the BS.

  74. Cindy

    Well said… and Oprah preaches about valuing yourself and asking for what you want. YOU deserve the best and I wish you the best. With your moxie, I know you’ll get it. YOU go girl!

  75. Tyler

    Deepak Choprah – huge net worth, yes. ALL because he did Oprah for free.

    I challenge your logic.

    • Chad

      You are a fool if you believe in this fairy tale. Chopra is a hack feeding off the deluded. He is a charlatan who takes advantage of the vulnerable. They are disgusting.

  76. aquaboi77

    I worked for a costume designer in Los Angeles for years. She had the opportunity to have some of her designs featured on some very big shows like American Idol and So You Think You Can Dance. We used it as bragging rights in all of our promotional material, but in the end it wasn’t worth all the aggravation we went through with the shows producers. They were rude, demanding, usually paid us nothing, ruined almost everything they “borrowed”, rarely returned anything, and in the end it was our hard work in other areas that brought success to the company, not the “magical” exposure from some of the biggest shows on television. I have no doubt that a celebrity wearing your garment can bring overnight success for some, but hard work, perseverance and a quality product seem to be a surer bet for success to me than some exposure. Helping start that company, we learned over and over the importance of valuing our time, energy and talents.

  77. Joelle

    First of all, Oprahs name would have been good for your resume’. Publicly shaming Oprah is definitely not good for your resume. Second, you could have sold the ticket you earned for somewhere between $99 and $999 on Craigslist. That certainly would have helped with rent.

  78. Judy B.

    You are bang on girl! WTF is perform for free? That is insulting to the world of artists and demeaning. I certainly would want to see the show, but even at $99(and I’m not homeless!), it would cut into my limited fixed income(definitely not living my real life!).

    I hope more local artists take a stand to determine their own worth.

  79. Bill

    i would have offered to perform for two tickets and then re-sold them. You would have made more money flipping the tickets than you would have accepted as payment anyway so it’s win-win.

  80. George

    I once met Oprah briefly on a TV show she produced, and the word ‘met’ is used loosely here. I remember the big news that she was going to show up. Everyone was excited to hear that she was coming to our small town, to help us in our endeavors. When she finally got out of her car with her entourage of people, we all stood up cheering. It was a small group of people, small enough to where she could of met each and every one of us, but she walked on by as if she was the queen of England and we were her peasants. There is nothing different between her and I besides her net worth. The people with money who take their time to stand outside to shake everyone’s hand has my respect, because those fans are the ones who stand out in the elements for hours to just catch a glimpse of people who are worth millions and are in the public eye, but what makes it worth it are the ones who actually take the time to meet their fans and thank them for the wealth they’ve achieved. It’s because of the general public that they have gained such wealth, they seem to forget that.

  81. Chad

    Oprah is out of touch with 99.9% of humanity. She sickens me and I never bought her garbage philosophy. Good for you for rejecting this nonsense. This is disgusting. Chopra is a hack and a charlatan as well.

  82. sinseattle

    Wow, tickets in Seattle were much less… I paid $29.95 for my Premium Plus seat.

  83. John T

    The whole “exposure” thing really gets under my skin, especially for people who can afford the meager fee. On behalf of creative people everywhere, thanks for holding the line, Revolva.

  84. Jo McCarthy

    Well done. Artists need to be paid the going rate for all events regardless who runs/appears in them.

  85. Jim

    The exposure thing may annoy some and it is understandable to desire to be paid for your skills but the reality of the situation is that where one person is unwilling to see it as a free advertisement of their brand, thousands of others are probably lining up for it. If it were me, I’d do it for the experience and the chance to be able to brand my skill as “as seen on T.V.” or what have you. I understand her point, I just think that there’s a serious value in what was being offered that wasn’t being considered. Yes the may have been paying going rates for lighting, sound and other technicians but those people do not necessarily benefit by being there (other than their salary and perhaps the playbill). There is also the cost of putting on the show (adverts, production all the people behind the scenes), which are huge cost outlays, and while I’m sure they are more than recovered are something the performers are getting the benefit of without having to contribute to.

    I have no doubt that people would say that other performers in other shows are paid for their work and while that may be true, look at the size of the stage that is being offered and ask what is the value gained by just performing there as compared to (likely) numerous smaller gigs required to provide the same recognition. Taking the unpaid gig may have saved this lady years of building her brand and countless hours on smaller stages…ever wonder why smart start-ups go on t.v. shows like Shark Tank and Dragon’s Den, it’s necessarily the chance at an investor but the brand recognition that those appearances bring and the benefits of time saving in trying to build a business.

    If you’re trying to build something then you should take every opportunity to do so. It doesn’t really matter what the show is making as long as there is value in it for you equal or greater to the amount of effort put into it. No one owes us anything, we need to provide for ourselves and do our own cost/benefit analysis in order to be successful.

    Just my two cents…

  86. DUane

    This is another example of exploitation of something you love. I can relate somewhat to this as I used to classify myself as an illustrator. For so many years I did work on spec, for what would be considered sweat shop rates or at my own expense. I cannot even say for free as there was always supplies involved. This includes unpaid artwork for an un-named multi-billion dollar corporation with hopes of making it big. It seemed doing work for less than minimum wage became the norm. I have pretty much given up on art and actually have discouraged it as a viable profession. Shame on you Oprah Winfrey, you have jumped up on your pedestal and spoken out on economic exploitation. The hypocrisy of you brand has been exposed.

  87. Cindi

    Creative people, artists, writers, dancers, and musicians, are always expected to work for nothing, but exposure. Why is that???

  88. Youlanda Burnett

    I can’t believe they asked you to do it for free. To think I was going to contact them about performing one of my songs “On My Way” I’m an Indie artist which means I pay for everything. Some of us just want a hand up — To be honest I’m really disappointed, this is someone who I’ve admired for years. Never in a million years would I have thought her production company was like that. There are other opportunities out there, we have work harder to find them, and not give up!

  89. Amy

    In my opinion that gal looked a gift horse in the mouth. She missed the blessing in this opportunity.. It’s never a waste to line yourself up with success. Being asked to be there was a huge compliment, the exposure would have given her more advertisement than she could dream of… Just think of the phone calls she would be getting for future bookings. I was there, I saw the people in O town, it was great fun. The entire weekend was nothing but positive, motivating and uplifting. I would have gladly taken that opportunity to be on the same stage as Gayle, and receive a free ticket for this weekend expierience . After reading the blog post (of Fire Entertainer) it was evident to me that she would have benefited greatly from attending The Life You Want Weekend. We are all living a dream, whether we know it or not, someone out there is dreaming of the life we have, right now.
    Oprah does so much good in this world, to bad so much focus is on this kind of thing. Oprah played no part in her 20k negative.
    What we think we become.
    All the best to both of them.

    • Pansy

      Why is it that people think artists will always work for free for exposure. BS! Artists of any kind, have spent years crafting their art, spending money on lesson, supplies, and hours practicing. Artists have bills just like anyone else. For the Oprah tour to want free talent is nothing short of insulting. I want YOU stand on your head and twirl a hoop on your foot. Betcha can’t.

  90. OwlLee

    People with status and money really need to stop expecting people to work for free! This goes beyond just celebrity billionaires! There are way too many companies and businesses who think it’s okay to offer unpaid internships, knowing that anyone who is looking for an internship is most likely going to be making payments to Sallie Mae from the grave and can barely afford Ramen for dinner!. I get that everyone has to get their foot in the door and pay their dues but everyone has bills to pay and it’s repulsive that anyone thinks it’s acceptable to hire someone when all they get out of it is “exposure” or something to put on a resume. Revolva, I think that was a very well-written letter and I give you a ton of credit for turning down the gig, which was going to cost you money! Just remember, “money can’t buy class.”

  91. Sommner

    “We won’t pay you anything.”
    You said “no.”

    In between those lines, you complain how they are making so much money and that they SHOULD pay you. They don’t pay certain performers because there are others that are filling the void (ie – demand). So if you want to make money, provide a service or skill that people or companies are willing to pay for.
    Pretty simple really.

    • Reason

      Ah, a confused supply-sider. Wonderful. So relevant too…

      Why did they ask her to perform if there’s no demand, hmmm?

  92. Jane

    As a member of band I have to say thank you for saying no and for sticking your neck out to do so. Musicians, who play for free, make it impossible for the rest of us to even book a meager paying gig. As long as someone will do it for free, the rest of us have to have day jobs. We’ve said no to events that charge admission and others that charge vendors for their tables or booths, because yes they’re making money. The artist(s) is a people draw, aka more money, and dang it… if you’re drawing people, you need to get paid. Period.
    I’ll admit to NOT being an Oprah fan. Megalomania isn’t something I find attractive. Seriously… I don’t know anyone else who publishes a magazine with their own picture on the cover of every single issue. Sorry, Oprah. I call ’em as I see ’em. Stick to your guns, Revolva – you did right.

  93. Nancy Nash

    BRAVO REvolva… I love your art and you should be a special guest on Oprah… on the main stage… all
    she can revolve is her mouth… and that has made her a lot of money… there is a saying… “you can fool some of the people some of the time however, NOT all of the time” …. it takes great courage to do what you did
    and with such benevolence … be careful because people with absolute power are corrupted absolutely and
    should be considered dangerous. Only the Lord knows which heaven the angel Oprah gets to attend. Hopefully not the one I am going to. And I sure hope your in the heaven I am… and I also hope you get a real angel to come and assist you to get the car fixed and the rent paid … you are beautiful …

  94. BeckyD

    You are awesome. You have more talent in your pinky than the Big O could ever have. So she acts a little and talks. I can do that. Heck, I can even sing, play piano, write songs, cook, sew, do carpentry work, etc. Who is to say why some people end up famous? I will never be able to figure out the appeal some people think Big O or Rosie O have. Some people have been rich for so long they forget what it is like to struggle, no matter how many tears they get in their eyes for the sake of the appealing to the public to make more money. Don’t feel bad about Big O not realizing your true worth because you have something she does not–true talent. Blessings and peace to you from a fellow artist!

  95. Maui Love

    I think you are pretty awesome! You deserve to be compensated for your work! Well done!
    Oprah is also screwing the people of Maui County, by allowing Monsanto to advertise in her O Magazine. Oprah owns a good bit of land here and an organic farm. Monsanto is suing us for passing a citizens initiative (first one EVER) that calls for a pause in GMO activity until environmental and public health impact studies can be done. Monsanto spent over $10 million to stop it. When the people won the election, Monsanto sued. Now we are waiting for court dates.
    Very disappointed…

  96. donald

    So you’re complaining that the cost of the ticket is outrageous, but when offered a free one (that you could sell for $999) you refuse it? Makes sense. I guess it’s easier to leach off of Oprah’s name for some free internet exposure and YouTube clicks than to actually do the performance.

  97. Lisa

    I have to say congrats to you! First of all Oprah is not the most beloved celebrity. As a matter of fact this kind of crap is what gives her brand a bad name. Thank you for sharing. For those of us with integrity that work in the marketing world, we would never ask someone to perform for free in this situation. Good job for standing your ground. Only take a deal that’s win-win.

  98. Low Brow

    I’m absolutely in favor of artists standing up for getting paid to do their art, and I’m amazed at the quantity of non-artists who think that insisting on getting paid for what one does is somehow contrary to the way the world should spin. If there were a little less bowing to that attitude in the arts community, you might all get paid what you’re worth.

    In reference to the lawyer above (whose profession I don’t despise; heck, I’m even friends with some); there’s a world of difference in doing pro bono work and the situation being presented here. In a pro bono situation, you’ve generally got a client who simply cannot pay and in all likelihood a cause you believe needs supporting, you are choosing to forgo the pay, and you are in a financial position to be able to do so. In the case at hand, you’ve got a client who can manifestly afford to pay, who is assuming that pay is not in the question, and a professional who is not in a financial position to forgo pay; we can leave aside the question of the cause’s place in Revolva’s heart in the face of those other differences.

    There was also in an earlier comment a suggestion that the cost of this tour was such that even Oprah’s resources couldn’t support it, EVEN with the enormously expensive tickets, and that it’s ridiculous to consider that she might dip into her own resources to pay some more-or-less talented not-already-famous artists to class up the parking lot. Allowing for the possibility that there is some cost per show that the tickers wouldn’t cover, one would think that the yearly income of her invested billions would be seeing her into sufficient comfort to support the cause she’s putting her name to (a pro bono effort, if you will). Also, she could frame these costs as business expenses, reducing whatever tax burden she may be laboring under, and giving some gilding of truth to the notion that the rich deserve the tax treatment they get because they’re “creators of jobs”.

  99. Anonymous

    Just shows what a HYPOCRITE Oprah really is. She is a business woman. She knows how the show is being run. She feels anyone should be HONORED to work for her, a billionaire, for free. I bet she was on the side of fair $15/ for McDonald’s workers. However, she did not want to pay an act to perform for her show. She is the epitome of greed and preaches platitudes of “living your life” and being a good person. Makes me sick.

  100. Tylastoybox

    I’m an artist and I’m right their with you. Always be willing to walk away from the table. Especially if their isn’t shit on it! You go guurllllll!

  101. Anonymous

    if you don’t stand for something….you’ll fall for anything!

  102. Cornelia Selover

    Hi Revolva,
    Brilliant letter, beautifully put with logic, clarity but without bitterness. I feel your open heart. When you are touring Asutralia and being paid the $1,000 a day you deserve (or whatever I just made that up), come and stay at my place in Baddaginnie. I support the ‘Couch surfing, ask for help thing.’
    Check out my work on Cornelia Selover Art (FB) and you’ll know if you’d feel comfy here.
    Your act is great and Oprah missed out. Too bad for her.

  103. Linda

    It would be one thing to volunteer for a non-profit but for a HIGH fee event…..WRONG….on all levels. Shame on you Oprah if you knew. Shame on you Oprah for not knowing what is going on in your company if you did not. Either way I am deeply disappointed. Live the life you want indeed!!

  104. Nicole

    Good for you for holding your ground and making this story public. I think the tour and Oprah should be ashamed.

  105. Nicole

    Good for you for holding your ground and making this story public. I think the tour and Oprah should be ashamed.

  106. Anonymous

    Baby, you’ve got it ALL goin’ on~~ Oprah WInfrey is hopefully VERY ASHAMED!!
    I must say, you have an incredible voice, and could write a splendid book!
    I hope you get some outrageously high paying gigs now…and I’ll share this to help out!

  107. TheAngel

    People are waking up around the world to what is really happening in real time. This is the same way I feel when someone calls me about building a website for free, REALLY?

  108. jim farrell

    MS. R,

    I am an actor playwright poet documentary film maker singer songwriter musician recording artist etc. All of my work has the “stamp” of top notch artistic achievement. I still have a day job. Artists and their art are expected to flourish solely on the spectacular energy that springs from the work we create.

    Thanks for your inspiring story. Art is the signature of the species. Without it, all souls would starve. Pay us what we are worth / so we can eat too.

    love to all,

  109. Nathan Wishbone

    Well done girl. My answer has always been “if I needed exposure, how did you find me?” I live in England (UK). I get calls to perform from people who earn £250000 a year asking if I can perform for free. At times people think Art just happens. That because we smile while we perform, that must mean we have no bills to pay. One event even suggested that we pay a reduced rate entry fee for the privilege of performing for some “influential” people. Please guess what my answer was…….(

  110. Mickey

    Rich people often got rich by exploiting & shortchanging others. Charity is the only reason to ask anyone to work for free.

    I bucked the trend of adoring Oprah many years ago. Stephen Lewis, the UN envoy in the fight against AIDS, asked Oprah to be the spokesperson for AIDS orphans in Africa. Oprah accepted and went on a trip to South Africa. She did a press conference exhorting people to donate to the cause. When a local journalist asked her what she would be contributing, she got all offended and rude and said her gift was to be the spokesperson, that’s it. She’s asking struggling middle class families to make a donation that she as a billionaire is not willing to make.

    Then she decided to cut her trip short because she was tired, leaving Stephen Lewis alone in a village decimated by AIDS that had been eagerly planning and preparing and waiting for Oprah to grace them with her presence, and he had to crush them by explaining to people who were dying of AIDS that she wasn’t coming because she was tired.

    Then Oprah quickly lost interest in the AIDS orphans of Africa and that was the end of it.

  111. Bubba

    i’ve had my own run in with “The Oprah” when she still had her TV show. I had responded to be part of a focus group for a series of shows. I was allowed to bring someone with me, so I brought a friend with me who is disabled. During the taping of the first show I noticed she kept looking up in my direction. Spur of the moment decision to immediately tape a second show following some audience Q&A at the end of the first show. So Oprah goes to change & the audience is shuffled a bit to make it look like a fresh crowd. My friend & I were pushed out all the way to the outside end away from the rest of the core focus group. Between shows they even signed up more people to be included in the group for future shows. I double checked to make sure I was still on the list. But gee, somehow I never got any further calls or mail informing me of the future show dates or anything. I guess a guy with a face made for radio & his disabled friend aren’t worth the time & effort for “The Oprah.” I later sent a letter along with a check made out to her for $12 (they paid for parking the day I was there). It had been opened, but they stuffed it all along with the original envelope into another envelope & returned it to me with no letter of there own or remarks of any kind. I still have it in a desk drawer. Throughout history, the high & mighty (at least in their own minds) have always been to good to truly mingle with the masses. They’ll throw us an occasional bone to give the appearance of connecting with us. However it’s all a very carefully choreographed act. With very few exceptions, most wealthy public figures are like that-actors, politicians, media moguls, etc. They’ll never truly know-nor will they ever care to-the kind of life & struggles us “commoners” face on a daily basis. I have no tolerance or sympathy for them whatsoever when they don’t get their way or something goes awry for them. Thank you Revolva for sharing your experience with us.

  112. Carlisle

    I’m a singer and keyboard player, and many times I’ve had to play for free or be asked to play for free. I generally have stopped playing for free. I think the problem is that being a performer or a musician is not a licensed profession per se. There is no standard created to determine what makes someone a professional musician. Right now, the standard is, who can get the most attention drawn to them — either through being terrifyingly good, incredibly attractive, or incredibly silly and counter cultural. There is nothing you have to graduate from per se. So there is no standardized or graduated format for what we should be expected to receive in terms of compensation. We are left with the reality that we only can demand what we can leverage. Unfortunately, in your case, you had no leverage with Oprah, and they felt they could leverage exposure on you. An angle that you could have taken is to get them to agree to let you advertise for Oprah/Harpo at your events or something like that. If she thinks that you can make her money by giving her additional exposure, then they would be more likely to invest in you. I think that is what we have to start doing as artist. We have to start branding ourselves more, even at the local level — find local business that want to advertise. Mom and Pop shops who themselves are struggling for exposure. If we can come up with a model of how we can generate more exposure and business to other business, I think that is how we can start to be taken more seriously and demand more money. If you are very good, you can get people to advertise through you. Even major label artist, if it wasn’t for advertising dollars, if you break down all of the people they have to pay after they sell records and do performances, often times, they only get significant money from their endorsements. We have to start finding ways to get ourselves endorsed, even at a local level. If anything, it can cover the price of equipment and travel.

  113. Lea

    I got two free tickets for the DC event via Toyota. I was so stunned by the cross marketing with Toyota and other vendors — it was Orwellian. We all got battery operated wristbands that talked to the vendors’ scanners about your personal info . And this wristband also talked to your IPhone and when you took a picture of yourself with Oprah’s wall mural, that photo somehow got sent to all of your social media sites to provide the tour with more free PR. And even people with the $600 tickets were trying to move up to the next tier tickets that allowed you to enter the special rooms where you could get a chair massage or meet Gayle. While Oprah’s well-crafted speech was impressive , the rest of it, the marketing and tie-ins, were pretty overwhelming to critical thinkers like myself.

  114. Sam

    as an artist myself you constantly get “Can you just do this for me? for free? It’s not THAT much work, I only asked for a girl holding a kitten” but they don’t realize the hours and hours of sketching you do to get the composition, the hours and hours you have to spend finding reference, the countless days and nights you spent honing your skills, the meals and hours of sleep you skipped to get a project done, or the $40 000 student debt you accumulated while studying to work in your chosen field. With art and performing art in general people undervalue it and see it as a lazy attempt at a get rich quick scheme. No one actually understands that with the arts you often live them, your job doesn’t end at 9-5, it doesn’t even go on pause when you go to sit down to eat dinner. It is something you think about all the time. Many people still frown upon me because I took an arts course and think I know nothing, despite the fact that I had to know the human skeletal and muscular systems as well as their given proportions and shapes and how and where they connect. With performing arts, especially as an independent artist, you have a whole lists of other tasks besides getting up on stage and doing the one performance everyone sees, but no one is able to see past that.

    I am really happy that you chose to make a stand for artists, because they seem to be viewed as lazy unintelligent people in today’s society, which in fact they are the complete opposite. There aren’t many people willing to have regular 18 hour work days that give them barely enough to support themselves. We do what we do because we love it, but loving it doesn’t make it any less laborious, in fact it means we put FAR more time and effort into it than the normal person would.

    Thank you again for speaking up! We need more support and recognition for artists.

  115. Julia

    Well done you!!
    As an artist myself, I couldn’t agree more!
    Your act is flawless and you deserve a good fee for performing :-)
    Keep up the great work hunny….xx

  116. Al

    Only in the arts do others feel it’s acceptable to ask you to give away your entire product or service unpaid. A double standard. Try the reverse or another profession. “We would like you to come to our property and build a house, just to be clear it’s not a payed gig”. The balls on some people, this is not an acceptable practice. One thing I never do is give away something that cost me money to produce. Charitable donations aside. But an event that makes 99-999 per seat. Pardon me but let me see your charter statements with admin fee percentage! A resume bullet doesn’t feed my family!

  117. Michael

    Oprah probably doesn’t consider playing with hoola-hoops “work.”

  118. Otto

    Oprah is not worth your money. Put it on your debts if you have any and if you don’t, save it for your future. Don’t even watch that greedy b*&$h’s show.

  119. mr bad example

    Bravo! I’ve done freebies for a few local organizations, but they weren’t big bucks groups and I believed in their causes. The pressuring of artists to do work for free is endemic, and my guess is that this ‘offer’ went out when Oprah’s celebrity friends (who can afford to work pro bono on occasion) refused to do freebies.

  120. Cathy

    You said it girl! I would’ve also reminded the Producer that they contacted YOU not the other way around. While you feel flattered they found you, you like Oprah, know you have value and worth and even $500 plus travel expenses would have made the difference in your answer! If that was going to break the bank for the tour maybe those millionaires are being overpaid or the ticket prices were too low. ;) I’m an actress and a singer so I totally get where you’re coming from.

    Maybe also providing an example: JOB OPPORTUNITY, looking for caterer to provide 6 course meal & desserts for my dinner party of 50 people. No pay but great exposure! You can leave out your cards for people to take home.

    There is no difference to asking a performer to perform for free or anyone else to do their job for free! I don’t mind performing for free for a good cause… helping hurricane victims etc… but I don’t consider Oprah a ’cause’ that needs any help!

  121. Engelmech

    I don’t know when it started that people try to get professional artist’s work for free, but it’s a festering sore upon our economy that’s just gotten worse in bad times. If you provide a product or service, you should get paid, period! The only time it’s fine is if it’s charity, and charity should never be for the rich, that’s disgusting.

    Who’s not going to be paid next? Would you expect a heart surgeon to do surgery on Jack Nicholson for free, because the “exposure” could be good for her practice? Absolutely not, so stop expecting artists to spend their time, energy, their OWN money and resources for the chance of being paid for a gig they might get because ~exposure~. Should have asked that producer if she was doing her job for free because having Oprah on her resume looks good.

    And, yes, it IS extra bad when someone worth millions/billions asks for handouts. There’s no excuse for that, and I wonder how many of you people out there crowing that free gigs for exposure is totally ok, are the types of people who want to pull welfare and food stamps out from under people, because you hate people getting “handouts”.

  122. Elizabeth Shivell

    Stand your ground! Its far too easy to discount our value when others see you as avmeans to their ends, especially where their end includes big box office income. Wonderful to have a new artist to follow. All the best to you.

  123. Ben

    I quit my career as a professional opera singer over this kind of stuff. Can’t tell you the number of gigs I had where I simply could not negotiate a reasonable fee due to the dozens of other singers waiting in the wings, ready to do the job for free. Or the times a member of the company’s development team came to rehearsals and lectured the cast members about how we should purchase large blocks of tickets simply out of gratitude for having a place to perform.

    Much as I’d like to toss these companies under the bus I’m, sadly, forced to conclude that there simply isn’t a healthy market for the art I love. Audiences, in general, haven’t the ear to discern quality performances and so, to the extent that they’ll pay for opera, it’s to satisfy their desire for a “cultural experience” and not for any real love of the art. In this environment, companies have no reason to apply their limited resources to better singing.

  124. Dee

    It does seem a bit petty, then again, that janitor who’s getting paid $7 an hour isn’t getting a $600 ticket to the even either. Getting a travel stipend, massive exposure and a free ticket to the event doesn’t sound like slave wages to someone who’s such a large Oprah fan.

  125. Jason

    Revolva, this is brilliant. Thanks for having the courage to write this publicly. I hope Oprah responds. I am sympathetic. I am in a band that won a local award a few years ago. (we never made and real $ at out music, but it seemed the award would propel our career forward). After we won our award, 7 local charities asked us to play their events. They told us about all the corporations that were sponsoring the events, and perhaps we would like to donate our time? As broke-ass musicians, we suggested the charities have the corporations sponsor the music for the event. We didn’t end up performing at any of the events.

    Unfortunately, in a you-tube world of entitlement where people can instantly access any kind of entertainment for free, people have forgotten that artists have to pay bills, eat, and pay rent.

  126. Cab


    Bravely said, lady. You get my vote for president. xo

  127. Sage

    Your piece was on my facebook feed. After reading it had to say something.
    I am writer. I prefer reading well written material. It’s not easy writing a message piece while keeping it funny, easily relatable and memorable. You did it all for me. Thank you. And, as an artist, I’m with you on this all the way.

  128. Hanne

    Hi Revolva,

    As a musician, I share your pain. If you start a petition, I would love to sign it. It could generate some attention to this widespread problem, including from Oprah herself.

    Thanks for an excellent post!

  129. Ralph Lomax

    Well, Well, this is how you earn billions and keep it all!!! By not paying saps that you can get to work for”exposure”!!! Well done Oprah, Just as I always suspected, you are terrible person!!

  130. Sheryl

    Beautiful. Brave. Bold. All the cools Bees. And let’s hope it continues to create Buzz. Love to you, Revolva! You are rich in all the cool ways.

  131. Anonymous

    Right on! I have no use for Oprah and Deepak. They stopped people people I looked to for validation and guidance whether spiritual or otherwise decades ago.

  132. Haley Daria

    GIRL!!! I will support you when I hit it!!! Yes Yes Yes…U are my first choice for my partay!!! I started an Internet company on the road that Oprah lives on in SB 20 years ago…bout 6-7 years in we let a few “Phils” in and we were ROBBED…starting my SIXTH YEAR in the SB Superior “Court” of Fools…chain chain chain indeed for their crimes

    FUCK THESE 1%’ers and all their CABAL cronies…we’re getting ready to start roosting them on the line…

    here and now DRAW IT GIRL……DRAW THE LINE and let no MF’ER CROSS…………………………………..

  133. char

    So so proud of you for standing up to this person that thinks she is above everyone….we all meet our maker the same way Oprah!!!!

  134. Ronbo

    mercenary Artists: when the money runs out, so do we!

    I am a union man, I do not and will not work for free. (No sarcasm here)
    And unless it is charity, for a good cause, I recommend others not to.
    And I mean charities where 100% of the funds go to the cause, otherwise I want paid too.

    (Sarcasm starts here)
    No ticket no laundry.
    Hey kids daddy is working for Oprah! for free! maybe we can eat next week!
    Pony up bitch!

    (Sarcasm is over)
    Stick to your guns kiddo!

  135. i see you

    This is obviously a very clever publicity stunt…
    Spitefully exposing the exploitation by Oprah event and turning it into a good commercial for REVOLVA!
    I’m sure it will lead to many YouTube hits and hopefully a couple of more gigs for you REVOLVA… Way to go REVOLVA!

  136. Anonymous

    The life we should all want is the life where we’re paid enough to in turn pay our own bills. Food, shelter etc, and not go broke for ‘exposure’. You’re worth more.

  137. Anonymous

    I think Revolva has totally misunderstood this booking. The price of the tickets is irrelevant, nobody’s paying for that outside stage. The tickets are for in the stadium/arena, and that’s not where you’re being asked to play.

    Revolva thinks it’s a case of “we’re charging up to $999 per ticket and we want you to perform as an act on this ticket, but do it for free” …. whereas actually it’s more like “yes we’re charging up to $999 per ticket for the main stage, but you wouldn’t be part of that, you’re being offered AN OPPORTUNITY to get on a free [out]side stage where lots of other unpaid acts will perform and you can get some exposure that might lead to you getting some well-paid gigs in future by someone who spots your talent”.

    Typical, people joining the dots and making up their own impression of what the think is happening, but actually isn’t. Plus, you’re assuming Oprah knows anything about this. She has almost certainly never heard of you Revolva and won’t have known about the researcher/booker (not producer) that called.

    Get over yourself.

    • Nina Ulloa

      i think the entire point of the letter is it’s demeaning to be expected to perform for free to maybe “get some exposure”

      • Anonymous

        But it’s a free stage. Where would the money be coming from ? If I’d paid $999 a ticket for the main event, I wouldn’t want any of that money going to fund a free stage that I could see for nothing outside. I’d be thinking well if $10 of that ticket price is going to fund that outside stage, which I have no interest in seeing (or can see for free) then gimme my $10 back.

        Just playing devil’s advocate here because nobody else is. Everyone just wants to see the evil side raised by this open letter to Oprah. I’m no Oprah fan, I’ve never seen an episode of her show, but it seems to me that if a gig is free, you can’t expect to get paid.

        It’s a complete coincidence that next to this free gig, is a paying gig at the same time. Those invited to play on the free stage should be thankful that “they” put in all the money to set up that stage. That no doubt cost them tens of thousands already.

    • Elfriede

      Anonymous wrote you’re assuming Oprah knows anything about this. She has almost certainly never heard of you Revolva and won’t have known about the researcher/booker (not producer) that called.
      Oprah will get to know about THIS or other viral storms concerning her talk and walk – eventually.
      following this or other storms that are holding her and her team accountable, Oprah will also find out who the researcher/booker was who — following the routine of business as usual i.e. profit over people — attempted to hire one more artist for “exposure only”, counting on their willingness to comply with exploitation (i.e. business as usual).
      Oprah or else Oprah’s name/reputation runs and is responsible for her whole show trip. she is to be held answerable for what is being done to the least of her brethren/sisters in her name. social media is the way to get Oprah’s attention – eventually. she herself uses it for crowd polling.

      Get over yourself.
      poor shaming comment, anonymous. to hold out to one’s dignity and the dignity of one’s prospective employers is to stand one’s ground of integrity. Revolva stepped up one notch out of “common compliance” and got over that self in her that is entrained in putting up with (public) shaming/humiliation that is to be conceived as “normal” and “deserved”.

      <q cite="[E]xcellence isn’t usually what gets you up the greasy pole. What gets you up is a talent for maneuvering. Kissing up to the people above you, kicking down to the people below you. Pleasing your teachers, pleasing your superiors, picking a powerful mentor and riding his coattails until it’s time to stab him in the back. Jumping through hoops. Getting along by going along. Being whatever other people want you to be […] Just keeping the routine going.”>
      see William Deresiewicz, October 2009

  138. Mike

    In a world where so many middle class families encouraged college, and those colleges encouraged ‘finding yourself’ and turned out a generation to create a ‘creation and creative economy’ there are simply a too many creative people looking to find a way to make a living as artists.

    As an actor who came of age in the east village of NYC in the late 1950’s all i can say now is I wouldn’t have the guts to do it today.

    I fully support Revolva’s ideas, but sadly, there are a lot of people who would leap at this chance (the stage is now fully booked!) because their parents are subsidizing their creative lives. In a few years many of these children in their early 30’s might move back to Ohio and New Jersey and go to work in dad;s car dealership or insurance office. But until then, the laws of supply and demand will test the mettle of th talented.

    Shame on you Oprah!

    • Larry Lustbader

      I’ve never watched Oprah but I did watch you and enjoyed it.
      One thing that all people on all sides of issues need is inner peace.
      I hope you enjoy this.

  139. Elfriede

    Bravo, Revolva, for taking a stand.
    for going public with what i consider the shadow side of big “success” somebodies when dealing with nobodies.
    what you experienced is RANKISM (abuse of rank, abuse of Oprah’s big name for exploitation).

    did you ask this manager the sum that is paid to Deepak Chopra to speak at Oprahs tour event?
    he came to Germany twice. the first organizer literally CRIED – for having been taken advantage of by DC. 10 years later another organizer learned it the hard way that DC did not care to allow enough time for proper translation. DC’s timing was off, hence people left during the event. they felt underestimated by the speaker. Chopra may eventually make a third round in the German market 10 years — just based on his somebody name.
    as an interpreter at psychospiritual events with well known teachers i experienced similar rankist no pay/free ticket offers by stingy organizers of profit-over-people “spiritual” conferences, the (nonpaid/undervalued) sponsors of Byron Katie and Arjuna Ardagh, to name a few. the argument you get to hear is that your service FOR a “great teacher” is a privilege as such (no concern of the rest of the scheme). Neale Donald Walsh’s office hired a musician couple to frame/entertain his European tour. yes, they performed on the same stage and were announced by Walsh. they paid their way solely by selling their CDs to the audience. NDW’s office did neither care to send them the complete tour schedule nor to coordinate the purchase of fair priced air tickets in due time.
    surely organizers/public persons would not consider to suggest the hotel manager that is going to rent the seminar facility to serve for “exposure only” or else for the privilege to house a celebrity.

    Revolva et al., i am concerned to read posts in fullblown support of “spiritual” rankism. for me they convey a message that does appeal to ever hungry seagulls/rankist players, not to dignified humans, “go sail in the shadow of an oceanliner and feed yourself from the crumbs that happen to fall on your dinghy, given you stir it aptly.”

    “It is excellent to have a giant’s strength;
    but it is tyrannous to use it like a giant.”
    William Shakespeare (1564-1616), Measure for Measure, II, ii, 1623

    the reason why your open letter went viral is related to people’s (and lab monkey’s) inborn sense of justice:
    we are moving out of the system of ranked honor into the age of equal dignity.
    traditionally underlings/dependents/nobodies accepted “honor humiliation” by somebodies.
    in the transitioning phase “dignity humiliation” (real or imagined) is no longer easily accepted.
    you experienced dignity humiliation by the still “mostly accepted” business routine of Oprah’s tour organizer – and you responded creatively – holding Oprah & Co. accountable.

  140. syann

    This article just screamed familuarity to me, as a musician – I’ve heard the word ‘exposure’ a multitude of times. “I’ll pay you in exposure” “In experience” – Once a club owner contacted me to do a gig for him for two hours and he promised that “I’d get to play in front of 100 people, but I can’t pay you.” – Those 100 will go back and forth to the bar for the two hours I perform and he’s certain that he can’t give me a cut out of it. I put up with that shit for years, now I don’t take it. It really does piss me off, the wittiness of some folk who don’t understand the time/effort/practice and money that goes into playing long performances for people. If you’re a performer and you hear someone ask you to perform but they’ll only pay you in experience and the ‘possibility’ of exposure – please don’t take that bullshit for your own good. If you feel like you’re being harsh you shouldn’t feel that way, you’re more likely to get a gigs from people who are willing to pay if you set your standards high and give yourself the self-respect you deserve as a hard working artist.

  141. Marshall

    My standard response when this happens to me is to respond that people die of exposure. Good for you.

  142. Liz

    Good for you for standing up to the bullshit AND for making it public. I hope she has the common sense and courtesy to at least pretend she gives a shit and make it right. Would love to hear the follow up.

  143. David

    Wait people thought Oprah was real? All that junk is fake and scripted. The only way you get in the entertainment industry is through very hard work for very little pay if any at all. Then when you get popular enough you start making crazy amounts of money. Thats how it works for pro wrestling, sports, talk show hosts, carnival shows (that’s the form of entertainment Id put this stuff as if there is a PC term I am ignorant to it and my apology’s.) and TV people.

  144. mbp

    Well said! Oprah should be ashamed! People with big egos get what’s coming to them before they die.

  145. mbp

    Bravo! Well said. People like Oprah with big egos get what’s coming to them before they leave this earth. It wouldn’t surprise me to find you weren’t the first asked to work for free, but the first to be vocal about it.

  146. Richelle

    Shame on her, and if she doesn’t know she is doing it shame on her staff. But the buck stops with Oprah. I am also not happy about the heads of non-profits driving around in their BMWs asking for me to five $ to their cause making me feel bad about saving money to buy a Prius.

  147. Anonymous

    People and organizations are continually asking visual artists -painters- to contribute paintings for money makers. This type of thing continues to demean all artists, who put in their life, their energy, time and money into learning and creating their art.

  148. Emily

    I completely understand – I was asked all the time to offer free yoga, bellydance or Zumba, and gladly did many times for NFPs, but corporations and fitness shows/WNBA games where people are paying to be there? Why should I work for free? Why give out a free class – you can’t go to a restaurant I ask for the first meal free to get a “feel for it”. Not sure why performers are seen as people who don’t need money – maybe our creative spirit comes off as being carefree about money, eating, a roof? Green energy is real – my time is valuable and so is yours!

  149. Warpig

    What Good does it do someone to inherit the earth,But loose His or Hers Eternal Life…Keep Your Money Oprah…All of it.

  150. maureen

    Good for you! It must have been hard to turn that down but you stuck to your standards. I ran a small festival at my school and managed to get grants etc to pay the musicians fair pay. People that were unaware of this issue kept asking me if I could get people to pay for free. Hell no! It is really despicable (and like everyone I love Oprah) that they would pay everyone else the going rate and not the artists. If I could manage to pay performers with no budget then surely one of the richest women in the world could. How much money does Oprah need?

  151. OLK

    It is very interesting to see what Oprah is able to get away with. I especially liked your comparison with Zuckerberg or the Koch Brothers — what would happen if they tried to avoid paying talent. That was a good picture and so true.

  152. Also an Artist

    Let’s not forget that this is the same woman who solicited donations from her “Angel Network” (ie, audience) to fund schools in Africa, then publicized the result as if she’d wholly funded it herself. Anyone who thinks Oprah didn’t know that her producers were asking people to work for free is kidding themselves. Good for you, Revolva, for exposing his hypocrisy and for standing up for yourself and, consequently, artists everywhere!

  153. My Name is Speaker Legion

    Brilliant, Brava, You go girl! It’s about effing time someone put it so eloquently. Welcome to my world and the world of Professional speakers everywhere. A new presentation can take me between 60 and 100 hours to prepare with all the research, phone calls. surveys, writing, rehearsing, etc. Add to that the travel time and the time it takes to present. People like this producer think we speakers just “stand up and talk.” Then this type usually has a boatload of restrictions on what can and cannot be said or done. They often restrict us from doing the very thing that got us referred to them – the thing that is featured on our websites. It would be like them telling you, “We love you! But no cartwheels. Oh and we don’t have a budget for you. EXPOSURE!!!”

    Speakers and trainers get this all the time. More often than not it’s a convention that is charging upwards of $800-$900 per person. Or it’s a group totally out of our demographic who also won’t allow us to sell any of our books or tapes because it’s “unseemly” — yet asking me to get up early in the morning to drive halfway across the moon to get to them FOR FREE isn’t ‘unseemly.’

    One thing I’ve noticed over the years of being an idiot and saying yes to these? The less they pay, the less respect they show me, my material and my time. The richer they are and the more powerful they perceive themselves to be, the less they want to do for “the little people.”

    I have said No to the Chicken Soup series of books because they want full rights in perpetuity for my work for the measly sum of $300! I have said no to American Society of Association Execs because they make us pay our way to the convention, don’t let us sell books at the back of the room and don’t pay even a smidgen for travel. A lot of local organizations try that as well. BOOOOOOO

  154. Ashley

    Regardless…That kind of advertising is priceless, I would have done that in a heart beat.
    The $500 dollar or whatever few for you to preform would be pennies

  155. marc

    Unbelievable! Then again, it is not. She breaks her arm every time she has to pat herself on the back for doing a “good deed”. And she makes sure the world hears about it. What is being said that is worth $999.00. Nothing you could not find for free in the public library or from talking to various people on the street. Or, think of for yourself. She holds the key to nothing but greed and more greed. She’s a perfect portrait of capitalism and all of its’ trapping and loathsomeness. Good luck to you and if you are ever in DC I will happily pay to see you perform. Fuck Oprah.

  156. Curious

    This whole rant “seems” to be justified. I just wondered to all the songwriters and musicians should Revolla be sending Beyonce a check? Are you licensing her music or stealing for your act? Not passing judgement simply asking. Are we giving what we are asking? Is it only not fair because it’s you and are you holding yourself to the same standard of getting paid for your worth? Just curious.

  157. John Butler

    By working for free you prove what you think you’re worth. Doing stuff for free for friends and family or for charity is laudable. Doing stuff for free for billionaires is laughable.

  158. sophie O.

    I totally agree with the whole point of the letter. The girl has guts by refusing -in the name of art- something that others would simply die for. But I can see one flaw here: did she pay for the Beyoncé track that she’s using for her performance?

  159. Cycar777

    This seems to be a very popular way of getting things done for free… Marketing 101 – free advertisement in exchange for free services. I have seen this done ethically, where both parties benefit, but it’s overused and misused. In light of the revenue generated by an event like this it is most definitely going to be perceived as a slap in the face. More people need to have the courage to stand up for what’s right, unfortunately there are so many people who don’t understand their value and worth and are exploited!

  160. amy

    oprah plz call me i want work with i i make up artis from malaysia 0124385708

  161. Kami

    Good for you. It takes guts to do what you’ve done. Whether it is the seamstresses, crafts, media, music, performers, artists of all kinds. It is in law, medicine etc, etc. I remember when taking work experience opportunities the company would at least cover your expenses. It has been for a while now a situation where people are paying the company for the ‘opportunity’ to do work experience. There are jobs / positions that are never paid and have a rolling stream of eager and desperate people working for nothing in the false promise of a possibility of work. There is only one word to describe this… “SLAVERY”


    If you won’t do it, and no one in this country will work for what actually puts you in deficit, then they will find some poor sod in another part of the world that will, and soon enough they will demand more and pay them less also. Enough is enough is enough. LET US ALL SAY NO AND STOP BEING SLAVES!!!

    Revolva – you are not alone, thank you for your post. I also have made choices to be authentic and honourable to myself. In this day and age it is truly a sign of real nobility and sovereignty that stands out amongst the charlatans such as Oprah.

  162. Carrie

    I fully agree with you Miss Revolva, we have got to Honor one another’s giftings and unfortunately those of use on the more creative end of the spectrum tend to lose out more often than not. But I can’t help but share a realization I came to after owning a small Dance/Wellness studio. Everything costs money. I used to make justified rants such as this more quickly, until “I” owned a business and began to learn very quickly SOME of my misjudgements. We often assume an event is only taking up rent, preparation, and space for the few hours we spectators are participating. I am willing to bet that it takes a week to set up for the “weekend event” so rent of a whole stadium is not just 3, but 7 days, add in food & “services” for staff and crew, hotel/motel accommodations (since they are working that week), make-up, lighting, sound, etc; for Oprah and guests, and evidently an outdoor stage?then we add in the gas, labor, set-up and take-down of such events of all involved.. . you get where I am going. Part of the gap between the 1% and the rest of us, is many of us in the lower classes, don’t really know just how much time, money, and preparation goes into such large businesses and events and I worry we place our judgements and anger in the wrong places. I fully agree that the world would be better served if there was a cap on the income/salary of many people I just can’t stop shaking my head at the idea that someone could get paid millions of dollars to shoot one episode of “friends” even if that episode took a few weeks to tape? I don’t think I’ll ever wrap my head around that one! But I also have learned that I have had a healthy “prejudice” against wealthy people, ALL wealthy people and then I wonder why said wealthy people wouldn’t hire me? So glad I got that cleared up ;) You should have at least been offered what you would normally charge, and whether that was Oprahs actual decision or that of one of her producers, I’ll never know… obviously their loss, as you are a great performing artist! Better deal next time!

  163. surely-right

    By Oprah not paying artists who actually ‘need’ to be paid, she is hoping to add to her 2.9 BILLION and make it an even 3 billion. It’s alll about their money honey.

  164. alamin leak

    Hi ms oprah, my name is alamin leak. And I was just writing you to ask if you can talk about the comming of the Lord our God. Maybe if you speak on it and show your faith or just build others people will prepare themselves for what’s surley to come unexpectedly. Let the people know that

    money is just material and how fast god can snatch it away from the person who allows money and fame to draw them astray from our creater. Just bless the audiance with that specific topic. Im in need myself but I pray to god that he bring us through me and my family. God bless u oprah. My number 315 664 1936 adress .2000 lodi st Syracuse ny 13208

  165. Andrew Ranger

    This is completely revolting and unfathomable…. Especially coming from OPRAH, A FUCKING MULTI-BILLIONAIRE WHO GIVES AWAY 200$ CUCKOO CLOCKS FOR SITTING IN A FUCKING CROWD.

  166. PrWo31

    Good for you. Too many think to say “no” to such things only after the fact. I’m proud of you for turning the offer down. Oprah and those working for the show should know better. Unbelievable.

  167. Versus

    Righteous move, and well said.

    The artists who agreed to work for free are traitors. They will also reap what they sow.

  168. ReeKeR

    This does not surprise me one bit.. I am glad Revolva stood up for what she believes in and said NO. Sadly you have millions of people who would jump at the chance and do it for free. In the world of the performing artist the word FREE has become expected of us even if the rate we charge is reasonable. Free show because I am giving you the stage to perform on so I am not going to pay you… I am giving you exposure and that is my payment to you! You the artist pay me if you want to perform on my stage has become pretty common too. For the freebie people I ask the question do you show up to work for free and do not get paid? The answer is hell no, so why is it any different for a artist! I agree with Revolva and thank her for writing this open letter making people aware!

    Oprah you should be ashamed!!!

  169. Taylor

    I had a Oprah moment the first time i picked up her glossy magazine and found the cost of the outfit she wore on the front was around $25,000 when you include the jewellery – not really the values I thought she espoused. But over the years she has gotten worse in my opinion, as I have to gag when I see the photo-shopped image she prefers these day ….not that I’m against people having wealth they’ve been smart enough to earn, but like you have pointed out, its not ok when they are trying to co-opt other’s value for free – and are so darn preachy!
    Thanks for your decision, well done.

  170. Robert

    Screw Oprah. Screw Deepak. These people are greedy pigs and what they’re selling is just more consumer culture bullshit. We can ALL figure out the lives we want to live without their help.

  171. wildsuces

    I wish YOU wild happy financial FUN and reputation success Revolva, thanks for placing the video of your bride performance-great AND hysterical! Remember when Oprah was trolling for ideas for shows to put on her new network? I decided to enter my show idea and spent hours putting together my video and bio info,etc. Just before pressing the button to enter, I read the lengthy agreement I was agreeing to and whoa! I would have to agree in universal perpetuity that anything I submitted could be used anywhere, anytime for anything that OWN /Oprah wanted to use it for and you agreed to give up ANY rights or control over your own content whatsoever regarding your submission, period. That’s when I knew Oprah is a person practicing low integrity . Duh, she made her early BIG money making trashy, revolting and sensational shows for years . She switched to less tawdry topics for who knows what reasons. She set the girls’ school up in Africa and I still wonder why the girls are made to dress in Catholic style school uniforms versus their own African dress-weird. I give absolutely no leeway for “the little minions do this stuff and Oprah doesn’t know what her staff are doing” theory- she knows exactly what is going on and approves it. Doesn’t surprise me at all she treated you this way but sorry she did. I SOOOOO applaud your decision to be PAID with real currency, now. Thanks for airing your divine discontent (you have hula hoop sized eggs courage!) -it can promote change in important ways- like a paradigm shift !