Bartering: trade what you have for what you want


On Craigslist, there’s a section called BARTER.

My sister introduced me to this concept when she first moved to Maui. She would trade her paintings for services or furniture she needed. Besides avoiding the need for cash, bartering was also a way to build a fan base. Eventually these fans became collectors of her art.

Bartering occurs regularly in our society without being labeled as such.

Journalists get press passes to conferences. The issuer of these free tickets usually expects that the journalist would write about the event or reciprocate in other ways. [It’s an option given to the recipient, who has the right to use it but not the obligation to deliver the expectation.] I’ve written reviews of operas, concerts, festivals and other events that I would otherwise not pay and attend. There are other reasons why I write reviews, of course.

I have traded my ability to make other people famous (i.e. found on the Internet) for services such as immigration, photography, and even a bet. I have given piano lessons in exchange for cleaning my home. I have tutored calculus and received tutoring in physics. I have built websites in exchange for services such as tax advice and accounting.

I like bartering because I get to know the other person and develop a relationship. But bartering takes time. It’s much faster to pay for a service or product. Bartering requires finding an equal match.

Newcomers to cultural and creative entrepreneurship often don’t realise that bartering is a recognised way in which artists sustain themselves. If you don’t have the money, as is the case when you start out and in such fields as music (where income is uncertain, lumpy, not huge, or even nil), you will have to find other ways to get the services or things you want or need.

Given the lead time it takes to obtain income from your art (be it concerts for performers, students for music teachers, publishers for writers, etc) bartering may be a way to build your personal network.

Classical guitarist ready to barter in Maui

Classical guitarist ready to barter in Maui

Robert and I arrived on Maui almost a month ago — on Thanksgiving Day to be precise. Nobody other than my immediate family really knows what we’re good at, what we want, and how long we’re here for. Perhaps it’s time to advertise in the BARTER section of Craigslist, Maui Bulletin, and other free ad publications.

What we want in Maui:

for our apartment in Wailuku:

  • small dresser or storage for our clothes so we can finally put away our suitcases for awhile
  • nitty gritty useful things for the kitchen, such as small dishes, glasses, glass pitcher, oven glove, soup ladle, peeler, spatula, coasters, dish mats
  • other items: more hangers (for the closet), patio furniture (small outdoor table and 2 chairs)

for Robert:

  • Amazon vouchers to get second-hand music theory books (or to borrow)
  • a lightweight music stand
  • a surfing buddy

for Anne:

  • a bicycle
  • gift cards for Macy’s, Ross, Sears, Safeway, Walmart
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1 Comment

Filed under economics

One response to “Bartering: trade what you have for what you want

  1. Pingback: How to book a concert tour (part 2): content before contact | Concert Blog

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