I am one of the people in Milwaukee who doesn't mind that Summerfest chief Don Smiley makes a lot of money and I am one of a handful who knows why this is such a big story for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. The newspaper has always been obsessed with how much money people who don't work for the newspaper make. When I say "obsessed," I am not exaggerating. I have very personal experience with this.
Bo Black, who was once featured on a Playboy cover in the 1960s, was the attractive blonde Summerfest executive director with rabid fans and critics alike who made the woman called "Bo" one of Milwaukee's most interesting figures for more than two decades.
When trained musicians play solely for exposure - except in the case of charitable and/or non-profit events - it devalues the work. Moreover, it means fewer paying gigs for musicians. Ultimately, it helps create a "talent drain" - sending top tier artists to other communities where the pay and prospects are better.
According to a July 13 story on CNNMoney.com, Milwaukee is one of 16 cities across the United States that, “Had the greatest number of listings for six-figure jobs in the past two months.”