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Thread September 5, 2015 editorial: comments

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Mike Levine

Mike Levine

1066 posts
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First post
1 Posted on 09/05/2015 at 10:00:03

Are Musicians Doing Better than We Thought?

Here in the U.S., it’s Labor Day weekend. Monday is a day that most of us have off to celebrate the labor movement and workers. And on the subject of musicians laboring, an interesting controversy has sprung up after the New York Times published an article that painted a surprisingly rosy picture of the ability of musicians to make a living in the digital age.

When I read it, I was puzzled, as it seemed to describe something very different than the reality we've all encountered over the last 10-15 years. The story presented a bunch of statistics that were quite surprising, basically saying that the so-called “creative apocalypse” wasn’t really happening. Not everyone was convinced, however. In fact there was a lot of pushback against the Times’s statistics from some very credible sources. Check out this article from Salon.com, which gives you a good description of the controversy.

I’m not sure I get why the Times would want to push the narrative that they did in that article, but it’s their story and they’re sticking to it. I encourage you to read it and the Salon rebuttal. I’d love to hear your thoughts about it.

One thing that’s not controversial is that an integral part of being a musician these days is knowing how to record. To that end, I just posted a review of the long awaited-Studio One 3 update. There are a lot of new features, and some very innovative ones, so I encourage you to read that one, too.

Enjoy the weekend!

Michael Ross

Michael Ross

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2 Posted on 09/05/2015 at 10:45:21
The Times article was interesting if flawed, as is the Salon article, which is just as shallow, offering no rebutting statistics but merely more anecdotal evidence. It is a new and very complex cultural landscape out there. One problem I have with the Salon article and many of the doomsayers out there is that they seem to expect the world to turn back the clock. One example: Those who complain about artists no longer being able to live in cities are usually referring to cities like New York or Los Angeles. The fact is, in the modern world, artists no longer have to, nor do they live in these traditional urban centers. They can, and do, live and work anywhere. Scenes are growing up in Kansas City, Detroit, Oxford, etc. There, rents are low and a good living can be made without becoming a superstar. The star concept itself is outmoded, with the Balkanization of everything there is no longer a universal agreement on anything but the reality show type artists. We are in a period of transition and new concepts and methodologies are required, not longing for a time of ease and comfort for artists that actually never existed. I am not saying that artists shouldn't fight to get paid, just that it is a new world and old thinking has no place in it.

Michael Ross

guitarmoderne.com

Mike Levine

Mike Levine

1066 posts
Author
3 Posted on 09/06/2015 at 08:00:52
Hi Michael,
Thanks for your thoughtful response.
Quote:
The fact is, in the modern world, artists no longer have to, nor do they live in these traditional urban centers. They can, and do, live and work anywhere. Scenes are growing up in Kansas City, Detroit, Oxford, etc. There, rents are low and a good living can be made without becoming a superstar. The star concept itself is outmoded, with the Balkanization of everything there is no longer a universal agreement on anything but the reality show type artists.

You make a very good point. I guess the problem is that a lot of the musicians who were doing well in NY and L.A. are still there, and for them, things have changed for the worse. Because they were the musicians who were making it, they're the most vocal about how things have changed. But it's true, you could probably rent a whole house in Kansas City for what a 1-bedroom apartment costs per month in Brooklyn. Part of the difference is that young musicians in scenes outside the major (or formerly major) music production areas have a different definition of what constitutes good money. I know a young indie rock musician who told me about a "good paying gig" his band had played on their recent tour. When I asked how much the band was paid that night, he said "$250."
Michael Ross

Michael Ross

7 posts
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4 Posted on 09/06/2015 at 08:14:20
Living circumstances are but the tip of the iceberg in a complex and multi-layered issue. I am sure successful blacksmiths complained the loudest when autos arrived. Few who write about this topic bring up simple supply and demand. If you want to get paid you are part of the market economy. Take music competing against movies, gaming, YouTube, Instagram, Twitter, and television for attention and combine that with music schools grinding out thousands of players at the same time punk showed us you don't need any kind of schooling and you ave a vastly different ratio of supply versus demand than existed when the complainers started. I recommend readers check this out for a clearer-eyed vision and someone who is thinking about the future rather than the past. https://www.theguardian.com/music/2015/sep/06/imogen-heap-saviour-of-music-industry?CMP=Share_AndroidApp_Facebook

Michael Ross

guitarmoderne.com

Mike Levine

Mike Levine

1066 posts
Author
5 Posted on 09/07/2015 at 07:34:34
Quote:
I recommend readers check this out for a clearer-eyed vision and someone who is thinking about the future rather than the past. https://www.theguardian.com/music/2015/sep/06/imogen-heap-saviour-of-music-industry?CMP=Share_AndroidApp_Facebook

Thanks for the link. I look forward to reading something about the music industry that isn't all bad news. :-D
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