Human beings, of course, have been making art at least since a Paleolithic man sketched a horse on the Lascaux caves 17,000 years ago. Stone sculpture of busty women and music, made originally on animal bones, are likely even older; the late scholar Denis Dutton argued in his book “The Art Instinct” that creativity was hard-wired into the human race during the process of evolution.
So, some of us will always do this. Modern life has allowed specialization that Stone Age man did not enjoy, but it’s never been easy to survive as an artist. Still, for generations to come, young people with trust funds will head to urban centers to make it as writers, visual artists, musicians and filmmakers. A few – especially those with copious subsidies from parents – will strike gold and inspire the next generation to take a chance.
What’s changing is the ability for people to make a middle-class living in creative fields. Many are forced to go freelance because they are losing their jobs: A new report shows that even well after the official end of the recession, slashed state budgets are making things tougher in the performing arts, with a 16 percent drop in performing-arts jobs since last year.
“For the performing arts,” writes economist and Progressive Policy Institute senior fellow Mike Mandel, “this is the moment where recession turns into depression.” For authors, book advances are reported to be about half of what they were before the crash. That’s easily the difference between a viable project and something you just can’t afford to do without an inheritance.
And as the New York Times recently observed, the freelance musician has gone the way of the Southern Democrat.
“It was a good living. But the New York freelance musician – a bright thread in the fabric of the city – is dying out,” wrote Daniel J. Wakin. “In an age of sampling, digitization and outsourcing, New York’s soundtrack and advertising-jingle recording industry has essentially collapsed. Broadway jobs are in decline. Dance companies rely increasingly on recorded music. And many freelance orchestras, among the last steady deals, are cutting back on their seasons, sometimes to nothingness.”
This is all coming very soon after a surging discussion about how casual, “no collar” creative class, laptop-toting “knowledge workers,” self-determining “free agents,” and so on, would be redefining and reviving American life. Richard Florida’s vaunted creative class was supposed to be pumping its mojo into American cities.
> The music industry has been through a lot since your career began. How has that changed things for you? Is the new music industry – weaker major labels, internet enabling DIY art – a better place, in your opinion?
I don’t think it is better or worse. I started as a 14 year old hanging out with folks from Iceland’s only indie label (Gramm), where it was all about self-sufficiency, and not signing to big labels because they killed Elvis and will rip you off. I think for a lot of years there was a lot of unnecessary overhead in record companies; they were kind of making too much money and now it has gone normal again. However, at the end of the day, there will always be people who want to listen to music and always be people who want to make it and that’s what it is all about.
What keeps a person going? As I write this, I’m aware that there are people reading who know exactly what I’m talking about. Young painters and film-makers and novelists who are in that exact same place. Lemme say this to you:
Don’t quit. Bleed from your eyeballs if you have to, but don’t stop. What kept me going was the same thing that kept those dancers working at the barre. I just loved it. Even when the work was garbage, which was 99.9% of the time, I had to keep trying – and if you’re trying now, God bless you. Keep hammering. If you have a choice, you’ll know it and you’ll stop. But you who are like me – you don’t have a choice.
via a Roseanne Cash post to Twitter
Spotify and rivals have seen big bumps in their connected userbases since Facebook???s new music-sharing features launched, but what about artists? Inside Facebook has been doing some digging, and reports that the new ticker features have not resulted in a similar boost for the number of people Liking artist pages on the social network.