The Death of the (Musical) Middle Class

“We have to get over the notion of the old musical middle class, where you could put out an album every two years, do a bunch of tour dates, sell some t-shirts, and make $75k a year. The new reality looks like driving for Lyft when you’re home, maybe taking a few freelance composing gigs for an ad agency, releasing and touring around your own music, and bartending at your buddy’s place on weekends. Is this less fun, perhaps, or more stressful, than the old way? Absolutely. But it’s also the new normal.

[…]

When people talk about the gig economy as a new concept, it’s because it’s a new concept for a very select group of people. Women, immigrants, and people of color have always been part of the gig economy, not because it was cool and freeing and driving for Lyft is a super fun way to make money while finishing their novels–it was because they had no other options. Being able to ‘follow your passion’ and make art for a living is a very class-based concept–most people are just working to pay the bills, and the idea that you have a right to write and perform music and make a living doing so is a foreign concept.

I absolutely believe in paying people for their work, but figuring out what they should be paid (or have a right to be paid) is tricky. But opposing Spotify, in the absence of a realistic solution, is just silly and privileged. I’d love to be a (middle class, educated) boomer riding life out on a cushy retirement package…but that’s not an option anymore. Rather than bemoaning the lost past, we need to focus on making the gig economy more sustainable for everyone.”

via This Week in Music Tech | The Death of the (Musical) Middle Class

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