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the affordability of recording and performing


Let's get this out of the way first, before linking to this great article in the Guardian: releasing fully produced music is more accessible than ever. You can compose, record, produce, on your phone, on an ancient laptop, on anything from a Gameboy to a VR device. On headphones on the go, or at home. Upload in the cloud.

“People who work at labels think bands make loads of money touring, while booking agents think they make loads of money on publishing and so on”

This, from the article, is a great quote. I've written before about my thoughts on not gigging, in response to the idea that playing live is supposedly imperative. However, for years playing live has been a vehicle for selling merchandise (t-shirts etc) and physical copies of music.

But to anyone who has looked to craft their work and perfect their art, more than to simply come up with music they can perform live (provided there's an audience), it's obvious that reaching a level of sophistication above the no-name/no-label/no-following music being churned out on library sites or on Spotify, or more recently by AI, takes disproportionately long time.

That time needs sponsoring, regardless of if, to the artist, it's just a hobby or their line of work. And I don't want more planet-burning plastic (CDs, vinyl, cassettes) on sale.

In the age of scarce attention, corporations trading whole artist catalogues riding on "more of the same of the past" algorithmic recommendations love to deprive us of our agency as audience. What little is left feels like a kind of zero-sum game of who can steal a moment of (y)our time or focus, before it's diverted away again. 99% of that goes to the Swifts and their Eras, with no counterbalance mechanism – unless an artist has made it big, they don't get even a minute share of discovery time. To mix in a metaphor, no tides lifting all boats.

Music continues to be ubiquitous and ever-present. As listeners we treat it as a given. I don't think being a musician has ever meant being financially stable. But over the past few years it has truly morphed into an expensive hobby - simply by way of taking the time to produce new and unique and meaningful art, and, in conditions of being continuously distracted by 24/7 feeds or media, taking risks to release and perform to an audience that may or may not turn up at all.

Unlike the UK, many European countries sponsor the arts. That too feels ancient, in the presence of tech giants endlessly supplying us with endless content. Some of that content swells up enough to monetise in a rush, and leads to more being produced and another cycle of the same. A true industry.

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