Is the idea that musicians should be allowed to participate fully in our country’s economy unrealistic? I hope not; though—barring the introduction of a completely new economy that treats musicians as valuable members of society—I believe it will require a sea change. We will need to demystify the music industry and the nitty gritty of what it means to be a professional musician. We need:
1) Data. The people over at the Future of Music Coalition are doing important work creating better data sets about how musicians earn money from their art. A different, but equally good example of data sharing is Jack Conte’s (Patreon, Pomplamoose) break down of what it cost his band to go on tour. (Though I take issue with Jack’s final line in that post; not all of us have credit cards with $17,000 limits.) The more we know about how musicians make money, the more we can think critically about how musicians participate meaningfully in our country’s economy.