Almost half of working musicians in the UK earn less than £14k a year

Musicians have an average of three-to-four jobs to be able to afford to live

I replied to a post by Mixmag on facebook earlier, I figured I’d make a blog post about it. it’s an old subject, but it’s no less important.

For anything to succeed you have to work hard at it right? We all agree on that I think. So then follow that logic and you quickly realise that art of any kind is extremely time consuming and this is the issue. Simply doing a full time job to earn a few quid then doing art as a hobby in the evening or whatever is fine for some, it can work, if they just want to enjoy themsleves, do the odd gig, make some music etc. It can even work to get famous and move into the industry….But the actual business of music is a LONG way away from that hobby world. it IS full FULL ALL THE FFFING time, completely full time, and if you do it full time like I do, you will know how completely enveloping that really is. From the moment you wake up to the moment your head hits the pillow, you are working on your music in one way or another.

As a full time working musician, DJ, event organiser, digital creator, music producer, music production teacher, composer, record label owner/manager, sample pack creator, video editor, beta tester, website deigner, graphic designer………(which are just some of the many skills needed to be a FULL TIME musician these days) I honestly can say that in my 35 years of making music, ( I am 54 ) it has NEVER been so finanically tough on artists & creatives in the music industry as it is now. There are more avenues to make money yes, but there is MUCH less money. Pennies where there were pounds.

Sometimes things go your way, sometimes they don’t, as an artist you are always working to make better art, to improve and create new things, push barriers, push concepts, communicate ideas to people, bring people together, make people aware of certain issues (political, social?) you want to bring to light. The simple truth is that in todays social media age, art has been devalued, to the point where corporates have moved in and taken over. Since the vinyl collapse in the late 1990s, what used to be in industry mostly run by independant record labels ( I AM TAKING ABOUT DANCE MUSIC HERE ) steadily getting by, has been replaced by huge money making companies, such as, Instagram, Facebook, Tik Tok You Tube, Spotify, Apple Music etc…where the financial odds are MASSIVELY stacked against the humble musician.

Events are suffering because the corporates have taken over club culture too, huge events might look amazing on social media ( wow look at the pretty lights ) but they have always come at a price. Too many of them and they suck the revenue out of the rest of the club scene, and smaller venues/events start to struggle, if you believe eveything you see on your socials then everyone is having such a great time playing these huge stadium/festivals, and yeah, they are, but also in reailty it’s harder than ever to get people into the smaller/independant grass roots events, ticket sales this year for UK festivals were bad, and lot’s of festivals cancelled because of it.

My issue with the whole “get a real job” thing is that this snotty attitude devalues art and artists too. It says to them “you are lazy” it says “your art is not worth anything” and worst of all it says…. “I could do that” when you clearly can’t. Oh yeah, and how easy is it to get a “real job” anyway? Just breeze into a job that’s really well paid for decent hours? Like there aren’t loads of industries going on strike here in the UK at the moment, such as the Nurses or Train staff? Come on, let’s think about this before we drop the “get a real job” comment in our social media feed and then go off to work whistling happily to yourself “hooray I devalued someones life today, aren’t I great? “

No, look, the music industry is in a big mess at the moment financially, a lot of the older gen ( of which I am a part) are struggling to make ends meet now, having been succeeded by the younger gen ( an obvious state of affairs you may think ), and this is the truth, across the board I’ve heard people speaking out, from DJs such a Dave Clarke to Rap stars such as Snoop Dogg, all saying the same thing, everyone agrees the only way to make money is to tour, and that is a relentless and very anti social ( AND LIMITED TO FAMOUS & YOUNG PEOPLE) way to make a living.

So yeah something does need to be done about how music is sold and how the money from those sales and plays is distributed to musicians, platforms such as ASLICE have come along and yeah I think this is on the right track, many people DO want to support their musicians, they simply can’t because the corporate structure has got the industry by the throat and any money you spend on your favorite music goes to them, not the artists. It could start with a very humane thing. We ALL start to appreciate art as being a form of work and effort and dedication and understand that this is not an “easy” path to take for some, we change our attitudes.

Support your favorite artists, buy tickets to their shows, buy their merch, buy their tracks, don’t blag guest list to their events if you don’t need it, don’t assume that they have some kind of alternative imaginary revenue stream. No, for most, their money comes directly from your pockets. They make a great track, it takes hours and hours to get that sound right, they send it out they get rejected, then a label picks it up, gets it mastered, designs a cover, uploads it to distribution, sends out promos, get;s it released, and promotes it as hard as they can spending money all the way. All these systems from the Software the music was written on, to the end product involve payments out by the artist, the label etc it is a massive punt, you might get the moeny back, you probabaly won’t, this is the reality. Subscriptions to promotion companies, accounting software, online marketing, plus your bills, rent etc , video editors fees, graphic design, and TIME…..TIME is the biggest commodity here, it takes HOURS to get a track released and to do it justice HOURS of hard bloody work. WORK.

SO next time you hear a great track and you want to play it at the weekend?