The Death of the (Musical) Middle Class

Concerned about how everyday musicians can survive in today’s marketplace? Read this from This Week in Music Tech:

With the publication of Ethan Kaplan’s totally brilliant “Generic Article About Spotify” a few weeks ago, I thought we’d truly hit the limit on how many ways we could skin the streaming cat. But alas, here’s comes noted old white man and Pink Floyd member Nick Mason tocomplain about Spotify (and Apple. How cute, he thinks it’s 2006!) They don’t pay artists. They “devalue” music. Only one more cliche and I get a bingo!

Here’s what this is really about, and here’s why the people who complain about streaming tend to fit a certain profile — they used to make tons of money off music, now they don’t, and that’s not OK. They love to trot out the idea of the “middle-class artist” as something that needs to be preserved at all costs. Here’s the problem — soon there won’t be any middle class artists, because soon there won’t be any middle class, period.

Now, that sucks. I was raised by boomer parents who got jobs right after they finished college and proceeded to do those jobs for thirty-odd years, until they retired with pensions and benefits. I just went home to visit and they are loving life right now. Meanwhile, everyone I know under thirty (and a fair amount of people I know under forty) are working two or three gigs and paying for Obamacare, just to get by. They’ve had two or three careers already, and a couple of jobs within each. They jump around and pick stuff up where they can. At one time, only a certain subset of people had hyphenated jobs (“actress-waitress,” “model-bartender,” etc); now almost everyone does.

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Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 30+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

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