Graham Henderson: “Of what is and is not broken…”

The Canadian Independent Music Association just completed a study that pegs the average musician’s income in Canada at $7,228. This echoes an earlier study undertaken by Professor Doug Hyatt of Rotman which put the number at $16,491. Income at these absurdly low levels render it virtually impossible to pursue music as a profession. It starts to look and feel more like a hobby. And let me tell you that this is a far cry from the conditions that could be obtained prior to 1999.

The “middle class” for want of a better term is in a state of what appears to be terminal decline. This is a phenomena that has been remarked on and discussed in many fora but rarely as it applies to the creative class. We now live in a world where a very few musicians have become fabulously wealthy, leaving almost everyone else with very little on the table. Was not digital technology supposed to have done EXACTLY to opposite? Successful bands today have become more brand than band, diversifying into luxury goods, film, television and beyond. This is in strident contrast to musicians of the past who would have been horrified beyond imagining to have their art, their political speech, associated with mere products. I knew artists who turned down absolutely fabulous sums rather than shill for an advertisement.

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