Heart surgeons, astronauts, and congressmen

We had a discussion during our last class about one of our guest speaker’s clients, and how they were struggling to maintain popularity. Needless to say her and I had a little difference of opinions, which I’ve outlined below. The guest speaker believed that her musicians were not able to make a living because people were illegally downloading her musicians songs instead of buying them, while I argued that the no one was downloading their music at all because they were not talented.

I believe the music industry is called the music industry because it is a business like any other. For example, when AT&T bought Lucent Technologies back in 1999 the employees who were laid off at Lucent had to change what they were doing and get another job to pay the bills. If you are a musician who’s genre is suddenly out of demand why should you be any different than any other recently unemployed person? Get work wherever you can and figure it out!

Anyways, when our guest speaker was answering my question she said something about my above analogy that really bothered me. Speaking about one of her artists who was struggling to make money off music she asserted that he “was not about to go work at Walmart” in order to make a living. Not only was this statement wrong, it was offensive. What gives her client an elevated status above the working class? What makes him so special? The answer is nothing, which can be supported by the number of albums he’s sold in the last ten years…

Getting back to the point, I guess what I am trying to say is that if you can make a living off music that is great, high fives and snaps for you. However, if you can’t you need to realize that becoming a musician is like trying to become a heart surgeon, an astronaut, or a congressman. All of these careers are plausible for certain individuals, but they are not easily attainable by any stretch of the imagination.

Lastly I have a message for all you recently irrelevant or one hit wonder bands out there: do not blame the fans, the record labels, or Apple for your lack of album sales — blame yourself — other professionals do not wrongly displace their shortcomings, and neither should recording artists.


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