As a music blogger, it seems to me that the music industry has been drying up, particularly since July just gone.
Please be aware this is only conjecture. My intention is to seek out solutions to get around the obstacles mentioned below.
Each week I visit a series of new music websites to hear and comment on releases as soon as I can find them on YouTube.
There were some good ones such as Ella Henderson’s “Glow” and others by Gorgon City, Sigma with Paloma Faith, Kiesza and Charlie XCX, but these started to dwindle after mid-July to very few in the last 3 months.
People will continue to want to listen to, buy and play music, but what if it has become so difficult to make music in today’s economic conditions, such as:
- Student fees.
- Benefit sanctions.
- Housing benefit limitations.
- Abolition of council tax benefit.
- Greatly raised basic living costs due to widespread new “basic essentials” such as mobile phones and Internet access, without which people would face a degree of exclusion.
- Constant monitoring, requirement for travel, obligatory courses and work schemes for those on benefits.
- Fierce competition for even the most basic jobs.
- Lack of employment.
- Lack of variety in employment opportunities to match variety of academic qualifications.
- Lack of realistic or helpful careers advice.
- The health, productivity and mental effects of stress such as constant distraction on people not meeting their living costs.
- The distraction and costs imposed by the welfare state, which reduces time and attention spent on looking for work.
Someone with creative talent leaving education today probably faces an assault course of barriers in the way of their path into a creative career that best meets their skills and abilities.
When you consider the constant demand for creative output by the general public, this seems disjointed and the backlash is very much against the economy because:
- Many people are out of work due to a shortage of jobs.
- Money spent, or even wasted, by the benefit system on unproductively dealing with the unemployed while not improving their employment chances.
- Therefore the time, costs and attention required to be on benefits greatly reduces the same spent on producing and developing creative output.
- Everyone is being forced to focus on the narrowing pool of opportunities to earn a living before getting involved with any other activities.
- Lack of surplus income to get out and meet other people to be creative with.
- Closure of places that gather people to carry out creative activities.
- Closure of creative activity in the education system.
- Emphasis in the education system on academic activities, even in the creative arts, which excludes the skills and learning styles of people with a creative profile.
- The resulting loss of taxable income from the lack of opportunity for creative output.
- The redirection of money away from the creative industries due to lack of creative output.
Out of these conditions, I would personally say that someone wanting to enter music, art, drama, film or any other creative industry may want to consider a life course by replicating the life conditions of those who have become successful from previous decades.
This could mean avoiding some of the widely accepted pathways, which won’t result in the best circumstances to pursue a creative path.
Unfortunately, it seems, a lot of learning is tied up in the formal academic process, with a huge reduction in City and Guilds, HNDs or apprenticeships. Even the Postgrad certificate I did in 1997 was skills based, not academic.
Therefore, how would the creative, non-academic person fare best today? How can we ensure we have a productive, creative industry for the future?
As Cath Kitson said in an interview, to paraphrase, while her friends were at college (this is before the introduction of course fees) she was out working in retail earning £100 a week.
I, personally, having thought about this a lot, would suggest:
- Getting involved in your local radio station who might offer some free training and experience doing a radio show.
- Fully exploring work opportunities to get into any job as soon after leaving education as possible. (Reading: Stephen King’s book on writing, in which he was doing 2 jobs until his writing started to take off).
- Don’t just follow the herd to university. Seriously weigh up all the factors and ask other people for their ideas open mindedly. Don’t make your mind up because of peer or parental pressure. Become good at making your own choices best on what you find is best for you.
- Finding places to meet other people with same interests and abilities to start working with.
Applying Yourself (list continued):
- Applying yourself to your chosen creative activities.
- Put any money you acquire into the things you need for your creative work (rather than spending it all on drink etc).
- Don’t get sidetracked by too many fun but unproductive activities in your precious free time.
- Have realistic expectations of your bread and butter job, but of course learn how to not be exploited or mistreated. (Useful throughout working life).
- Tip for above: learn how to ask questions in interviews to find out about your employer and working conditions to see if you would like to work for them.
- (When you get good at tip above, interviewers will start falling over each other to get you as they will be in the hot seat having to sell themselves to you).
- Review the factual (not media) histories of established artists in your chosen area to look for clues on how to find your best way forward.
- Become good at working with other people.
- Become good at empowering other people to help you by finding out what they want to achieve/what they can get out of working with you.
- Gauge the stage you are at accurately.
- Stay humble and don’t assume anyone owes you anything.
- Get good at doing everything as economically as possible. This doesn’t mean cutting corners or employing false economies. Learn the difference. This again involves team work.
- Set up events, get people involved, publicise these events, create your own opportunities.
- Have a steady output of work in 3 stages: 1. to get a reaction, 2. to widen your audience 3. to reach success.
Well that’s all I’ve got time for. Please send in comments as this is all just an open debate of ideas.