the small scale end of the music industry is fucked isn't it

@sean and the DiS page shared this on facebook, here’s my comment

nothing much will change

the major labels don’t give a shit cos they’ve now adapted to the new world, they’re back to making lots of money

the tories don’t give a shit, they see no reason to spend any government money on the arts even in good times and even more so in the hyper austerity that’s coming from the double whammy of coronavirus and brexit unemployment/general economic mess etc.

the general public don’t give a shit cos there’s more than enough music out there to enjoy for free

meanwhile, the ecosystem underneath it all, the small venues, the bands who play them, and everything/everyone that’s connected will get fucked to oblivion economically, then they’ll all be told to either find a new job or starve

as with a lot of other things, coronavirus isn’t completely changing things but is accelerating existing trends

One thing that isn’t mentioned in the article is the fact that this is absolutely going to exacerbate the issue that only people who come from wealthy backgrounds will be able to support themselves in creative industries like music.

Already a huge majority of musicians right across different genres (at least in London) come from upper class backgrounds and have some level of wealth behind them because it’s difficult to be a full-time musician or producer and pay rent. Anyone who doesn’t sit in that bracket of having rich parents, and isn’t going to be able to play live for a while, isn’t going to be a musician anymore.


excellent point that links to various other issues

several of my mates who work in creative/freelance jobs top up their income through market research, all of that has stopped and hard to know what state it will be in in the future

it’s well known that a lot of people who need flexible work alongside creative projects will work in pubs, and they’re fucked just like the small music venues are

competition for all jobs is gonna go up when unemployment rockets, so anyone who’s looking to work alongside a creative project could struggle to find it, even if they’re well qualified

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was thinking about how many bands used to support themselves with the dole recently. think I discussed it with wwwwo once

great post

The policies that Thatcher and Reagan used to control inflation were expected to cause massive unemployment so they made it as easy as possible to sign on and the 80s punk scene developed in part because of this. I can also remember someone a couple of years older who did the same course as me but graduated in 2008, he was able to join some kind of government scheme that meant he could fund himself and make music. No way there will be any equivalent help over the next few years.


yeah basically every 80s punk/diy/whatever else bands I’ve read interviews with mention it, it does seem to have been essential to them

remember stewart lee talking about this too come to think of it, guess it was the same probably in every artistic endevour

also kept the unemployment figures artificially low as there was a specific benefit you claimed, you got £30 a week or whatever and the govt pretended you had a job.


Yeah you used to be able to be self employed and claim tax credit of £50 a week (or something) if you were making music but making no money off it


Universal basic income would be a great benefit in this respect but it’s probably further away from being a reality now.

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quick poll, partly to find out who’s reading this

if the government would pay you enough money for very cheap rent, food, bills etc. so a very basic cost of actual living while you made art

you would, at the age of 19ish

  • go with that
  • choose to try and earn more elsewhere

0 voters

Love this question

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and I love that you’d said this after voting the opposite to me

I am certainly not 19 anymore so plenty of variation possible due to age of people if nothing else

I mean it wouldn’t have been for me, but I really think from personal experiences one massive hole in UK culture is that whatever you want to do it has to make enough cash to live off. It would be such a huge benefit if you could support musicians and other people to do what they want for a bit. Or you know like run a bike repair shop or a co-working space or a left-wing gym or whatever.

Alexander McQueen paid for his first collection through claiming the dole.

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When I was 19 and in a position to do so there’s no way I’d have considered it, but I would now at the age of 43 (although not in a position to do so)

Weird thing about this is that it really wouldn’t take much, probably just a few linguistic changes, to make some form of universal basic income Tory policy.

I mean basically this is just support for establishing small business. Could be arts, could be any enterprise; just give people an opportunity to create something by providing very small amounts of seed funding. But instead we have a Tory party that is nothing to do with opportunity or dynamism in the economy or valuing skills, education or enterprise; and is all about entrenching existing wealth.

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I’ve done it and it was an entirely worthwhile experience.

I had worked for two large multinationals after university, along with a number of other jobs and when I left the second one in 2015 I said “Fuck it” and claimed the Irish dole for a while.

€188 a week and basically all I had to do was call in for an appointment every few weeks to say I was looking for work. In the meantime I was gigging every week, mostly in Cork and recording music with a few groups, while also DJ-ing and helping out with shows. I helped run a community arts co-op too.

It wasn’t entirely legal as I was taking cash in hand for the work I was doing but I was able to live on it and contribute hugely to the arts in my city, something I continue to do this day even through I’m working full time.

Being on the dole is the only way most of the musicians and artists I know were able to survive for a long time while working on their craft. A lot of them have full time jobs in the arts now, whether the jobs are in Ireland or in the EU. It’s an almost mandatory experience for those in the arts here.

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I used to work in a call centre in central london and there was a shit ton of artists there.

some people were like me, just young drifters (I kept talking about music, but never actually did anything, I just got pissed and made hundreds of friends cos staff turnover was sometimes 50 people a week)

but there were plenty of people (like @pip ) who were genuinely doing art/music alongside the flexible part time work on offer

it was brutal though, there were actors there doing unpaid theatre rehearsals for 30+ hours a week while also trying to do enough shifts to not starve.

even a small amount of cash would’ve made it so much easier for people to stick at it

eventually I just started working my up and now work in an office job. thing is, the stability I now have actually means I’m back to doing music. the precarious lifestyle never worked for me… maybe I just didn’t want it enough, who knows

as you may have read, in the article in the OP was this

the Irish government is looking after artists and unemployed people really well. We’ve stopped paying ourselves because our income is from live music in effect and we’re getting €350 (£320) a week from the government, which is totally survivable.

do you know if this is exactly the same for anyone who’s unemployed/lacking income or are there specific schemes for artists?

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This chimes with my experience as well. A lot of my friends in Cork worked seasonally in Amazon or contact centres for other big firms just to get by while pursuing their art, whether that was music, poetry, sculpting, whatever.

I find now that I have a reliable, full time job I’m able to get more done. I have money to keep my gear well maintained, to be able to buy new strings and patch cables, to be able to buy a car to get me to gigs. None of that was available to me previously.

This is a blanket payment for those who have been rendered unemployed by the Covid-19 pandemic. What a lot of people don’t realise is that it’s a taxable source of income so a lot of folk are going to be pretty fucked when they’re asked to pay part of it back later in the year!

The Irish government would never announce something as useful as support for artists. We have one of the least well funded arts sectors in the EU, which is fucking mind boggling given the amount of successful artists in every field that come out of Ireland year after year. We’re continually swimming against the tide in Ireland and succeeding despite our circumstances.