This is the final instructor-led online discussion of the semester! You’ll be graded on this assignment as you have been for all previous online discussions, and the assignment description you received in class is available here.

Online discussion #8 is open for comments April 16-22.


 

As with all aspects of music and music making, the economics of classical music vary from place to place and across historical periods. This discussion is an introduction to the trajectory of music history in the West (i.e., Europe and North America) for the few hundred years our course material covers. If any of this material is review for you, this in opportunity to incorporate a layer of music to your background knowledge! If you haven’t taken a history or economics course that covers these topics, use the embedded links throughout the blog post to fill in gaps in your understanding.

But, economics in a music class?

Economic factors—such as who has money, how much they have, how they spend it, and why they spend it—determine the way that music is made, what it sounds like, who listens to it, and the circumstances in which people experience music. They lurk behind all the various musical sounds we hear, and knowing a little bit of economic history can give our ears insight into the how and why behind much of the music we encounter.

There is no art without economics. Music, just as with the other arts, requires monetary support. This includes funding for obvious things like supplies (instruments and repairs, scores, paper, rehearsal space), education, and training costs. It also includes less obvious things such as some degree of financial comfort — without, for example, the stability of a warm home and food, a person is less likely to be able to devote time and energy towards making music because their attention is focused on fulfilling more basic needs. (This idea comes from Abraham Maslow’s 1943 article “A Theory of Human Motivation.”)

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Abraham Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. We have to fulfill the lowest layers of the pyramid first before we turn our attention to the highest ones; music creation would be in the top indigo section.

 

The patronage system

For most of the European continent’s history, the countries we think of as being “European” didn’t exist—e.g., France, Germany, Italy. Instead, the land was divided into multi-ethnic empires, city-states, and nomadic groups. Nations as we now know them were established in the late-18th and 19th centuries as a way to unify groups of people who shared a linguistic heritage and other common cultural features, along with geographic proximity. Kings existed, but they didn’t hold the real power (meaning wealth, military strength, or direct control of the land where food was produced); real power was wielded by aristocrats (noblemen with various titles: duke, viscount, baron, earl, lord, prince) or the Catholic Church.

And everyone else? The majority of the population consisted of peasants, and they worked in the fields generating the wealth of said aristocrats.

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Experts at communicating their socio-economic status

Part of the value of being wealthy and powerful is letting other people know that you’re wealthy and powerful. It creates a sense of respect, a healthy dose of fear, and a social class identity. One of the ways that the aristocracy and the Church were able to demonstrate their might was with the art that they commissioned, displayed, and controlled: they were the patrons of the arts, and the patronage system was the economic structure in which art was produced for these patrons. (A great background to the division of societies into people who produce food, rulers, and artisans/religious figures who consolidate those rulers’ power is the 1999 book Guns, Germs, and Steel by Jared Diamond).

Art (including music) wasn’t just a pleasant diversion or pastime under the patronage system—it was part of PR and image control for those in positions of power: a status symbol.

Architecture, for example, was used to demonstrate might and financial resources.

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Esterhazy, the Hungarian country estate of the Duke of Esterhaza, who employed the composer Joseph Haydn.
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The cathedral (duomo) of Siena, built 1215-1348

 

The visual arts captured a patron’s image for posterity. They often include not only sumptuous attire (rich fabrics, intense colors, and intricate details) but also depictions of music making, because it was believed by members of the noble classes that musical talent and musical taste proved how worthy a person was. (Remember, most noblemen and noblewomen learned to play an instrument as a hobby.)

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The Lady and the Unicorn tapestry (woven detail excerpt, late 15th century)

 

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Le Roman de la Rose (1500)
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Princess Henriette of France (1727-52), painted by Jean-Marc Nattier (1685-1766)

 

To be a musician under the patronage system meant to hold a job post at a patron’s center of power: a cathedral or an aristocratic court. This form of employment was a lifelong commitment, and a musician would earn a salary and also receive a uniform, be provided with supplies to make their art (staff paper, ink, instruments), and be housed and fed (including firewood for the winter). A musician’s duties were often extensive: a composer would also be required to teach, perform, and oversee other subordinate musicians (hiring and firing). In return, the patron had final say on everything their employee did: travelling, permission to sell sheet music, and what music was made (more on that below). Johann Sebastian Bach’s contract with the town of Leipzig, where he was in charge of composing music, rehearsing music, and coordinating musicians for the town’s four churches was typical of the time: bach-duties-in-leipzig It was also often in a patron’s best interest to allow their musicians to travel and publish sheet music—the fame and respectability of their employee would reflect positively on the patron and add more prestige to their reputation.

Economics, taste, and self-expression

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The baryton, a 19-string instrument played by Hadyn’s patron and almost no one else

Music written for a patron was designed to suit the needs or taste of the patron. If the patron loves the baryton (as Haydn’s patron did), a composer will write a lot of music for the baryton (Haydn wrote 72 trios for the instrument, even though no one else was doing it anywhere in the world). If a patron loves dance music (like King Louis XIV of France), then their composers and musicians need to be really good at creating and playing dance music. If a composer writes music their patron doesn’t like, the patron will tell them not to write like that any more, and that will be the end of that.

Something that you may find disconcerting or uncomfortable at this point is the realization that much music that exists in the world isn’t written for personal expression—it’s a job. The contour of a melody, the emotions conveyed by the harmony, or the instruments used aren’t necessarily an expression of the composer’s desires, just what he knew would keep him employed—they express the taste preferences of whoever was footing his bills.

The rise of nation states and shift to free-market capitalism

We don’t live in strict patronage system any longer, and that makes it seem like musicians are free to create whatever they music they want—they don’t have to please a king or aristocrat who is their lifelong employer. Bring on the self-expression!

Not so fast…

The shifting political-economic landscape in late-18th and 19th centuries simply means that music is now treated in a different way. The musician’s role in society becomes one of selling goods that the public may or may not buy. Public taste is volatile (particularly when ideas are able to spread more and more quickly, as the Internet now allows), and this means that some musicians try to suit public taste (for example, commercial jingles, soundtracks, and pop music) while others simply make what they want to make, with complete disregard to whether or not consumers like it.

“The people who don’t want your music don’t change their minds. You outlive them, if you’re lucky.”
—Philip Glass, composer (b. 1937)

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Ludwig van Beethoven, a composer not directly employed under the patronage system

Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1832) navigated this economic transition by using both the patronage system and the emerging capitalist markets to his advantage. He threatened three Viennese aristocrats (who loved his music and loved having him in their city) with a job offer he had received to join a court outside of Vienna. Under fear of losing him, these aristocrats caved to his threat and agreed to pay him a healthy annual subsidy to remain in the city with no other strings attached. Beethoven also shrewdly published his music simultaneously in multiple countries at once—there was no such thing as copyright law at this point, so if Beethoven had sold his work to an Austrian publisher, for example, there was nothing stopping a French publisher from copying it and selling it themselves. Beethoven’s business acumen beat them to the punch and took advantage of the fact that he was well-known across Europe, with consumers everywhere clamoring for his music.

Musicians today: the gig economy

An ideal situation for many modern musicians is holding a steady position with either an orchestra (as a performer or conductor) or a university or conservatory (teaching composition, performance, music theory, music history, or some combination of those subjects). The best jobs in these fields pay quite well, but there aren’t very many opportunities to go around. The next few paragraphs deal with orchestral performers, but the same issues are true for composers and professorships.

In class we read a 2012 article (dorris-the-audition) that described the  lengthy, exhausting process of preparing for orchestral auditions: how much time it takes, what a player does to prepare, how they earn a living while trying to win a job, what happens after they win a job, how few jobs there are, and how much money orchestral musicians make. It is an easy read and features Mike Tetrault, an orchestral percussionist.

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Jane Little (1929-2016), who played bass in the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra for 71 years.

Musicians in the top US orchestras earn around $100,000 per year (depending on where the orchestra is located; players in Alabama earn less than those in Chicago, for example), and that shows how valuable and rare high quality orchestral playing skills are. There are very few top orchestras, however, and there are only 20 orchestras in the US whose average salaries are over $55,000 per year.

Demand for these jobs is high. There are 117 symphony orchestras in the US. That means there are approximately 11,700 orchestral job positions in the US, assuming each orchestra has 100 players, which is an over-estimate. But that’s not the same as saying there are 11,700 job openings there are every year, because once someone wins a good orchestral job, they hold onto it for 30-40 years. For flute players, for example, there were only 4 job openings in the US in all of 2015-16.

There are approximately 60 college-level music schools or conservatories in the US, and they typically train musicians to enter a specialized career trajectory of being an orchestral player or opera singer. Each school will graduate a class of around 150 students each year —that’s 9,000 students every year.

Add all those graduating students to the musicians who haven’t won an orchestral job yet (say, 8,975 from every previous year), plus international musicians…

Uh-oh.

The typical modern musician’s career is a prime example of the gig economy: cobbling together a living wage from several small revenue streams, none of which is sufficient on its own, none of which provides benefits like health insurance or retirement savings, and none of which is guaranteed to continue.

  • Concerts— Musicians may be paid by a venue or concert series for their appearance, they may take home ticket sales, or their performance may be organized by a management company. A concert payment for a musician can range from $0 to $4,000, but most concert performances pay $100-750 per player. This also includes many orchestral jobs outside of the top orchestras, which are paid “per service” rather than a salary (around $40 per rehearsal and $150 per performance).
  • Commissions— Composers charge commissioning fees when someone asks them to write a work. Rates depend on the length of the piece (longer = more expensive), the number of musicians (more musicians = more expensive), and how famous the composer is (more famous = more expensive). The commission fee may range from $2,000 to $100,000, depending on these factors. Often, groups of performers will form a consortium to commission a work and divide cost among all members, so that no single player has to bear the weight of the entire expensive commission themselves.
  • Teaching private lessons— A musician recruits students to take individual lessons (in performance, conducting, or composition), finds space to teach in, prepares lessons for each student’s individual needs and desires, keeps students and parents happy, and organizes performance opportunities for their students. The cost of a one-hour lesson varies based on geography and teacher: $15 (in Texas and the Midwest), $60-75 (typical in NYC), $225 (for lessons with the most famous teachers in NYC).
  • Teaching in community music schools— All the work of recruitment and infrastructure (and sometimes curriculum) is taken care of by the school rather than the teacher, but the teacher earns less per hour (in NYC students pay around $70, but much of it goes to the school itself and the teacher takes home around $40). There are several such schools in NYC: Brooklyn Conservatory of MusicLucy Moses School at the Kaufman CenterBloomingdale School of MusicThird Street Music School, and Turtle Bay Music School.
  • Teaching primary education— This includes band directors, orchestra directors, and choir directors in elementary, middle, and high schools.
  • Teaching secondary education— Most college and university instructors teach at more than one campus, and most positions are adjunct (hired just for that class or semester with no guarantee of being rehired).
  • Grant writing — There are several foundations and government organizations that support the arts and music making, and they award money (ranging from a couple hundred dollars to millions of dollars, depending on the organization) for the creation and public sharing of artistic work via a competitive application process. Here’s a taste of what grant writing is all about.

It takes a lot of these activities to add up to a living wage, and booking one gig doesn’t guarantee that there will be more work in the future. Many musicians work “day jobs” that allow them to practice, rehearse, and gig at night: dog walker, yoga instructor, grant writer, administrative assistant, baby sitter, paralegal, plumber, or insurance salesman. Sometimes these day jobs take over, and a musician stops being a musician entirely.

Online streaming: the promised land!

You may have noticed that I left out online streaming as a source of revenue for the average classical musician working today. That’s because it typically doesn’t pay well for anyone, regardless of their musical style—the average pay is $0.0025 per play—less than a penny.

When musician’s recordings are played on various digital platforms, we as consumers generally pay little or nothing for the experience. YouTube, Spotify, and Pandora all include advertising on their basic levels of service (free for the consumer); it seems like artists are probably compensated for their work through ad revenue and that popular artists make significant money for their efforts because so many people are listening to their music. However, these business models pay musicians very little: Spotify pays between $0.006 to $0.0084 per play; Pandora pays either $0.0014 (non-subscribers) or $0.0025 (subscribers) per play—and depending on an artist’s contract with their record label, they’ll receive only around 40% of that money. The songwriter for “All About that Bass,” sung by Meghan Trainor, is Kevin Kadish. The song was unequivocally popular in 2014 and was played 178 million times on Pandora, but for this Kadish received a check for $5,679; another songwriter whose work was played just over one million times was paid $16.89. The less-popular but still successful band La Roux earns approximately £100 for three months of streaming. Taylor Swift doesn’t include her music in Spotify’s streaming catalogue for this very reason—it devalues the art:

“Music is art, and art is important and rare. Important, rare things are valuable. Valuable things should be paid for. It’s my opinion that music should not be free.”

It’s also worth noting that Swift is in a position of considerable privilege–she can reject the means by which less-established or less well-known artists connect with new listeners because she is already successful and also because she makes money via other avenues, such as ticket sales for her live shows.

streaming-sites

The irony of recorded music being ubiquitous in our lives (meaning that we can’t imagine our daily activities without it and that we prize its perfection) is that it seems we value it less than ever.

Final thoughts

Making music is more complicated than just being inspired and sharing sounds with the world. Oftentimes the most financially successful musicians aren’t necessarily the most talented, the most interesting, or the most artistic—they’re the ones whose skills (musical and business skills) aligned with the economic demands of the time and place in which they live. The music we’re left with over time is the music that was created in courts and churches that had the means to fund and preserve copies of sheet music over several centuries (not necessarily the best music), and the music we come across on the radio or digital media is often also the result of a musician being aligned with record companies, management, or promoters who have the economic clout to ensure that their music is heard (again, not necessarily the best musicians).

-Dr. J.

 

110 thoughts on “The economics of music making (Online discussion #8)

  1. it was very interesting to read about the amounts of money that people from the orchestra makes.to me it never seemed like a big deal kind of job because their are so many people on one stage playing together but as I continued to read it explained how there aren’t that many openings to do this job and how competitive this job can be and it can also be rare to get newcomers to join the orchestras because the same people can stay there for over two decades. it makes sense the amount of money they make per year because of all the hard work and long hours they put in to doing their job.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I agree with what you mentioned about thinking that being in an orchestra wasn’t a big deal until reading about it. I think it’s because we’re just focused on what is being done and we’re not thinking about the process and everything that comes along with an orchestra. It’s a lot of work, takes alot of talent and time and dedication.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. This was so interesting to read to see how musicians make their money from touring and concerts which have been going on for decades, but it’s crazy now how online streaming has taken over the world and pure sales is basically dead and how musicians now get these high numbers and now are being compared to legends. I read an article the other day that The Migos broke The Beatles record, crazy musicians have it easy now all because of streaming. Same for orchestras

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  3. I think this was a great article with so much information. I feel like it reminded us on how much effort and money being a musician can take. You don’t just wake up one day and automatically call yourself a musician. If it were that easy anyone would do it. The reality is that in order to move on in life and succeed, you need to have money and you need to have connections. Although we may not what to say money is everything, but money is needed for everything to succeed. To start your career you need money, you need money to go to school, to have a home, to eat etc. It is also interesting how art plays a role in music. Architecture can definitely show If you’re in a higher or lower class. What you’re wearing also does, or how you carry yourself. It’s always the littlest things and sometimes that can suck.

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    1. I agree with the way you carry yourself also shows what class your in but then again you also have those higher ups and act like they are low class people. So it goes both ways.

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    2. I agree completely. The most successful artists in our world today had the means to get to where they are because of either a prestigious background or their connections to the music industry. Its unfortunate that in our world, we deem the most popular artists as the best, when there’s plenty of hardworking and truly inspirational artists out there who should receive a fair split. Involves a lot less creativity, and a lot more assets at your disposal.

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    3. Yea you make interesting point the money can change the way art is made is rather ironic and sad. But would anyone make music without compensation ? What about the artist on the subways ?

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  4. I always knew making music is expensive because I have friends who make music and produce it. On top of that it’s time consuming because of everything around you but this article really blew my mind. It’s crazy to think back then you basically didn’t make the music you wanted because it was a job, your patron decided what they wanted. I also figured artists didn’t get paid much for streams online but I never knew it was that low, now I understand why some artists don’t allow their music to hit Apple Music or other similar streams. Can’t believe I’m going to say this too but for the first time I agree with Taylor Swift, I wouldn’t want my music up like that too if it’s something more deserving.

    Liked by 2 people

      1. I can understand where if all the resources were available at your fingertips music would be more expansive, but for the true innovation of music I think the lack of having resources forces a certain creativity, for example, we wouldn’t have hip-hop without sampling off of a turntable let alone the idea of just taking drum breaks.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. It’ll be much more diverse, especially if the music they played paid their bills. I heard about how many main-stream pop stars don’t even write their own music, they’re just made to sing it.

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  5. when I read this reading I was surprised that in the USA the musicians are not paid so good because I thought that this is only in the third countries that artists are not paid well.Even I saw the teachers of music are not getting that much because the schools got most of it.

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  6. why the government doesn’t think about the financial stability of the artists. Almost everyone enjoys music, there should be more opportunities for them to grow.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. My question do you think there would ever be a change with the online streaming since it makes everything easier.

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    1. I think it will, but unfortunately I think this would not be in a positive or convenient way for any artist. As technology advances many workplaces are going down and at the end the result is what we are seen now, renowned stores for many years are closing down.

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    2. yeah, its changing everyday the best example is how jay z teamed up with sprint to sell his latest album 4:44. what he did was made a deal with sprint that they buy a million copies to give them there customers for free. but since sprint brought a million copy jay z went platinum the same day it came out lol.

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      1. Wow that’s a really cool fact. I actually signed up with sprint last year and i assume it was during their partnership because it came with half a year with his streaming company TIDAL.

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  8. I wonder if we didn’t have the patronage system back then, how many musicians would there be? Because not everyone was able to be under that system. You were lucky if you were under it. But what happened to the ones who had talent but just wasn’t able to succeed due to money?

    Liked by 1 person

  9. For some reason I felt I was making a decision over my future with those numbers ($$$).
    Really impressing, it’s not only about singing but all the work behind. Singers, composers or instrument players not only bring their talent, but also long hours of training, practicing and effort. I never considered music as a way for living, but after reading this article I really admired to all the artists that more than because of the money they do this for passion.
    However and sadly, we are becoming every day a more materialistic and technological world which does not really leave many opportunities for talent. It’s sad to see how artists ( which ate the end are also people with needs) don’t receive fair pay for their work.

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  10. Do you think that the way that music is now a days considered and valued is not specifically because of the talent or as art?

    Why?

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  11. my question is I understand that musicians own their own music but once its officially out there just like it’s so simple to get songs on youtube for free why can’t the people that own these websites like Spotify and all that how come they don’t have the right to put these artists songs up? it should be free for the taking if its on youtube

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  12. @chava19. Sure, what I mean is that; do you think that now a days music in general, the artist either the singer or composer, or the instrument player are considered and valued for their talent or their music as art?

    I’m asking why because I think; if Beethoven was alive, would he be making the same money as others “artists” from this days?

    Liked by 1 person

  13. I am not sure I don’t say every artist ability is not recognized because there are some singers or artists who are making money because of their good skills but there are a lot maybe who are not but they should.as a legendary and passionate person, Beethoven was he would be famous and rich these days because he was too much involved in his work.He was extraordinary.

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  14. The musical artists of the past did not have the amount of musical freedom that is present today. They would have to play the type of music that the patron wanted to play. The musicians of the past had little to no influence on the type of music they played and their creativity was stifled.

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    1. Hi @rydalsingh thats an interesting question speaking just based off of my opinion I believe there are some artists that stay true to themselves and don’t care what others will say or think of them they will only write from the heart and what they feel and what they love regardless if it will be the best or not the best song out there. that being said there are also a great amount of artists that I assume even if their not crazy about a song if their agents or whoever deals with there music says this will make a big hit I believe they would put their personal feelings towards the song aside and go with what they believe will be better for them in the long run.

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    2. @rydalsingh
      I think they make whatever music that pays the bills.Whether that is something that appeals to others or themselves.

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  15. This reading was very interesting to read however, it was even more interesting to read about the amount of money people make from Orchestra. I’ve never thought about this until I read this article and what its like to be a musician under the patronage system but they don’t live in that anymore so they are free to create whatever music they want.

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  16. I didn’t know making music can be so difficult but once get use to it I believe it would be easy for you but you don’t know what can happen because they are so many rude in the music industry.

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    1. I feel like a lot of those artists who are talented but don’t have the funds to support their dreams merely just move on. They put their talent on the back burner in order to work a 9-5

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      1. @xstaclear I feel that artist who are truly passionate not just talented , hustle and use what they have to get to where they want to get to, or make certain connections they need to make in order to keep their dream alive. I do agree that people do give up, and the saddest thing in the world is wasted talent.

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  17. This can be similar to other activities, but when you first start out your not perfect in doing the activity, but after some time with it you start to get better and better at it.

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  18. At the end of the day showing true creativity in music is rough. With thousands of genre’s out there in the world, how expressive and original can you truly be without blending to a certain style? Maybe a large portion of these 18th century composers submitted to their aristocrats because of the notion that originality in music is only to an extent, so what’s so wrong with curving your style for the resemblance of others? What do you guys think?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. @dariyushadi98 I don’t think theres anything wrong with curving your style for the resemblance of others . However, if everyone else does the same exact thing I feel it eventually dilutes authenticity . Creativity in music is rough and yes you may have to blend to a certain style or genre but I feel it is significant to have a quality that separates you from the rest.

      Liked by 2 people

  19. Also very fascinating read. A few things I hadn’t considered about the music business that shed some light on the process of becoming a popular and successful musician. I also agree with the pyramid as well. With majority of society in the 18th century being poor, there was no time nor hope to become a musician. Only the one’s living lavishly at the top had the means to create the music we listen to.

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  20. This week’s online discussion was very informational. Two things I found interesting was the patronage system and online streaming. The patronage system took me back a bit because it shows during those times, even if you were talented and didn’t have a patron it was no way you would be a successful musician. But then the patron themselves didn’t work to make the money they possessed. The money was from the hard work of the “peasants”. So in my opinion, music would of never been supported if it wasn’t for the hard work of the peasants. Now the online streaming information was mind-blowing. I can recall the time when Chance the rapper first came out about avoiding selling music and would rather online stream because putting a price on music is making his music limited rather than connecting to his audience. Which is the totally opposite of how Taylor Swift feels but I would love to reason why she feels that music needs a price tag to be valuable. Let alone But understanding this history of economics in music making shows money was a factor.

    My question is: Should musicians/artists be more concerned with sales rather than their music being heard and appreciated? or If you were a inspired musician during the patronage system, would you dedicate yourself to one person preference of the music you should make, and why?

    Below is a article of Chance the Rapper thoughts on online streaming:
    https://www.vanityfair.com/hollywood/2017/02/why-chance-the-rapper-music-is-free-and-how-he-makes-money

    Liked by 1 person

  21. This article was a fun read. even though am not surprised so much about the orchestra struggling to get job because it only makes sense its like sports its super competitive your not just get the on the team and stop practicing. and the coach is not about to pick a player even if hes better because your player is more experienced, you can be best player at practice or at the park but when its showtime its whole different level.
    The thing about streaming is wrong. streaming is the best thing for the new artists because after 1500 streams it equals a album sale. think of it like this post Malone dropped an album in 2016 and its still sales 10,000-25,000 because of streaming. streaming is a cheat code imagine if Eminem had streaming back in 2002 he sold a million copies FIRST WEEK. after you buy the album he no longer gets any money vs streaming he does. The classical genre is a dying genre so of course they wont get money anyone doing classical music has to know that. that has to be more of a passion thing which is respectable but still you would probably be wasting more money then your making.

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    1. Ochestra are very important they persurve something valuable about time periods. I think to increase job and maintain interest more money should be put into orchestra.

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  22. Which would rather be in 2018? A super popular rapper/pop artist (Drake,Rihanna) or a super popular classical artist (???) and why?

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    1. Definitely a super popular rap/pop artist because that is just whats in style now. If you’re going to do something in music you want the most people possible listening to your creations. No disrespect to the classical music, but it has had its time. Although we still appreciate its importance and value to the culture, there is a bigger audience in 2018 for a rap/pop artists.

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  23. When it comes to music on digital services, Apple Music is one of few subscribing services without a free option to listen to music (meaning that you only have to pay). When it started in 2016, it had 10 million subscribers. Two years later, it grew to currently 40 million subscribers. But when it comes to competition, Spotify has 70 million paying subscribers, 30 million more than Apple. I think that these streaming services need to rethink about how can they give money back to the singers and songwriters so that they have a even share of the profits.

    Liked by 1 person

  24. I’d say when it comes to economics in music, it’s definitely a factor whether you’re the performing musician or someone like an engineer or a producer working behind the scenes it’s not necessarily a career choice that’s easy to thrive in since everything isn’t guaranteed. But in this modern era where it’s possible to be an entrepreneur, the music business has changed heavily. Prior to this era in the mid to late 2010s, any artist that wanted to sample music knew that they were taking major risks especially since their work isn’t cleared. Nowadays we have new business outlets to provide producers and musicians with royalty-free samples in which they compose musical compositions as well as drum breaks for sampling in which that makes it easier for a musician to create the music they want without too much hassle in the business and legal end. This month also a new service known as Tracklib was just released. Tracklib is the new thing for the future of music production since it’s a service that helps to make sample clearance a more reasonable process because they’re using actual samples from actual artists so that the producer can use the actual music without having too many issues with trying to clear the music.

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    1. What I see as the next step in a way that the music industry can monetize and earn revenue is the more available streaming services that are becoming more prevalent in our society today. Listener’s nowadays seem to want to be able to have exposure to new music in a fast and easily accessible means. That means being able to log on and find a new song with a click a mouse rather than having to travel to a record store to pick up a CD. I hope this answers your question. What do you think is the next step in innovation for the music industry?

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    2. @slickguru211
      What I see as the next step in a way that the music industry can monetize and earn revenue is the more available streaming services that are becoming more prevalent in our society today. Listener’s nowadays seem to want to be able to have exposure to new music in a fast and easily accessible means. That means being able to log on and find a new song with a click a mouse rather than having to travel to a record store to pick up a CD. I hope this answers your question. What do you think is the next step in innovation for the music industry?

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  25. I’ve found it very interesting how throughout history, music has been something that wealthier people have had access too creating but “musician” hasn’t been a “more noble” profession. I find it crazy how a lot of musical grad students won’t be able to find a job due to the market.

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    1. While I don’t agree with Taylor Swift’s stance in removing her music from streaming services, I can see where she’s coming from in a business standpoint. To play devil’s advocate, by removing her music from services like Spotify, she’s making it harder to access her music. Obviously, this is negative to us as consumers, but to the business (Taylor Swift herself) this is fantastic. By limiting how we access her music, we now HAVE to buy her album or song from itunes or go out and buy a physical copy of her CD. Normally this would be a risky move, wouldn’t limiting how your product is distributed be a stupid and risky move? Well, in Taylor Swift’s case there isn’t a risk. She has the pedigree of being one of the most popular musicians in the world today. This makes her music something in high demand, a hot commodity. By limiting how we can listen to her music, she has essentially created a situation where she wins because we have to go out and purchase her music.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. @xstalclear
      “IN NOVEMBER last year, Taylor Swift withdrew most of her music from Spotify, complaining that the music-streaming service made her music available to all users, not just paying subscribers. She had previously called Spotify’s payments to musical artists—on average less than a penny per song—stingy. Nor is Spotify the only one to attract Swiftian scorn: she has withheld her latest album, “1989”, from Apple’s new music-streaming service, describing their free, three-month trial period, in which artists would get no royalties, as “shocking” and “disappointing” on Tumblr.” https://www.economist.com/blogs/prospero/2015/09/music-business
      According to this article I would have to agree with her. Do you like to work for free? I think in this case this particular streaming service did devalue her music.

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  26. I want to start out by stating that this week’s reading was something that has been on my head for a long time. We often see the success of many popular musicians, that we tend to look past the indie musicians and small time musicians that are trying to make a name for themselves. These people do not have to luxury or exposure that mainline musicians have. With this in mind, it is interesting and sad to see how these musicians struggle in finding success while balancing bills and trying to find a successful music career.

    First, the part of the reading where it is explained how economics is a part in every form of art is one of my favorite reads of this post. Looking at economic factors such as paying off bills, providing perishables for yourself, and making sure you have a warm bed to sleep in at night can be something that is often overlooked when pursuing a “hobby” career. The idea that monetary support is a priority in a musician or any artist’s life, speaks volumes of how important of a role economics play in the world of art. By further stating that without a stable income, ideas and creativity is hindered is just too much to bear. This statement just forces upon us that the spark of creativity that one has can easily be snuffed out due to financial troubles is just too depressing. The talent and skill that a musician has honed is means nothing if they can’t find a comfortable place to keep them safe at night.

    Secondly, Economics expands further than just paying bills for present day artists and musicians. Reading further into the discussion, we see the idea of a patronage system. This was a system that was put into place by the wealthy to show that they were wealthy. Essentially the rich were able to funnel their funds and resources for artists to create grand structures and paintings, this in turn is a way that the artists were earning a profit for themselves. Why would the wealthy do that? Well it is simply explained by the idea that the wealthy is obligated to flex their wealth, to show the world and their peers that they had money. This is expanded into the world of music as the rich were able to distinguish their status class by letting people know the type of music that they were involved in. In the post, it even states that nobles were judged by their “musical talent”, as if their worth of nobility was based on how well they can play a certain instrument.

    Lastly, the part of the discussion that answers most of the questions I had coming into this reading was found near the end, at the section titled “Musicians today: the gig economy”. This section made me turn back and think about the reading we did in class about the musician who practiced non-stop in hopes of making it into the Boston Orchestra. We see here that Musicians in some of the most successful and well-known orchestras can make up to $100,000 per year. While this is a high paying salary, it is important to note that this was extremely rare and reserved only for the top percent of musicians in the top percent of orchestras. Upon further reading, there is a breakdown of how musicians typically earned their wage and it seemed like a difficult time to make ends meet. Musicians push themselves with having teach lessons, play concerts, and even play on commission. This all seems like it’s a monumental amount of effort and high risk for pursuing a musical career.

    Final notes, I really admire the dedication and effort musicians put into their passion. They push themselves and takes risks to trying and advance their career doing something they love. They are willing to put up with harsh living conditions, live grueling schedules, and even get paid a small salary. If someone is able to put that much love and time into something, I truly hope they succeed.

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  27. This week we read about how important money is when pursuing a career in art or music. We know that musicians often worry about not having a roof over their head and not being able to pay the bills.

    My question is, “Do you think that this problem is only existent in the world of art and music? Do you think someone, for example an athlete, can run into the same problems that a musician would have to deal with? Does this athlete struggle and can’t focus on practicing his passes and shooting because he spends time worry about how he’s going to make this month’s rent?”

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    1. @maxngan
      I do not think that this problem is only unique to the world of art and music. I do think that it applies to an athlete as well as a musician. As stated in the above post “Music, just as with the other arts, requires monetary support. This includes funding for obvious things like supplies (instruments and repairs, scores, paper, rehearsal space), education, and training costs. It also includes less obvious things such as some degree of financial comfort — without, for example, the stability of a warm home and food, a person is less likely to be able to devote time and energy towards making music because their attention is focused on fulfilling more basic needs. (This idea comes from Abraham Maslow’s 1943 article “A Theory of Human Motivation.” I believe the necessary needs for stated requirements that are stated above are also needed just as much for athletes as for musicians in order for success in their given field. I doubt that an athlete will make a good pass or proper shot if their first thought is not how am I going to make this shot or pass but, how I going to make this month’s rent.

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  28. I believe that the music industry as a whole has failed to produce any new talent in a long period of time. I believe that the way that people are compensated nowadays for original content is a direct reason of why we have such a shortage of new talent that is surfacing. This post has touched upon many of the shortcomings on the compensation system of the music industry. Musicians deserve to be rewarded for their efforts in making a new piece of work. When people are not rewarded for their efforts that is when you will have less work being produced. I believe that there should be a radical change in the way that our artists for today and the future are being compensated otherwise we have no right to complain that, Oh I wish you could have heard the music that was being produced back in my day.

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  29. Wow would have never thought economic would be included in a music class, I have realized some people who were not the most talented would still make the most money.

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  30. My response to maxng question is i think everyone that does things such as music dance or sports etc.. have to also deal with bills all of the time , a lot of these famous people would spend their money on the wrong things before thinking of their bills that are due.

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  31. If you were to go to work today and your boss told you that you would be paid today for only a small percentage of the work that you do today, Would you still do your job to the best of your ability?

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    1. This was a dope analogy! I think this described how the industry is today. Some artist or producers lose love for doing what they love because of money and not getting what they deserve. Can you blame them? Because me personally I would feel the same exact way as them if you know you worth

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    2. for me, of course NO. But this situation only appears on that I should be getting more paid for my job. But as a music producer their income (may) is inherently unstable.So I more admiration for them, usually they already know they don’t have much income, but keep doing it.

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    3. If i would go to work today and my boss told you that I would be paid today for only a small percentage of the work that i do today, I would not do my work to the best of my ability however if I was doing it back in the day un der the patronage system i would still do it to the best of my ability because if i didn’t I wouldn’t have a place to live, i wouldn’t be fed, i would then be a nobody. Thus my nobility would go down as a person and i would be screwed.

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  32. I believe that one way of finding a way for musicians to receive proper compensation is to have a governing body that would take out required federal and state taxes and add up and divide all the individual factors that were presented in the post such as concerts, commissions, teaching private lessons,teaching in community music schools, teaching in primary education, teaching in secondary education and grant writing. By doing this there would be no question of equal compensation of a musician.I believe this would work because, Music fits into the branch of mathematics and science. Proper compensation of work that performed fits into mathematics and science. Of course everything should be documented and all tax write-offs should be applied. Do you think that this can be a possible way of compensating musicians?

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  33. Currently in my American Government and Politics course we extensively go over how the goal of business is to increase profits by any means while the goal of workers is to increase wages. The reading made me realize that the music industry is just like any other modern business with it’s exploitation of workers to increase their profit margin.

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  34. If the music streaming platforms were to give more to the artists per play, they would have to increase the cost of subscriptions or add even more ads. Do you think people would pay more or allow more ads to help out the artists? Do you think that the industry will ever change to help out artists or will it remain?

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  35. I’m less concerned about the millionaires/billionaires who are already set for life with the amount of money they made and more concerned about poorer people not getting the money they need or deserve for having their music played on spotify/pandora. I would play music as a side job or a hobby but not as a full job because of all the difficulties that would come with that.

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  36. The section about Bach, and all the Patrons, is still very true today. Artist have to go out of their way to make their producers happy, especially the lesser known artists. They have to make something that’ll satisfy both consumer and producer, and by doing that they have to have their art go through them first(producers), if they don’t like it, it’s too bad because it’s their money and they don’t want to take a loss. It’s why sometimes some writers/singers/artist create conventional pieces they can’t go out on a limb and be innovators because they’re is pressure from the producer and rightly so, that’s why some artist have to find the perfect producer who’ll trust them in what they’ll make and not be afraid to get out there. I think it’s very interesting that it’s always been like this with the ones putting out the money and the ones wasting/possibly creating money. Art comes with sacrife and sometime it does not pay off or well.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I agree with you but just want to add that the record label also has a lot to do with “censoring,” their artists. The label decides which tracks are to be released, how many albums you can make, money towards production and videos, etc. This is why a lot of artists choose to be independent so they can decide how they want to handle their music. So yes the idea of a patron is still alive in some sort of way.

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  37. I think the streaming service is alright, yeah it sure doesn’t pay well but that’s the way it is, they take in your work and put it out there, and with all that work you made the main pay will come down to luck. That luck being someone of significance hearing and liking what they see, with the intention of now putting “you” out there under their wing, that is the point why these streaming services exist, to put you out there. That’s out endeavor, it’s the age we’re living in. Luck or no luck. That’s struggle the artists of today have to face.

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  38. I found it interesting the amount of money artists make from streaming sites such as spotify. As little as $.0016 per play which is actually sort of strange considering that they charge $9.99 a month for their customers to stream their music. Im sure the ratio for customers to artists is much larger so it seems a bit unfair to the artist. The only upside I can see for the artist using this app is the exposure they are able to gain. Many new artists such as Jay Critch, Trippie Red were all so called “soundcloud/spotify” rappers before they blew up into the mainstream.

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  39. Playing instruments in the past showed people status. In the article its says people who were in orchestra were taken care of and had more time to practice. So they had to have some sort of money to maintain themselves. I thought how sad it must of been to the less fortunate people who didn’t have access to the joys of music. Today we have music at touch of our fingers. A lot of people can play instruments if they please. It is offered in public schools it is everywhere and I’m grateful for it.

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    1. Some people think that music without any lyrics is boring and has no point. It’s possible that they’ve never heard classical or any good classical music. It is disheartening…

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  40. I can see that economic industry aligns with how musicians can become successful in today’s society, but I’m upset that some musicians on streaming platforms don’t get as much recognition as they should. Some people don’t know some of these music platforms which makes them miss out on possibly amazing musicians. I could barely recognize more than half the platforms from the image filled with different websites!

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  41. I remember watching this film not so long, which I really recommend why won an academy award for best supporting performance by actor and made by the guy brought the musical (not an ad) Lala Land, Damien Chazelle, the film is called Whiplash which is about a young drummer who wants to make it and the goal is to be the main drummer for this hardcore teacher’s jazz band, Andrew( the drummer ) pushes and tests his limits just to improve and play by the standards of his abusive Teacher, the film is very moving as it shows how far an artist who wants to make it and be someone will go. Having watched it and read about Mike Tetrault and his obsession with making it reminds me the Andrew. Both want to make it, both sacrifice their personal relations and wellbeing for the part, truly shows what needs to be done to actually make it.

    http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2582802/

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  42. My question is, if an industry goes along with what’s popularly sold how would new genres be created, or how would a song become liked over one that sounds just as similar?

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  43. Patrons seemed to control composers creativity all the time so composers would strictly have to create music to patrons liking with reminds me how some artist feel in todays music industry with record labels. Actually one of the most interesting weekly discussion to me.

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  44. I always would how patrons felt if composers had married someone and created a large family. Is that something in their contracts? Do composers have to work twice as hard for patrons to support their family?

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  45. would you guys agree ,that the more advances we have when it comes to technology and the media, the less an artist actually makes?

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  46. “The irony of recorded music being ubiquitous in our lives (meaning that we can’t imagine our daily activities without it and that we prize its perfection) is that it seems we value it less than ever.”
    I think that this statement is very true today. As I read this statement I was reminded of the times of when I was younger where I would wait in front of a record store in the cold of winter or the heat of the summer waiting for the doors to open to purchase a physical copy of a new album that had just been released. Now it is all just a click away without even leaving home. I think that the fact music is so easily accessible has made some people take it for granted. I miss going to the record stores. Does anybody remember Tower Records, and Coconuts?

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    1. do you think listening to music on disc is better in terms of quality sound versus online streaming?

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  47. I feel like this blog is giving the facts about music, especially when it comes to streaming sites. Musicians/artist are giving their time sand maybe their money (if they are independent) to receive little money while the site and the record companies make the most out of what the artist created and it goes deeper then that as well. As a person who want to operate a record label, I want artist to get a fair cut of their hard work.

    Liked by 1 person

  48. @mwaters23 I would disagree because if a artist That makes good music, in any genre, can you social media and technology to gain a fan base, popularity, and promote themselves with a major label backing them. For example Chance the Rapper in independent and doing everything by hisself to make is music be known and stay relevant.

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    1. Yea but they will probably have to supplement themselves with side jobs and for additional income. Like many other artist side jobs are very commun yo survive while they make it big dancers are often bartender and waitress at night and dance during the day same way musicians have side “hustles” to get by. Here is a blog about multiples way musicians can generate income https://bandzoogle.com/blog/18-ways-musicians-can-make-money

      Liked by 1 person

  49. Wages really have a big impact on an industry, especially the art industry. Singing and painting
    for the last essay we have discussed what influenced us to become a musician and I think income is one of the big factors
    A good example for me is my brother. He is a freelance composer and has his own band. But his income does not come from writing or performing songs. (Although there is a part)。And he also used to be a teacher to teach in private schools. But this is unbalanced for his expenses.In the end he found a job in the office and then writing or performing songs only as his sideline.
    I think he is great. Before we had a “real” career, our parents always had “big problem” for it. But he persisted, and it also made me realize that indeed income and wages have a great influence on a person’s future and interests.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s true!!! Music is not like science career that can make wage balances. I feel like music is more abstract thing, only small amount of people can make a lot of money in music career because these people got extremely good at this. But there are regular people they have bills, family to feed and reality problem. So they have to put music at side in order to find a good wage job.

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      1. Economics plays a huge role in music history. It even shaped some genres of music and the way we listen to them and feel about them. Today it’s easier for some musician to make money because it’s easier to get noticed and other than just with the music they can make a lot of money because of publicity

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  50. After read this article I learned so much things. Now I can understand why music is soooo important in European because it’s not only the pure art creation but also presenting the powerc and social level. Also, Beethoven really is a smart guy!! He got supports from high social level, also expend his music business to outside!! It’s true that economic problem can tied artists in their career!!

    There are many famous painting artists in Europe, many of them are poor but they still can created the excellent paintings, so My question is, there are many famous painting artists in Europe, are they have same situation with these musicians?

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  51. What impacted me the most about this article was the fact that economics has played a big role in the way music is play. The fact that composers had to write what they told to but not what they wanted, it’s rather sad. It makes me wonder all the wonderful compositions that could have been written and were never written because the role of patrons in music. I find it interesting even still today is the same way in the music industry, but differently as record levels manipulate artist into only releasing commercial music. Here is an interesting article about how music records control some artist http://www.stlamerican.com/news/columnists/bernie_hayes/major-labels-manipulate-control-of-black-music/article_4d768f74-d3ad-11e2-9c19-001a4bcf887a.html

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  52. What does it mean to be a successful musician, to be a successful musician nowadays you have to have a ton of sales, be on many billboards, be on the radio, to win many awards, etc… But back in the day to know that you were successful or rich you would have to have a patron, the patronage system was where servants either consisting of musicians or composers would perform and write music, or it could even be artist’s painting for their high noble masters. They would have patrons because they wanted to show off as well as it showed how worthy a person was. The patron was pretty much living in royalty because they would have like a contract, they would have a uniform, they would have somewhere to live, and be fed. However the noble man was in charge of what they could do for example it was the decision of the noble man if they could sell their music. I guess we do have the patronage system today for example in the patronage system the servant would play music and write music if the noble man did like it he/she would make more if the noble man didn’t like it he/she was out. Today we see that many producers take in young artists on their wing, they have a contract with them as long as they make something the producer likes they are good if they do not they are out. Today music is a big money game, meaning that a member in the orchestra can earn up to 100,000 per year, there are concerts, many make money off of these concerts which the musician can make up to 4,000, composers charge when they have to write a piece of work for someone, there is online streaming where one can pay per month to listen to music, as well as school. Overall i see music as a big money game because in the times before we see that you had to please your master or if you don’t then your basically screwed, in today we see that musicians don’t make that much and are not compensated for what they have achieved.

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  53. My question is if you were never under the patronage system would your music have been famous or well hard of?

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  54. I thought this post was very important because people don’t realize how much time money and effort creatives put into their careers. It definitely takes a lot of dedication and commitment to what you want to do. Many seem to struggle financially and unless they have the upper hand of being born into prestige they have to manage to support themselves and their career choice somehow.

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  55. My question is, do you think that since the older creative’s and musicians had a higher economical handicap, not to mention the lack of social media and the Internet, this then means that the artists of our time cannot be compared to those from before?

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  56. Economics play a large role in the music industry and sadly for some artist the economics behind music is the dictator in what music they compose. music no longer is a form of self expression however, becomes a business. After reading this, I thought of jayz music streaming company (tidal) and wondered why would he go against Apple Music, Spotify, pandora etc which are well known music streaming companies?

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  57. This reading was interesting to read! ! I liked how it described how the industry is today. Most artist or producers love what the do. They do it because its there passion not just for the money. But sometimes some work hard and dont get what they deserve but that doesn’t effect them cause there doing what they love.

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  58. Its unfortunate that there are many talented musicians who havent found the right media oulet or record label to market them properly, and as a result abandon their dreams, their craft which they’ve honed for years, and something they’re passionate about. When there are musicians who dont have the same work ethic or experience but have a better support system in their manager and label who can build their brand with superior marketing strategies. When reading this post i thought about various musicians who started out doing what they love but when record sales become an issue they decide to go mainstream by making music that a majority of people want to hear. In other words they “sold out”

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  59. Does anyone agree that in the music industry the record labels are the people of power? They are the modern day aristocrats. They control tour dates, compensation, and what music goes on radio so much that the musician ceices being an artist and becomes a pawn.

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