What is quickly becoming clear is that musicians and their core scenes will have to go back to their roots, receding to the underground where they can reinvent themselves and get back in touch with the core values of the craft.
Music is far from the only cultural undertaking having to do some deep soul searching, with sports, literature, and art all undergoing the same stresses and strains. Here’s how each of them can not only survive, but thrive, decoupling themselves from the neo-liberal market economy to flourish without fiscal restraint.
Sports – How Games Can Go Back to Nourish Their Grassroots
Throughout much of the 20th century and so far the entirety of the 21st, sport has lost its way, as what were once community-minded clubs instead became global businesses, their owners more interested in profit rather than the development of young local talent and community initiatives.
In America this was taken to new heights with the commodification of college sport, with the likes of the NCAA’s March Madness turning over in excess of $1 billion in 2019 alone, meaning before a young player had even completed their formative educational years they were thrust into the cutthroat world of pro contracts and inducements.
When college sport returns to the fold, perhaps those who run it can focus on creating a more inclusive system that is both protective of players and which benefits student bodies as a whole, promoting sport more widely on campuses rather than solely homing in on elite level players.
Music – Artists Were Already Getting Screwed, Now They Can Break Free
The dawn of the digital revolution was supposed to bring with it the end of exploitative music industry contracts, which sucked bands and dance acts dry. In the end the exact opposite happened, with music labels fleecing artists when it came to recording sales and downloads, forcing them to go on the road to make ends meet.
This phenomenon led to the rise of the super festival, turning what used to be ad hoc soulful events such as Woodstock and Glastonbury into mammoth sterile exercises in profiteering, requiring fans to pay hundreds or thousands of their local currency to mope about in a field pretending to be having a life-altering experience as they are bombarded by advertising and drowned in watered-down beer.
Music has always prospered in times of hardship, with Jazz, Motown, Techno, and the rave scene all stemming from moments in history when everything else was stripped away to leave just notes, chords, and beats. The hope now is that underground raves and jam sessions will become the norm for music fans who can no longer afford to have themselves exploited to the extent they were over the last few decades.
Literature – Books Need to Branch Out
Fine art aside, there are no art forms quite as exclusionary as literature, with writing talent continuously being sourced from the same tired and self-perpetuating institutions. Over time this has led to books being seen as the reserve of the middle and upper classes, excluding many sections of society from important conversations surrounding politics, economics, and social issues.
To recover itself properly, the world of books has to find new ways to tap into the psyche of the general populous, doing away with its penchant for nepotism and elitism in the process. If it doesn’t, it could find itself shelved indefinitely.