The Killing of America’s Creative Class

One of the worst things that ever happened to the creative class was when a few started to make mega millions and that became the definition of success.

Some of the greatest guitar players ever, make that musicians ever lived hand to mouth gigging in honky tonks and mean blues clubs.  Just because your parents plonked down a few K at the local Guitar Center no more means you will be one of the next generations Rolling Stones than your making the Jay-Vee third string football team in high school means you will someday play in the Super Bowl.

That said there are a lot of creative folks out there with day jobs and gigs in local clubs, art that sells in the art versions of flea markets/swap meets.

On an up note lots of folks with degrees in engineering and law are in the same boat.  Too many people in the field for there to be enough work for all.

At the same time it seems like there are more musicians in Texas and more music venues than in New York and California combined.

BTW:  Recording contracts and publishing contracts with corporations tend to be corporate licenses to steal from artists.  It can be a DIY world for those brave enough to try.

From Alternet:

A review of Scott Timberg’s fascinating new book, ‘Culture Crash.’

By Amien Essif
January 21, 2015

Some of my friends became artists, writers, and musicians to rebel against their practical parents. I went into a creative field with encouragement from my folks. It’s not too rare for Millennials to have their bohemian dreams blessed by their parents, because, as progeny of the Boomers, we were mentored by aging rebels who idolized rogue poets, iconoclast cartoonists, and scrappy musicians.

The problem, warns Scott Timberg in his new book Culture Crash: The Killing of the Creative Class, is that if parents are basing their advice on how the economy used to support creativity – record deals for musicians, book contracts for writers, staff positions for journalists – then they might be surprised when their YouTube-famous daughter still needs help paying off her student loans. A mix of economic, cultural, and technological changes emanating from a neoliberal agenda, writes Timberg, “have undermined the way that culture has been produced for the past two centuries, crippling the economic prospects of not only artists but also the many people who supported and spread their work, and nothing yet has taken its place.”

Tech vs. the Creative Class

Timberg isn’t the first to notice. The supposed economic recovery that followed the recession of 2008 did nothing to repair the damage that had been done to the middle class. Only a wealthy few bounced back, and bounced higher than ever before, many of them the elites of Silicon Valley who found a way to harvest much of the wealth generated by new technologies. InCulture Crash, however, Timberg has framed the struggle of the working artist to make a living on his talents.

Besides the overall stagnation of the economy, Timberg shows how information technology has destabilized the creative class and deprofessionalized their labor, leading to an oligopoly of the mega corporations Apple, Google, and Facebook, where success is measured (and often paid) in webpage hits.

What Timberg glances over is that if this new system is an oligopoly of tech companies, then what it replaced – or is still in the process of replacing – was a feudal system of newspapers, publishing houses, record labels, operas, and art galleries. The book is full of enough discouraging data and painful portraits of artists, though, to make this point moot. Things are definitely getting worse.

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