The Washington Post has created yet another firestorm in regards to the current State of The Union for improvisational music. You can find this poorly written piece on line of course. As someone that has spent four years of their life writing about music and helping independent artists get noticed there is little doubt the business as an entity is in trouble. The above graphic is cute but they are all tied together.
What is not cute is this sobering statistic that shows sales have dropped by more than half in a year. Teens are buying, not jazz but they are buying. Adults are trying to put gas in the car and buy mandatory health insurance at overly inflated prices while they lose trusted physicians and in some cases their lives but let me jump back on track.
What I mean is simply this, the business is independent. More and more "major label" artists are self funding. Record labels are not banks, they will toss you a nickel like it were a manhole cover. If an indie artist can raise the required cash for just a "decent" release in terms of sound, packaging etc. The bare bones price could be 20k. Now with the expense of daily life, traveling, touring etc. there are a huge percentage of artists not even breaking even or if they do then they still have almost nothing to reinvest and the cycle continues. My source? Personal - PERSONAL conversations with over 75 different artists all over the world. I have seen artists post on social media asking where food banks are located. I have literally donated my time and talent to some artists that were and are functionally broke and haven't made their own record in seven years. You can make a living creating and playing in New York but for the music to survive it has to move outside the Big Apple - thus an artist has to record if in fact they are serious about the creative process. The system seems to not be conducive to this very basic idea.
This morning big band "conductor" Anita Brown decided to come after me on facebook. Anyone believing it is "smart" (focus on smart) for an artist to attempt a public cyber drive by on a critic then raise your hand. Brown informed me her disc cost 65 k...Given the fact she has a "recession sale" posted on her web site which more closely resembles a 13 year old girls My Space page, I would like to publicly thank her for making my point which is simply general in nature and not a condemnation of anything other than where the business has gone. Brown's epic melt down went on to attempt to inform me "why" musicians create. Having been a musician and with my current gig here, I assumed I simply broke her brain. Her last major release appears to have been in 2007. Outside of a blurb on All About Jazz, I couldn't really run across any reviews. I heard it. Moving on...Hmmm oh well, I guess it takes six years to save 65 large.
As I have long said, not any nobility in being a broke ass musician or critic.