Purely from the perspective of music, there’s not a single environment in which this battle doesn’t rage.
In my moments of madness, tearing through my memories, high marks, woe is me’s and lost opportunities - it’s easy to blame low balling, pseudo musicians. It happens in every corner of the in person and online musical world. Studios, session players, live performers, teachers, agents, residency gigs, showrooms, road work… on and on…
Firstly, to be upset with price slashing we have to ask, “but isn’t the point that they aren’t worth a professional sum?”
Regardless of this falsified idea that subjectivity can validate all art (especially art that isn’t labored for), the truth is that someone who is just learning to drag and drop sounds doesn’t deserve the same monetary compensation as someone who delivers instrumentally crafted, expert musicianship.
Just as someone with an iPhone doesn’t deserve a pro photographers salary to shoot your wedding.
On the other hand … it literally requires someone’s spot to teach another musician. For every open mic night, jam session and “for the door” band in the world, some venue was given free entertainment and some career musician lost another room and a chance to feed their family. Yet, it takes these very endeavors to create a qualified artist. People have to start somewhere. Sometimes, a person’s starting point comes at the expense of a qualified players spot.
I learned my craft as a child performer. In front of records and tapes. In front of crowds on the road. I cut my teeth by studying, working with pros and playing five nights a week. From one point of view, this is right and exactly the way it works. From another point of view, I was some kid… easily not worthy of taking work away from much more seasoned, much better musicians than I was at eleven.
I’m torn. From one perspective you shouldn’t even be in a market place until you’ve actually learned your standards, understand the basic functionality of the work and can deduce the fundamentals of all eras into patterns.
But In another light, how can one throw themselves into the realm of professionalism without drenching themself in the job? Many aspects of music don’t have a scholastic route. This is especially true for pro songwriting, pro road work and career Freelance musicianship.
And to be honest, the vast majority of gifted players I’ve ever worked with in the studio or on the road were absolutely unschooled (we use a road variation of theory that combines numbers, chords, modes and charts). The vast majority of Master degree musicians I’ve ever performed with were soulless. It requires a hybrid. The school is “to slip in, listen to your elders, develop your ear and get to work.”
All this against a backdrop of today’s flippant attitude. We live in a world where all music has the humanity of a bubblegum commercial. Except those were catchy. Some trivia night emcee is worth as much as a jazz trio. Drum machines are viewed with the same prestige as drummers.
Who can account for the worth of anything musically today without hosting a purely philosophical conversation?
Thing is… it’s never been any different.
To some degree this market place serves as an open mic for some folks. It’s on the job learning for young musicians who can’t get bar gigs because they’d rather have trivia night. It’s another place where the fee wars rage on.
It’s both things.
No. Musicians and the like shouldn’t decimate the market value.
On the other hand, No, they aren’t worth more than they’re asking anyway.
I’m not defending it. I’m not advocating for unionization either. I’m recognizing that it sucks and that it’s part of the growing process that leads professionals to expand into eventual living wages (whilst simultaneously harming those wages).