Blog: The Educated Reporter

Chicago Symphony Strike – What is Music Worth?

Right now, we live in a time when more music is made by non-musicians than ever before in the history of civilization.

Live musicians are replaced by sound libraries, live performances have turned into backing tracks, studio trickery no longer necessitates that musicians can actually pull off their parts in a recording session and illegal downloads (and the pricing on legal downloads and streams for that matter) have decimated royalty streams.

Revenue streams for ALL musicians have been slashed due to piracy issues — and the fact that you can download music for free tends to give consumers the opinion that music has no value. When in fact, musicians study all of their lives to reach the level of a professional musician who performs with a symphony.

Being a classically trained musician takes decades of passion and practice — years of study and auditioning before actually arriving at the symphony level where one can hope to make a living at playing classical music.  A salary of $144,000 (especially considering the cost of living in Chicago) is not a king’s ransom. Let’s face it, you can go to trucking school for a few months and expect to earn (per their advertising) $50.00 per year. No deference intended to truckers who provide a valuable service — but salary commensurate with experience and skill level, I’m afraid the violinist at the Chicago Symphony has you beat by about 25 years of training.

So what is the future of classical music? For one, we have to make people care about it — and engage. Which now, is fairly cost inefficient and inaccessible – effectively throttling both ancillary teaching revenue streams for artists as well as creating roadblocks for potential players and consumers.

However, Napa California-based music education and technology company ArtistWorks offers up the rare opportunity where technology supports musicians instead of chipping away at their art and helps create the musicians of tomorrow — because we NEED musicians of tomorrow. The importance of the Arts notwithstanding, if we are looking at this from a purely commercial standpoint, symphonies are good for cities – you buy a new outfit, have a nice dinner, pay for parking, hire a city – the trickle down effect of music (and live music especially) is important to the economy. Whole cities have evolved around a passion for music — think Seattle, New Orleans, Vienna, Nashville, Austin … the list goes on.

From their online classical school — to rock, jazz and bluegrass — ArtistWorks is helping some of the top musicians in the world personally share their artistry with students all over the world and simultaneously creating new revenue streams for artists and new outlets for prospective students than are affordable and easily accessible. Without which, the general interest in live music of every genre will wane in the coming years.

ArtistWorks is working to create those new viable revenue streams — and create the passionate player, instrument buy and concert ticket consumer of tomorrow.


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