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FYI

Surviving As A Musician ...with Fergus Hambleton

"Son, there are hundreds of dollars to be made in this business"….old music business joke

Surviving As A Musician ...with Fergus Hambleton

By External Source

"Son, there are hundreds of dollars to be made in this business"….old music business joke


This is a great time to be in the music business…despite the constant cries of doom and gloom that one can hear almost everywhere. Streaming, the demise of CDs, vinyl is back, social media, file sharing, the challenges can seem overwhelming, but the basic question remains the same… "how do we get paid properly for the work that we do?".

When I decided to commit to making an album I had to step back and look very carefully at the current situation for musicians and songwriters. There is no doubt that the landscape has changed dramatically in the 50 years since I began recording but human beings remain the same, and one big lesson from this digital age is that when things can be copied exactly what stands out is the unique object, the live event, the experience that can't be quantified.

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There are many reasons to be apprehensive about the direction that the culture has taken. The cutting of music education, the regrettable tendency of the internet to reinforce personal taste, celebrity and novelty at the expense of creativity has meant that many musicians are struggling to cope with the disappearance of the established model. At the same time, I see opportunity in a business that is now truly international, which is more than a record business. The ability to collaborate across borders, the growth of gaming music, the international demand for TV and film content, the inclusion of many musicians that for one reason or another never really had access to recording music.

The fact that the advent of the internet disrupted the way things had been done for a hundred years had its good side. Now songs could last forever online, the usage of the material could be tracked with ever-increasing accuracy. Country music and hip-hop didn't suddenly become massive in the 90s, the advent of Soundscan meant that sales figures became much more accurate, actually reflecting the buying tastes of the public. Of course, some people weren't happy to find out that their no doubt excellent taste in music was not shared by most people! And the concert experience seemed different now…where are the clubs? say the people who never go out to clubs. Why don't they write any good songs? say the people who only listen to songs that were popular when they were 15. There is nothing that can guarantee the permanence of the symphony orchestra, singer-songwriters, be-bop or death metal…or small intimate venues or giant pop festivals. Every generation will find their own music and their own way of consuming it.

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What can the working musician or songwriter do now? It seems pointless to sit on the seashore and tell the tide not to come in. As with every technological disruption that the music business has experienced ( radio, the LP wars, cassettes, videodiscs) the important task now is to make the legislation catch up to the technology. There is an important role for government in this. At the same time, musicians must continue to create…art is not something that is done, it is something that must be done.

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The freelance life is not an easy one. I have worked at other jobs over the years to keep my freedom to play the music I love. I made a conscious decision to try and make an album involving ( and paying ) as many people as I could. There is a kind of music ecosystem that must be maintained for our musical environment to thrive. This meant hiring a studio, using instruments and the talented people who play them, writing arrangements, mastering it properly and manufacturing vinyl.  That also meant gathering some money, using my time as efficiently as possible and making a lot of creative decisions quickly.

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The music I write and the music I am most interested in could not be described as mainstream these days, but the task is finding your audience wherever they might be. In the end, Neighbourhoods is an album that has given me a great deal of satisfaction, I had the opportunity to stretch and grow a little, to work with some wonderful men and women and to record some musical ideas that were important to me.

fergushambleton.com

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FYI

Fixing The News Business Means Learning To Think Differently (Guest Column)

Change is coming quickly to the news industry, and innovation has to come just as quickly.

This is the second part of a series of guest columnsseeking answers to the financial issues that have plagued Canadian news organizations.

My prescription for change is very clear. Stop trying to solve today's problems through yesterday's lens.

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