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CWAC Think Tank

This is where we will feature relevant articles written by industry people to provoke thought and discussion for our betterment. I have the honour of  the first salvo.

 

WHERE DO WE GO FROM HERE?

They say that if you want to know what the future holds, study the past. My great grandmother used to say, “The only mistake in life is not learning from a mistake.”  

 

Reflecting back on my 51-year long career in the music industry, I have lived through all the changes and challenges our industry has endured. Out of a need to survive, I have been forced to pivot—to reinvent myself and my gigs. Since all I ever really wanted to do is play the trumpet professionally, each industry shift felt tectonic and was unwanted.  

 

However, I know now that these changes were an opportunity to grow and to learn, and learn I did...sometimes the hard way! I was forced to cross the line between artist and business person.  Business requires a completely different way of thinking..a different part of the brain which artists typically don’t tap into.  Also managing the business aspect forces the artist to split their time between creativity, practice and business. The business side of music compels you to place a value on what you do and the time you have invested in  it. Generally speaking, this is not easy for artists to do because a big part of the “expression of art” is about your emotions and your soul, yet this must be separated from the business aspect. This explains why historically entertainment managers/agents have been integral in our industry since they deal with the business aspects which frees up our time to be creative and expressive through our artistic crafts.  

 

This last  year has been devastating for our industry. Fear, confusion and anger seem to flow at will.  The question I ask myself time and again is: Have we reached the nadir of our industry?  At this point, it certainly seems like it. 

 

There has been a small group of musicians and other industry-related organizations who have met with government officials over the past 10 months in an attempt to explain how this pandemic and the lockdowns have impacted our industry. What has become crystal clear to me is that government has no insight into who we are, what we do or how we earn a living.  It is apparent that the entertainment industry is not even on their radar with respect to their “re-opening” plan.  It appears that they have little respect for who we are, what we do and our plight as a result of these extended lockdown measures. Yet, if lockdowns have taught us all one thing, it is that entertainment is essential. Try to imagine this entire time without Netflix, music, books, etc…  We would of all gone bonkers by now.

 

It is clear that more and more artists are feeling marginalized during these challenging times. But to add insult to injury, it hit rock bottom for me a few months ago when I got a call from an unknown to do a session and was offered $20! I kept my cool and informed him that I was a professional and $20 was not going to cut it. I told him that he would have to add another zero to that figure. He was shocked and a cordial conversation ensued.  Knowing in my bones that this person was not a professional, I eventually asked him how he came up with that figure?  Was it because that’s all he could afford or was it something else? Well, it was not all he could afford and that “something else” was his belief that all musicians work for very little because we love what we do.  I told him that I love doing what I do but I was not going to give it away and that I would not do it for less than $200. He mumbled something about getting a musician somewhere who will do it “for cheap.”  I had no problem sticking to my price whatsoever. Over the years I have declined gigs far more times than I have said “yes” to them, and I am not broke…LOL. One man’s broke can be another man’s riches.

 

I personally believe that we, as artists, are responsible for our perceived diminished value. We have to be more judicious with the management of our talents and skills. We need to learn how to value what we do and to stick to that value. We need to command respect for ourselves and in turn, I believe this will result in a healthier respect for our industry. We need to remind society that we are the linchpin to the entertainment world and, without us, clubs, theatres and the like would simply be empty buildings. 

 

So, where do we go from here? It is my sincere hope that the CWAC can bring together working artists both those with longstanding experience and those new artists who are embarking upon their careers with the aim to help each other out, and to bring the advice and wisdom from those who have already navigated the tumultuous waters of the music industry. The CWAC will highlight both the successes and the failures.  We can give inspiration and confidence to each other, one gig at a time and ultimately raise the cache of what we do for a living. We may be at the nadir of the industry, but, the good news is that we have nowhere to go but up from here, let’s do it right.

A wise man once said, “If you want a cleaner world, you start by cleaning up your own front door steps.”

 

CWAC - Artists helping Artists.

 

Tony Carlucci

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