do you believe musicians should be able to make a living from music? are you? do you have health insurance?
rachel blumberg: yes I do. there are lots of different paths to do this, though. I do have health insurance but I pay for it myself. it’s just a choice I’ve made, that it’s something I can’t notafford.
stephen the real tuesday weld: yes, the nhs.
pete paphides: not all musicians are going to make a living from music, but sure, it’s a common courtesy to show someone your appreciation for the things they make by paying them for it. until recently, I made my living from music. I still earn money from it, but I have, as they say, taken “a back seat.” there are children to chauffeur; meals to cook!
james dump/yo la tengo: yes / yes / yes.
erin a girl called eddy: yes. no. no.
stephin the magnetic fields: plenty of people should and do make a living from music, but sales of recorded music have been cut in half. I make a living, but my health insurance is always precarious.
dawn cf: YES.
daniel handler: we should live in an absolute artistic meritocracy. my insurance is from the screenwriters guild. these two sentences contradict each other.
corin tucker: yes. not really. yes our family has health insurance thankfully.
hannah grass widow: I do believe musicians should be making a living. music is so important to everyone — and no one would want to live in a world without it — but people aren’t really willing to pay artists what we deserve. our culture makes us feel like idiots for spending our time making music, as if we should get a real job. grass widow has never made a living being a band. we all have day jobs. I used to think it was so not punk to license your music, but these days I’m thinking that we wouldn’t have had that money in the first place, so if someone offered that maybe we could take that money and donate it to a cause we believe in or open an all-ages venue or something. we’re not above capitalism and we definitely need money to pay rent/eat.
ian musical chairs: In theory, it would be nice but mainstream tastes and buying habits would have to change to make the numbers work for most musicians (especially indie ones). no. yes (through my day job).
shaun brilldream: of course. but too much money = bad art.
kim baxter: yes, definitely! no, I’m not making a living from music. I do have health insurance but it’s a constant source of stress.
andrew eggs/talk it: I don’t make my living as a musician anymore. I do have health insurance.
bridget st john: that would be great – but unless we can have benefactors who want to help support us – no one owes us a living in music – as much effort as you put in determines what benefit you are able to reap, and these days it is more possible with internet and downloads and self-pressed cds and live performance it is possible. I did from 1969 to 1976 – and then found it impossible in new york and found other ways to supplement my musical income. Ironically if I chose to I believe I could work a lot more and make a living through music all these years on! from 1976 to 2011 I never had health insurance — but now at the grand age of 65 I have medicare – as imperfect as that is!
joe pines / foxgloves: making a living from music is not something I could contemplate. in my country, despite endless neoliberal inroads, we still have a universal health system which I believe is the noblest creation in our history. it is the material testament to our solidarity as a society. going to a hospital is naturally burdensome and worrying, but I can also find it inspiring.
gordon the fan modine: why certainly! I make a living from being creative. It has been nice that some years music has been the main thing I was focusing on. I do (have health insurance). I’ve been buying my own for more than a decade. It is one of the toughest things for people who don’t sign on to a mothership. individual (non group) plans are more expensive. it would seem that we should encourage entrepreneurs and micro-business owners such as musicians and artists.
jennifer o’connor: it’s very difficult to make a living playing music and whether musicians should or shouldn’t, I can’t really answer. I am making a living from music for the first time ever starting just this year. I do have health insurance but I pay too much for it and it’s not good and I’m thinking about dropping it because it’s so expensive and I feel it doesn’t even cover anything. It feels like throwing money away.
tim dagger: absolutely, I’m not a musician and I do have health insurance.
allen clapp: there have been a few years I actually made a living from music, but I always keep a foot in the day-job world (I’m a writer) because it’s too darn expensive to live in the san francisco bay area without at least some kind of a back-up plan. I do have health insurance, but I’m definitely pushing it on the dental plan. now I’m scared to go back to the dentist and discover what’s gone wrong. eek!
fran cannane: musicians can make a living from music in many ways such as teaching, playing in cover bands, selling music to be in ads, etc. to be highfalutin about it, this question is not relevant to the artist. I do not think anyone musician or not has a right to make money. it is I suppose a marketplace. if enough people get to hear your music and like it and then buy it or go to shows you may make money. if not you won’t. I note this excerpt from a philip larkin interview in paris review…
interviewer: do you think economic security an advantage to the writer?
larkin: the whole of british postwar society is based on the assumption that economic security is an advantage to everyone. certainly I like to be economically secure. but aren’t you, really, asking about work? this whole question of how a writer actually gets his money—especially a poet—is one to which there are probably as many answers as there are writers, and the next man’s answer always seems better than your own. ¶ on the one hand, you can’t live today by being a “man of letters” as easily as a hundred or seventy-five years ago, when there were so many magazines and newspapers all having to be filled. writers’ incomes, as writers, have sunk almost below the subsistence line. on the other hand, you can live by “being a writer,” or “being a poet,” if you’re prepared to join the cultural entertainment industry, and take handouts from the arts council (not that there are as many of them as there used to be) and be a “poet in residence” and all that. I suppose I could have said—it’s a bit late now—I could have had an agent, and said, look, I will do anything for six months of the year as long as I can be free to write for the other six months. some people do this, and I suppose it works for them. but I was brought up to think you had to have a job, and write in your spare time, like trollope. then, when you started earning enough money by writing, you phase the job out. but in fact I was over fifty before I could have “lived by my writing”—and then only because I had edited a big anthology—and by that time you think, well, I might as well get my pension, since I’ve gone so far.
interviewer: any regrets?
larkin: sometimes I think, everything I’ve written has been done after a day’s work, in the evening: what would it have been like if I’d written it in the morning, after a night’s sleep? was I wrong? some time ago a writer said to me—and he was a full-time writer, and a good one—“I wish I had your life. dealing with people, having colleagues. being a writer is so lonely.” everyone envies everyone else. ¶ all I can say is, having a job hasn’t been a hard price to pay for economic security. some people, I know, would sooner have the economic insecurity because they have to “feel free” before they can write. but it’s worked for me. the only thing that does strike me as odd, looking back, is that what society has been willing to pay me for is being a librarian. you get medals and prizes and honorary-this-and-thats—and flattering interviews—but if you turned round and said, right, if I’m so good, give me an index-linked permanent income equal to what I can get for being an undistinguished university administrator—well, reason would remount its throne pretty quickly.