It looks like the music industry is mimicking income inequality in a really painful way, and perhaps even magnifying it. Every day I consider posting this thing—but I don’t. It’s a picture of the incomes of the top DJs right now, and this is absolutely appalling. Calvin Harris pulls down $66 million in a 12-month period! I’m working on the phrasing, but it says something like, “Ever feel like a single teardrop in a sea of urine?” What are we rewarding? What do we want from people, and what do we admire? It’s fuckin’ depressing. Their load-in is one laptop bag. For us, we have a crew of 10 people on salary with a ton of equipment. We’re part of the economy. It’s that feeling of the super rich that don’t put anything into it and are just like, “Oh, I’ll take that check.” What we’re doing feels righteous, and pretty cool.
Even if tour revenue is increasing, it might not be trickling down quite enough. You heard me right, Reaganomics is failing the music industry. Let’s just hope streaming services can reform themselves enough to plug the hole.
Michael Passman has a pretty interesting piece on the challenges Austin is facing….problems that seem pretty common to a lot of other cities.
In a city that promotes itself for music, those who do it can’t afford to continue, there are fewer venues for them to do so, and those venues left are threatened with going out of business, not to mention less time in the evening for musicians to actually play.
We know the causes. People come here for SXSW, SXSW gets bigger and bigger, people decide they want to move here, the tech startup boom is ongoing, the economy is healthy, and buildings get torn down and replaced by high rise condos. It happens everywhere.
In the end, 2016 lineups will reflect whatever the market will bear. If the event organizers turn a profit by putting big names on their bills they’ll do more of the same, context be damned. But we’re losing something special here, like when the local diner is torn down to make room for an Olive Garden. Every town doesn’t need the same depressing strip of franchise restaurants, nor does every festival need big brand names on the top of the bill.