Music in Madison can pay off, if you’re white and not a musician – Tone Madison
In 2018 in Dane County, the report concludes, “production generated by the music ecosystem was $ 636 million.” This figure which counts the direct economic impact of the music trade in the region (defined as the “economic value of activities related to the heart of the music ecosystem”), the indirect impacts on other industries (that is, that is, people go to a show, pay for parking, eat at a local restaurant before or after) and the “induced” impact of spending on people making money working in music. But if we do have a “music ecosystem” worth about half a billion dollars a year, that won’t do much for a lot of people involved.
The report finds that between 2015 and 2019, the average annual income of people working in the “music ecosystem” was $ 22,709, compared to $ 48,611 in the rest of the local economy. When the report breaks down these incomes by race and ethnicity, the disparities are appalling: “In the music ecosystem, workers identified by whites earn 122% more than blacks / African Americans and 136% more than Asian workers. The report also notes that whites occupy about 71% of managerial positions in local music-related businesses.
These numbers on income and racial disparities highlight what most people involved in local music already understand: The Madison area is full of talented musicians, but they face systemic racism, a fickle audience, a negligent business climate and to local governments in general. paltry investment in public funding for the arts. The table presented here is of course incomplete: much of the report’s findings are based on federal economic data (from the Census Bureau, Bureau of Labor Statistics, and Bureau of Economic Analysis) that use flawed categorizations to impose order. to disordered realities. If someone is paid cash for a show at a local bar and earns most of their living in non-music related work, it might not show up in formalized data sets. A lot of music occurs in places that aren’t full-fledged music companies, which also makes this difficult to analyze. Additionally, most of the data in the report goes from 2015 to 2019, which means it won’t take into account the devastating impact the pandemic has had on local musicians and venues.
The report itself acknowledges that there are limits to the data and that “the music ecosystem is very informal, with self-employed workers making up the bulk of the region’s workforce.” Despite this informality, the report finds that approximately 75% of jobs in Dane County’s music industry in 2018 were in “professional and supportive” roles, which the report defines as “manufacturing, publishing and distribution, managers and agents, concert halls, broadcasting and music education. The remaining 25% are real musicians and songwriters. This juxtaposition – a lot of informality, but a disproportionate percentage of people working in formalized roles – testifies both to the difficulty of measuring the functioning of music on the fringes, and to the unbalanced investments of our institutions.
“I think if we lack information on employment in the ‘informal’ music economy, it is more difficult to justify why it is so important to improve the infrastructure so that musicians and those in related roles can support themselves, ”Reece said. “The tension is that more money and support stays with those who are currently in power or who have more access to resources because those in less obvious roles become somewhat invisible in the mainstream economy.”
Reece also acknowledges a big gap in the report’s racial and ethnic breakdowns. “Information on the Latinx / Hispanic communities is particularly lacking in this report because there was not enough data available to draw solid conclusions,” she explains.
Kate Durio, CEO of Sound Diplomacy for North America and the Caribbean, agrees that this is a common barrier to understanding the economics of local music. “This is really the challenge, and why this work is so important – there is no NAICS code for it,” says Durio, referring to the standardized coding system that federal agencies use to classify different types of companies. “[In] traditional economic development, house [of commerce] data, the music industry is nowhere to be found. You don’t need a license to do this, most groups don’t have a registered LLC, so you can’t really access all of this information. This is a gap in our current economic development system, our data system, and therefore there is no analysis. “
Durio believes part of the solution is to help more musicians understand the business structures and resources to which they might have access, such as setting up an LLC, applying for grants, or developing multiple sources of income. Madison attempted to meet the need for professional development resources and support in part by providing funds to the city for the annual Between The Waves music conference. But Durio says cities also need a holistic, long-term approach that tackles underlying conditions and recognizes the value of what already exists.
“Madison is already so far ahead, but the problem is a lot of communities are hanging on to these silver bullet projects … but it’s really short-sighted and really has nothing to do with it.” modern economic development because there is no such thing, and you end up handing over the farm for a song in the hope that you will get a lot of return on your investment, but the life of that kind of investment is very, very quick and short, ”says Durio. The approach Durio advises for Madison, and most other cities trying to build healthy music communities, is “slow burn, it’s patient capital, it’s the long game, and it really is the most. smart because you already have people choosing to be in Madison who are producing music and already contributing to your community, so why don’t you invest in people who have already invested in you? “
Beyond the data, the report also gathered observations from a working group of about 40 people involved in or related to Madison music, and categorized them into columns of strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. Real musicians and those involved in the field in local music had enough seats at the table to balance the usual suspects from businesses and citizens. The group included Supa Friends MC Tyler Brunsell, musician / documentary filmmaker / sound engineer Wendy Schenider and jazz bassist Nick Moran, to name a few. This part of the report credits Madison’s local pride and its diverse and accomplished lineup of musicians (“The work ethic of local musicians is exceptional,” reads an entry in the “strengths” column). But this is not watered down: the “weaknesses” section emphasizes that “the public is so used to free opportunities that they will not pay for entertainment” and that “there is no“ place ”for them. artists and fans of color, ”among other systemic factors. During Monday night’s panel, Reece pointed out that Café Coda is the only black-owned bar in Madison.
Madison has a long and frustrating history of denying local artists opportunities for color, and in particular of discriminating against hip-hop. Reece previously led a city-commissioned Music and Entertainment Equity Task Force (TFEME), which in 2018 released a powerful and detailed report denouncing the excessive surveillance of hip-hop events in Madison and proposing 31 specific policy recommendations to create a more inclusive artistic and cultural landscape. City leaders were slow to act on most of these recommendations, and some offered open resistance to criticism of the TFEME report against local police. And before that, Reece collaborated with researchers at UW-Madison on a study that used police data to challenge the stereotype that hip-hop shows correlate with more violence than shows of other genres. musical. There has been some movement – Puerta, from the City Planning Division (which is also home to the city’s full-time arts administrator, Karin Wolf) spends some of her work time trying to implement the recommendations of the TFEME. Reece keeps political hurdles in mind when releasing the Economic Impact Report.
“Unfortunately, I’ve found that hard data isn’t always enough to change the narrative,” says Reece. “I think change happens when we stay consistent and keep pushing for change. We now have a UW study on music genre and violence, the TFEME report and this analysis. Early next year, we’ll have a comparative and regulatory / policy analysis of Sound Diplomacy as well. All of these pieces make it harder to ignore the reality of what musicians and other artists have been saying for decades. “
Another weakness cited by the new report is that “the most popular places [are] owned by an entity, which limits opportunities, ”and as a threat, it notes the“ Power in local venue / entertainment to maintain and develop monopoly. ”concert promoter in which Live Nation bought a controlling stake in 2018 . Live Nation, the world’s largest concert promoter, acquires promoters all the time, around the world, so Sound Diplomacy has researched many other places it has a footprint. Does not consider Live Nation to be “the big bad.” wolf, “but thinks local governments need to take a long-term approach when the business comes to town.
“What we generally recommend is, can you do some kind of cooperative agreement with Live Nation, to say, ‘Yeah, we’ll let you be in our town or we’ll let you do this place, but we want to also places for some of our local musicians, ”says Durio. At this time, it is unclear who in the city or in the county would even conduct these kinds of negotiations.
Live Nation, says Durio, “isn’t negotiated enough. They come there like they’re doing you a huge favor, which couldn’t be further from the truth. You really need to come up with solutions to the venue owners and make sure we have enough places featuring local artists, so it’s not like Anywhere USA running through town. ”
Durio believes Madison is somewhat ahead of the curve compared to many other cities, as organizations like UCAN have already addressed the types of issues that Sound Diplomacy is working on, including equity and complex ways in which the arts intersect with many facets of public life. Politics. And just as important, we have a lot of people in Madison who make music worth hearing.
“They are already there,” said Durio. “We don’t have to attract them. They just want to know that they are seen and supported, and they want to start seeing efforts to help them with what they are already trying to do… that seems like a pretty modest request. and really obvious. “