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September 6, 2010

There's more to life than money

Human beings do things for three reasons: to acquire power, property or prestige. That is, to have more control over their lives, to have more stuff, or to have more people think they're cool. Any of these things can be converted into another - at a cost.

Initially, music was written and performed at rituals, festivals and ceremonies because the music added extra feeling to the event. At some point people wanted to make the music an even stronger contributor to the public good, so they nominated a few people to be responsible for their music.

These people were usually given a title like "bard" and excused from other duties so that they could work on the music. Eventually, the idea of a professional entertainer who did nothing but write and perform songs, dances, and stories came to be widely accepted.

The fact that one person was a professional musician did not stop others from making music. The professionals were often leaders of pro-am musical groups in their communities, increasing the spread of their music, the prestige of their group and the social value of their performances.

Even at the height of the music industry, non-professionals still wrote songs and performed them in caf├ęs, parties, theatrical shows and so on. They did so, and people continue to do so, because they enjoyed making music and because other people enjoy hearing their music and respect their talents.

People do NOT always make music in exchange for property or power, they usually do it in exchange for prestige - even if that prestige is simply self-esteem. This is also true for most art forms and leisure activities. Although professionals can be very well paid for excelling, the vast majority of participants are motivated by the desire for esteem.

Esteem granted to a musician can be converted into income and power by selling recordings, tickets or merchandise; and by influencing others through brand endorsements, political activism or teaching. If done correctly, these conversions add to the musician overall value and thus support them.

Summary:

Music does not operate mainly in the economies of money or power. It operates in the economy of esteem, which can be converted into either power or money, but is not driven by either. The primary business function of an Independent musician is to gather esteem, from which they can derive income.

This post is the summary of Part 2 of Dr Huge's "How the record industry got it so wrong". The latest version of the complete ebook can be downloaded here and a hard copy can be ordered here.
Posted by DrHuge at September 6, 2010 4:52 PM
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