To my sisters and brothers in NYC music, and beyond…
The Irish tell the story of a man who arrives at the gates of heaven asking to be let in, and Saint Peter says, “Of course! Just show us your scars.” The man says, “But…I have no scars,” and Saint Peter answers, “What a pity. Was there nothing worth fighting for?”
We musicians are used to fighting. For our livelihoods, for our families, for our hopes and dreams, for our calling. For our profession.
In recent years we’ve fought battles we’ve neither sought nor provoked. Battles against powerful corporate forces attempting to devalue music’s worth, streaming companies attempting to lower our micro-penny payments even further, and AM/FM radio which, in the Untied States, makes billions of dollars each year off of our music while paying nothing––zero––to artists for radio airplay.
But now we face a different battle.
Musicians’ road ahead is narrowing because of the crisis of the present. However challenging the future of my profession would have been without the current pandemic, it’s becoming clear now that for music, the future isn’t what it used to be.
Like so many in this country and around the world, we’re facing economic hardships, uncertainty, and danger. Unlike so many others, musicians are facing the tomorrows to come without health insurance, without eligibility for unemployment insurance, without any savings, without any system of fallbacks. Without a way to bounce back. Our “gig economy” has failed to bolster the already-weakened financial options of working musicians.
We will have to fight like never before, in a landscape which––even once this immediate health crisis subsides––we may not even recognize.
The battle is upon us, but we will not give up.
We will not give out.
We will not give in.
We will hold fast. To each other, and to ourselves.
We will light the torches of our inspiration, and we’ll meet these challenges with determination.
And years from now, should someone ask how we got these well-won scars, we’ll say, “From fighting.”