The hot weather tells us that we are quickly coming to the close of yet another school year. Looking back on the year for me means looking back on the progress of my students.
This year I have a student who is moving along to a music program at a College level in Vancouver. He started with me over five years ago now and despite listening to all my cautioning regarding a career in music he has chosen to continue on that path.
It makes me think of being his age and also going to College and pursuing a music career path and at the risk of sounding very old I have to say, things were much different then.
I used to gig regularly in Vancouver and an average “gig” would pay about 125 dollars a night. My calendar was booked for over a year in advance in the early 70s. Gigging one night would pay for my monthly rent, an additional night, groceries and an additional night, transportation. There was a hunger for live music at that time with scores of clubs all over the city and all with live music and I think I played them all. The skill of being a musician was in high demand and that at a time when I didn’t have a fraction of the skill I do now.
I have a friend in Toronto who has owned a music store and music school for almost 30 years. When I taught at that school in the early 80s there were over 800 students. Last week I spoke with him, and this August he is closing because he can no longer afford to keep the building.
Culture changes I guess – but there are some things I would hope we won’t lose, like making music and hearing live music. Over the last several years there has been a paradigm shift in the perception of music and I have watched it first hand through everything from producing albums to performing to owning a music store and teaching. Music is now seen as something that is free, (even though it can be expensive to produce), something that can be downloaded at no cost and this change of value perception has affected every area of the music industry from recording studios to instrument sales and professional music careers.
As my student goes off to college to further his studies my hope is that as a society we would begin to make the value of music an issue in the writing of new copyright laws – laws that don’t allow for the free sharing of music on devices that are specifically designed to acquire intellectual property without paying for it – new legislation that would protect the artist and their work so that we might again begin to include music as a thriving and healthy Canadian industry once again.
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