“Borrowed time and borrowed world and borrowed eyes with which to sorrow it.”
A Note on Labour
Music does not spring forth from my heart in exuberance. It is physical and emotional work to create this music, and while I do love this work, I love it in part because it is so intimate and so intense. It comes from a place of deep introspection, one that takes a serious and concerted effort to reach.
It is the job of other companies to exploit this labour. Spotify, Apple music, Youtube, etc, will take what artists have made and extract as much value as possible from it. Spotify obviously values the art they exploit, if they didn't they wouldn't be a 36 billion dollar company. However that money never sees the artist, artists get paid fractions of fractions of pennies per stream. This creates a competition for resources, where artists compete amongst themselves to get the attention they desperately need instead of being able to make empowered decisions.
A simple solution is to say 'well just don't use Spotify, don't use social media' but I think it misses the point. The point is not that individual artists and their choices are responsible for this industry, the point is that artists are coerced into participating in this system because there are no alternatives. While it CAN exist that artists thrive outside of these platforms, the fact is that artists do not have much power. Like every industry we are at the mercy of capital, and without capital, there is no growth inside capitalism.
My goal in saying this is not to make anyone feel guilty. My goal is not even to get you to pay for my music, but instead to just be aware of how labour is exploited. The problem is not you or me for streaming music, the problem isn't Spotify or Youtube, the problem is the system that enables this exploitation and alienation of labour. My hours of sitting with my cello in hand, the hours of sitting at the piano, working through chords and intervals and moods; all of that is taken by a company and their goal is to generate as much profit from it as possible while paying out as little as possible. That is the literal mission of a corporation in capitalism: to take labour, generate profit from it, and pay someone a fraction of what their labour is worth.
When you buy music directly from an artist, it helps artists more than you may imagine. It helps me create more music. It helps me eat and pay rent. It helps me support other artist by taking them on tour or by helping them release music. It helps art.