Another panel looks at music issues


Chairman George Miller (D-CA) is planning on gaveling his Committee on Education and Labor to order for a session called “The Economic and Employment Impact of the Arts and Music Industry.” According to the Committee, “Recent news reports have highlighted the tough economic realities arts and music organizations are facing – many are cutting budgets and programs that are the engine of the local economy and provide meaningful employment opportunities for workers. According to research conducted by the National Endowment for the Arts, unemployment for artists rose at a higher rate than the overall workforce in 2008.”

The American Federation of Musicians is sending orchestral musician advocate Bruce Ridge to make their points. In a release, AFM noted that musicians are instrumental in all facets of the entertainment business, and that entertainment was America’s second largest export. AFM said, “In these troubling economic times musicians are having a harder time patching together income streams – from live performances, royalties, recording sessions, etc. – to earn a living. Most musicians are not famous, they are just hardworking Americans trying to make a living entertaining the public.”

RBR/TVBR observation: Nobody questions the fact that cobbling together a career in music is tough – that’s why the image of parents counseling their children to avoid such a career is a cliché. Further, although entertainment can do well in tough times, the fact remains that you can’t eat, wear or live in music, and sometimes its purchase comes in behind such essentials.

The real question, however, is just who is expected to ease the musician’s lot. We still remember Billy Corgan at the last hearing talking about the benefits he received from radio, and the battles he’s had with labels, but inexplicably arguing for the labels. At some point, Congress, can we have an up close and personal look at labels v. musicians before simply blaming broadcasters for all of the music industry’s problems?

The full witness list includes:

* U.S. Rep. Louise M. Slaughter (D-NY), co-chair, Congressional Arts Caucus

* Michael Bahr, Education Director, Utah Shakespearean Festival, Cedar City, UT

* Tim Daly, actor and co-president, The Creative Coalition

* Joanne Florino, executive director, Triad Foundation, Inc., Ithaca, NY

* Robert L. Lynch, president and CEO, Americans for the Arts, Washington, DC

* Michael Spring, director, Miami-Dade County Department of Cultural Affairs,
Miami, FL       

* Bruce Ridge, musician and chairman, International Conference of Symphony and
Opera Musicians, Raleigh, NC

* John Thomasian, director, National Governors’ Association, Center for Best
Practices, Washington, DC