Popular Music and Society Volume 40 Issue 5

Popular Music and Society Volume 40 Issue 5 December 2017
http://www.tandfonline.com/toc/rpms20/40/5
PMS Special Edition: Popular Music and Labor
Popular Music and Society , founded in 1971, publishes articles, book reviews, and audio reviews on popular music of any genre, time period, or geographic location. Popular Music and Society is open to all scholarly orientations toward popular music, including (but not limited to) historical, theoretical, critical, sociological, and cultural approaches. The terms „popular“ and „society“ are broadly defined to accommodate a wide range of articles on the subject. The journal focuses especially on music as a manifestation of popular culture.

Recent and forthcoming Special Issue topics include: Fandom; Musical Autobiographies; Music, Heritage, and Memory; the Sex Pistols; Pussy Riot; and Music and Work. Popular Music and Society is published five times per year and is a peer-reviewed academic journal supported by an international editorial board.

Peer Review Policy:
All research articles published in this journal have undergone rigorous peer review, based on initial editor screening and refereeing by at least two anonymous referees. Popular Music and Society , founded in 1971, publishes articles, book reviews, and audio reviews on popular music of any genre, time period, or geographic location. Popular Music and Society is open to all scholarly orientations toward popular music, including (but not limited to) historical, theoretical, critical, sociological, and cultural approaches. The terms „popular“ and „society“ are broadly defined to accommodate a wide range of articles on the subject. The journal focuses especially on music as a manifestation of popular culture.

Recent and forthcoming Special Issue topics include: Fandom; Musical Autobiographies; Music, Heritage, and Memory; the Sex Pistols; Pussy Riot; and Music and Work. Popular Music and Society is published five times per year and is a peer-reviewed academic journal supported by an international editorial board.

Peer Review Policy:
All research articles published in this journal have undergone rigorous peer review, based on initial editor screening and refereeing by at least two anonymous referees.

Introduction
Martin Cloonan & John Williamson
As we worked on editing the articles for this special edition, the phrase “the gig economy” seemed to be gaining popularity. At the end of 2015, it featured in the Financial Times’ year-end review, “Year in a Word,” and was defined as “the freelance economy, in which workers support themselves with a variety of part-time jobs that do not provide traditional benefits such as healthcare” (Hook). It also got its own entry in the OED as “a labor market characterized by the prevalence of short-term contracts or freelance work as opposed to permanent jobs” (“Gig Economy”), and, in general parlance, was used to refer to companies such as Uber and Deliveroo, who continually sub-contract workers for short periods of time, rather than offering them full-time positions. There were opposing views on whether the growth of this economy was a good or bad thing. Lobel notes that the gig economy can either “increase economic efficiency, reduce idleness” and encourage both “the entrepreneurial spirit” or be viewed as an “uber (pun intended) capitalist system that commoditizes every transaction.” We tend to the latter view.

We would also add two other notes of context to what has become something of a buzz phrase. The first is that the word gig is, of course, one which is common currency within popular music. Among the many theories as to where the term originates, many focus on it becoming common currency among musicians in the 1920s and 1930s (see “Gig”). In our own work, the term had certainly achieved regular currency within the UK’s Musicians’ Union by the 1940s. And while the nature of the “gig economy” has been unpacked in various contexts including law (Lobel), economics (Katz and Krueger), labor and trade union studies (King), and even porn studies (Berg), a form of work that has been integral to musicians’ existence has been greatly underrepresented in music. Musicians seek and play gigs while audiences attend them. Getting, playing, and going to “the gig” is a key part of being both a musician and a fan and thus popular music folklore.

Thus a term, which may have its origin in popular music culture, is now being associated with an employment situation that is deemed to be precarious and exploitative. This should at least provide food for thought for musician and fan alike. Once again it appears that, as Attali has suggested, musical praxis is the harbinger of wider societal trends.

The second point concerns the term gig economy itself. While new, it is actually something of a distillation of more nuanced and complex debates around the nature of labor that have been ongoing for many decades. The gig economy may be a new concept when it comes to the wider economy, but notions of precarious and immaterial labor in and around artistic endeavor are hardly new ones. Similarly, these have been addressed from a wide range of perspectives including, for example, cultural economics (Towse), politics (Banks), cultural geography (Gill and Pratt), American Studies (Ross), and development studies (Standing).

Perhaps more closely related to musicians and their work are theories developed in the growing body of work on the creative industries (see, for examples, Caves; Hesmondhalgh and Baker; Hesmondhalgh), though these pay little specific attention to musical labor.

Our argument here is that while the adoption of the term “gig economy” may be a consequence of the economic instability caused by the financial crash of 2008, musicians have been working in the economy of gigs for the best part of a century and the nature of this work has been largely neglected. As such, an economy becomes more universal than it appears. Understanding the economics of the working musician can provide great insight into the fate of workers more broadly under latter day capitalism. Advancing such an understanding lies at the heart of this special edition.

This edition emerges from a conference on Working in Music, which was held in Glasgow, Scotland, in January 2016. That conference was itself the culmination of a four-year project on the history of the UK’s Musicians’ History (see The Musicians’ Union), which was funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council and the Economic and Social Research Council (AH/I027215/1). The project and our subsequent book, Players’ Work Time, focused on the notion that musicians can be characterized as a particular sort of worker. Such a focus inexorably leads to a consideration of where musicians work and the sorts of employers (or, more often, sub-contractors) they interact with.

Our work highlighted some of the factors that shape the working lives of musicians. Prime amongst these is the constantly evolving state of technology. The story here is complex, involving, on the one hand, the potential displacement of musicians, but, on the other, ever-expanding creative horizons. Musicians’ working lives are also subject to such things as changes within the music industries, fluctuating competition, their geographical location, genre worked in, and the vicissitudes of musical tastes amongst the public. Factors such as class, race, gender, and sexuality are also vitally important. These can, of course, affect the fate of any worker, but our focus was on the particular ways in which musicians’ working lives are affected by the particular industries in which they seek to work. Thus, these are workers for whom the phrase “gig economy” has a special meaning.

A focus on musicians’ working lives – and the organizations which this has spawned – is not unique to our work, and it is important to recognize that there have been several important precursors. Ehrlich’s The Music Profession in Britain since the Eighteenth Century remains the benchmark for such work in the UK, while Kraft’s From Stage to Studio has charted the ways in which musicians interact with changing technology in the US Meanwhile, Loft’s unpublished PhD dissertation from 1950, “Musicians’ Guild and Union,” remains a vital source for those interested in the early development of musicians’ organizations in Europe and the US. That issue itself has been served better in the US than in many other places, and there have been important works on the American Federation of Musicians (AFM), notably Roberts’s Tell Tchaikovsky The News and Leiter’s The Musicians and Petrillo. Importantly, interest in the field of musical labor is growing. One example of this is the fact that while we were undertaking our work, the Canadian branch of the International Association for the Study of Popular Music (IASPM) held a conference in Hamilton, Ontario, in 2013, which resulted in a special edition of the journal MUSICultures (41:4, 2014).

The current volume extends all this work both industrially and geographically, reflecting not only the growing interest in musical labor but also a diversification in the ways in which this issue is being addressed. While the Anglophone nature of much of the previous work is again echoed in this volume, there is also a broadening of the scope as the articles by Karmy-Bolton and Silva offer important historical accounts of the development of musicians’ organizations in the Iberian diaspora, while Perrenoud and Bataille undertake more contemporary comparative analysis of musical labor in France and Switzerland.

All the articles here raise issues of how musicians are best conceived. Are they, for example, best seen as proletarian workers or as petit-bourgeois entrepreneurs? Silva’s article shows how musicians themselves can be conflicted on this issue, working as proletarians while also upholding romantic notions of artistic autonomy. Such conceptions were likely to be put to the test in situations where unions tried to maintain the employment of musicians whose work was deemed by the employers not to meet the standards necessary for art.

While issues surrounding genre and workplace, as well as the ways in which musical practice is funded, play key roles here, so do musicians’ subjectivity and the changing ways in which the public perceives them. For those wishing to promote working musicians’ welfare such issues raise a number of practical concerns. For example, are these people best represented by a professional association, which seeks to control access to the profession and to provide a range of provisions for musicians in need, or by a trade union orientated towards the workplace and the improvement of salaries and working conditions? Given the diversity of musical work and genres, is it possible for one body to represent all musicians within a nation state, or better that musicians’ representation comes via sectional groups such as classical or jazz musicians? In Ehrlich’s terms should such organizations admit both the “gentlemen” of the musical elite and the “players” of the bars and clubs? In addition, questions arise as to who should be admitted and what status a musician needs to have attained prior to membership. In the case of Chile one method of sorting this out was to only admit those proposed by existing members. In Portugal, Silva shows the importance of trying to ensure closed shop agreements with major employers.

Karmy-Bolton’s and Silva’s accounts also illustrate how musicians are subject to wider societal changes including, importantly, political regimes and legislation. In Chile, Karmy-Bolton shows how moves towards a welfare state effectively undermined the roles of mutual aid societies, and this, combined with the legalization of trade unions, led to the decline of one form of supporting musicians and to the rise of another. Silva shows how the Portuguese musical traditions and monarchy interacted in ways which helped to shape the country’s music profession and the legislative framework surrounding it. He also illustrates the impact of the change to republican government and, later, of changes to the taxation system. These are not determinist accounts, rather ones which suggest an ongoing dialectic and which also serve to highlight the importance of musicians’ own agency.

The ramifications of government policy are highlighted by Perrenoud and Bataille whose comparative analysis of musicians’ working practices in France and Switzerland shows how government policies can help shape perceptions of what a musician is. They show how the “bundle of tasks” which musicians undertake are shaped by the national socio-political context. In particular, the ways in which musicians who are casually employed become eligible for social security benefits is shown to be a key determinant of musical praxis. To be eligible for such benefits, French musicians need to play as many gigs as possible, while their Swiss counterparts struggle to become eligible as they need to demonstrate ongoing employment in a situation where they are much more likely to be employed in a series of ad hoc contracts. Added to this, the demand for teaching is higher in Switzerland and thus likely to form a higher percentage of the average musician’s income than it does in France. Such national nuances, described by Perrenoud and Bataille as “substantial differences,” reveal yet again that despite the importance of globalization and the international connectivity of the music industries, national regulation and cultures remain important and play a part in constructing musicians’ occupational identity.

Perrenoud and Bataille’s call for more comparative analysis certainly merits a response. In this context location also emerges as a key issue. This is reflected most in Karmy-Bolton’s chapter, which focuses on the Chilean port city of Valparaiso. This provides further evidence as to the importance of such places to musical praxis – and the issues raised for those wishing to secure suitable working conditions for musicians. For Perrenoud and Bataille, locality is a means via which to conceptualize musicians’ careers within popular music. They contrast the “local” and “cosmopolitan” career paths, linking the former to careers based on cover versions and the latter to composing original material. While recognizing the fluidity of such binarisms, they also show the pertinence of considering careers in such ways.

Gender issues are to the fore in the account offered by Porter and also features in Karmy’s contribution. Both show how patronizing attitudes to women musicians were underpinned by concerns about competition. Porter’s work locates such attitudes historically and shows how changing technology played a key role in the changing dynamics here. She also illustrates how “unscientific physiology” and “biological determinism” were used to argue against women’s equal participation in the music profession. Porter also shows how the formation of a public broadcaster, the B.B.C., served to further discriminate against women via the introduction of a marriage bar in 1932, which compelled all women to leave the organization upon wedding. This was just part of a wider “conservative and masculinist culture.”

Karmy-Bolton illustrates how existing social mores worked against women joining representative bodies, as women’s music was deemed to be suitable only for the domestic sphere where it could serve as evidence of feminine charm, rather than in a public workplace, which might illustrate a lack of suitable reserve. This echoes Porter’s descriptions of the ways in which certain musical career pathways were deemed to be more or less suitable for women. Porter also illustrates that underpinning many male arguments against women’s participation were concerns about competition. This engendered attitude within trade union circles around World War I that Porter sees as ranging from “patronizing to denigrating” included at least one union official waging war on these workers. Porter also suggests that the Society of Women Musicians appears to have had no formal contact with the male-dominated Amalgamated Musicians’ Union, thus bringing into question the entire concept of amalgamation. Of all the reasons for excluding musicians from membership in UK organizations founded to further their interests, gender emerges here as the most important. In this sense Porter’s revisionist account of the role of women musicians in early cinema is a welcome rejoinder to the prejudiced accounts that she uncovers.

It is obvious that a musician’s working life is constrained by the condition of the music industries at any given time. Silva shows the importance of the recording industry, Porter of cinema, and Karmy-Bolton of live performance. Meanwhile Richard Osborne’s article considers aspects of what happens to musical workers’ outputs, in this case those of performances. Osborne illustrates the importance of legal frameworks and of their interaction with technological developments. The demarcation of songwriters and performers emerges here as key dynamic with the legal framework serving to reinforce a hierarchy, which is not always reflective of musical praxis. As representatives of performers, musicians’ unions were always likely to be drawn into debates and negotiations around remuneration of recorded performances. Such interactions have a checkered history, but Osborne remains optimistic that performers can shift the balance of power.

Long and Barber look at the other side of this coin through an examination of the work of professional songwriters based on interviews with such workers. Their findings illustrate how important discourses of creativity are for these workers’ self-perception. Echoing Silva, they show how the obviously worldly processes of work – such as routine – rub up against romantic notions of art – which carries connotations of otherworldliness. Here, the notion of emotional labor emerges, encompassing a process wherein the routine processes of songwriting are imbibed with values, which are held to transcend the routine.

In all this, creativity is not in doubt. Rather it is the ways in which understandings of it are deployed and their complex interaction with notions such as authenticity, which help to shape these workers’ self-perceptions. Moreover, Long and Barber illustrate that creativity is routine rather than exceptional – at one level it is simply an aspect of the work that songwriters do. This involves certain working patterns which go beyond what might commonly be thought of as a “job,” the very notion of which Long and Barber problematize. Songwriters may write for others (as well as themselves), but in employment terms they work for themselves – and this has implications not only for their employment status but also for their working routines.

Migration emerges as another key factor. Karmy-Bolton shows how important concepts of mutualism, developed in Italy, were in Chile. Silva reveals how concerns about the presence of foreign musicians (and their wage demands) in Portugal were countered by attempts to make international agreements between musicians’ organizations whereby attempts were made not to harm the employment prospects of domestic musicians.

The articles also pose questions about methodology. How is musical labor best investigated? Karmy-Bolton and Silva both draw on archival records from musicians’ representative organizations, something we have benefitted from in our own work (Williamson and Cloonan). We are aware of how vital such sources are, but also mindful of their one-sided and limited nature. There is thus a need to supplement such sources and approaches such as Osborne does with his examination of legal documents, Perrenoud and Bataille’s use of surveys, and the interviews of Long and Barber, all of which provide useful insights.

Of course the diversity of approaches within research on musical labor cannot be divorced from the diversity of musical praxis itself. Musicians work in all sorts of places, for all sorts of reasons, under all sorts of conditions. All of human life is here.
Notes on Contributors

Martin Cloonan is Professor of Popular Music Politics at the University of Glasgow. His research interests lie in the political economy of popular music and issues of freedom of musical expression. Martin chairs Freemuse, the World Forum on Music and Censorship (www.freemuse.org). He was principal investigator on the Musicians’ Union: A Social History project (www.muhistory.com). With John Williamson, he wrote Players’ Work Time: A History of the British Musicians’ Union.

John Williamson is Lord Kelvin Adam Smith Fellow in Popular Music Studies at the University of Glasgow and was researcher on the Musicians’ Union history project. John’s research interests focus on popular music history and the music industries. He is currently researching a history of music on Scottish television. With Martin Cloonan, he wrote Players’ Work Time: A History of the British Musicians’ Union.

Articles

The “Missing Muscle”: Attitudes to Women Working in Cinema and Music 1910–1930

Laraine Porter

In the 1900s as Edwardian women musicians moved from music teaching into public performance, cinemas offered a safe place: out of the spotlight and in the relative anonymity of the darkened auditorium. The rapid growth in cinemas from the 1910s also meant that women were needed to fill the demand for ensembles, pianists, and vocalists, a demand that greatly increased during World War I however, women faced successive waves of backlashes and debates about their abilities played out in the music and popular press, in trade and fan magazines, and in the Musicians’ Union. Evidence of women’s experience can also be gleaned from personal testimony, diaries, and autobiography, but this is piecemeal and represents only a fraction of what was a considerable occupation for women. Focusing on cinema musicianship, this article will examine the battles for women entering the profession between 1900 and 1930.In the 1900s as Edwardian women musicians moved from music teaching into public performance, cinemas offered a safe place: out of the spotlight and in the relative anonymity of the darkened auditorium. The rapid growth in cinemas from the 1910s also meant that women were needed to fill the demand for ensembles, pianists, and vocalists, a demand that greatly increased during World War I however, women faced successive waves of backlashes and debates about their abilities played out in the music and popular press, in trade and fan magazines, and in the Musicians’ Union. Evidence of women’s experience can also be gleaned from personal testimony, diaries, and autobiography, but this is piecemeal and represents only a fraction of what was a considerable occupation for women. Focusing on cinema musicianship, this article will examine the battles for women entering the profession between 1900 and 1930.

Are Musicians “Ordinary Workers”? Labor Organization and the Question of “Artistic Value” in the First Years of the Portuguese Musicians’ Class Association: 1909–1913
Manuel Deniz Silva

This article explores how unionized Portuguese musicians tried to address the paradoxes of their social position in a period marked by the development of the entertainment industries. While considering themselves as being part of the “great army of workers,” the members of the Portuguese Musicians’ Class Association (ACMP) remained strongly attached to the ideal of the symphony orchestra and the notion of musical art as a pure and non-market “spiritual activity.” I argue that the study of union debates can offer new perspectives on the ways musicians have historically, aesthetically, and politically constructed their own representations of what being a “professional musician” is.This article explores how unionized Portuguese musicians tried to address the paradoxes of their social position in a period marked by the development of the entertainment industries. While considering themselves as being part of the “great army of workers,” the members of the Portuguese Musicians’ Class Association (ACMP) remained strongly attached to the ideal of the symphony orchestra and the notion of musical art as a pure and non-market “spiritual activity.” I argue that the study of union debates can offer new perspectives on the ways musicians have historically, aesthetically, and politically constructed their own representations of what being a “professional musician” is.

Musical Mutualism in Valparaiso during the Rise of the Labor Movement (1893–1931)
Eileen Karmy

Conceptualizing Creativity and Strategy in the Work of Professional Songwriters
Paul Long & Simon Barber

Is Equitable Remuneration Equitable? Performers’ Rights in the UK
Richard Osborne

Artist, Craftsman, Teacher: “Being a Musician” in France and Switzerland
Marc Perrenoud & Pierre Bataille

Book Reviews

Hip-Hop Headphones: A Scholar’s Critical Playlist
Kenneth Lewis

The Kinks: A Thoroughly English Phenomenon
Steven Hamelman

Made in Korea: Studies in Popular Music
Motti Regev

Audio Review

Man’s Best Friend: A Canine Cornucopia
B. Lee Cooper
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