Life On The Road Essay

1095 words - 5 pages

Over the last decade the music industry has emerged reconfigured from a state of crisis in which record sales have plummeted while revenue from live music performance have increased. From this so called ‘Mp3 Crisis’, the live music industry has emerged resilient to the challenges faced by the recording industry vis-a-vis online distribution and music piracy. While recording studios around the world are shuttering, the live music industry is booming. Tours are grossing unprecedented revenues; ticket prices are higher with concerts selling out faster; and artists are now deriving their livelihood through live performance more so than record sales. The shift towards live music complicates the geography of the music industry. Unlike record distribution, which comparatively is spatially limitless, live music is spatially and temporally confined to a given place. As such, artists must tour from city to city to access a wider market. Artists, workers, and their equipment travel, often by bus or van, performing nightly in different cities and venues. The act of touring is more than just an exercise in economic mobility or migration, but could be understood as work in motion. Tours have a complex division of labour, which include mobile, local, global and translocal labour inputs. As of yet, very little research has explored the reconfigured, touring centric music industry. My PhD research seeks to fill an apparent lacuna in the study of the music industry by exploring music touring through three questions related to cultural economy of music touring:
1. What is the personal experience of the artist or worker on tour?
2. How are the logistics of multiscalar labour inputs reconciled?
3. What political, cultural, and economic factors affect the labour geography of touring?
Movement in geography is understood as a process of translocation where people, commodities, ideas, and capital move or diffuse from one place or scale to another. The process of movement is operationalized in numerous concepts including: migration, mobility, displacement, globalization, etc. These frameworks describe movements as having a clear vector; the object of study moves directionally from one place to another. In these frameworks, the focus is on the relationships that determine these vectors. Touring however, uses movement as an embedded part of the production system. I suggest that this industrially embedded form of movement is better described as motion. In my study of touring, I want to study the motion of tours not just the movement of music as a commodity to its termini. While tours move with clear direction, the various places on its path are less significant than how the production moves through the space between places. Numerous industries are organized and reliant on production systems in constant motion. Industries such as circuses, trade shows, tourism, shipping, and emergency aid delivery are not simply migratory, nor are they moving with a clear start and...

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