This Op-Ed piece was published in today's Globe and Mail. Do you agree that artists and arts organizations have been forced to become more 'entrepreneurial?
Thomas Hodd teaches Canadian Literature at Université de Moncton.
Fifteen years ago I worked in the private sector as a proposal writer for an I.T. services firm. I sat in board meetings with some pretty high-level people. And much of the conversation involved words like “export,” “delivery of services,” “marketability,” and “strategic positioning.”
What’s disturbing is that I now sit on arts and culture boards and they use the same language.
Not so long ago “arts and culture” was all one needed to say when talking about the country’s story-tellers, actors, film makers, dancers, artists, poets, and musicians. Everyone knew what you meant. Then it became “the cultural sector,” now the buzzword is “cultural industries.”
What’s behind this shift? It started innocently enough. During the recession, governments cut back on funding for the arts as part of an overall debt reduction strategy. But the exception became the norm, forcing the arts community to look elsewhere for money. Soon corporate sponsorship became the mainstay for many arts organizations.
Before the live-music industry became a billion-dollar behemoth, being on the road was, for many bands, a wild west of sex, drugs and even some rock'n'roll. Hedonism was rife, and it wasn't just the musicians who pillaged. Their road crews were right there with them, benefiting from a macho atmosphere where the expectation was that after they had unloaded the gear they would match their employers in debauchery.
Some roadies became famous in their own right. Led Zeppelin's tour manager, for one: there's a Richard Cole Appreciation Society on Facebook, glorifying the man who was, according to the unofficial band biography Hammer of the Gods, "responsible for much of the mayhem" around the group. Then there was a metal roadie called Jef Hickey, who carved out such a reputation that half an episode of Vice.com's 2011 documentary series, On the Road, is devoted to him. Rock musicians speak of him in awed tones: "One time we were on a plane, and he went up to this stewardess and asked her if she had any drugs," claimed former Queens of the Stone Age bassist Nick Oliveri – and that was onlythe most printable of Hickey's antics.
Roadie annals are full of such stories, many of them involving unpleasant treatment of female fans. But that era has long passed, and with it the idea of roadies as folk legends. They have since osmosed into "techs" – low-key professionals who often have degrees and treat the job as a job. "Bad behaviour isn't acceptable any more, to be drunk and carrying on," says Chris McDonnell, the Charlatans' sound engineer. "A lot more is expected of you. People think it's crazy backstage, and it's girls and drugs, but it's not. It's people working and having a cup of tea."
Please note! FACTOR's Sponsorship program guidelines have been changed/clarified. New and genre-specific music festivals, broadcaster conferences, workshops, industry association events, and international showcases are examples of projects that may be eligible under this program. See more: https://factor.ca/ourprograms/
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Mastering engineer Noah Mintz of The Lacquer Channel is a go-to mastering engineer for a huge variety of clients, inlcuding lots of major label acts, plus MNS members like Matt Mays, Wintersleep, The Town Heroes, Gloryhound, Dog Day, and Mardeen. In this blog post, he offers insight into the mysterious world of mastering, and lists off the tools of his trade.
There are those high pressured, perilous jobs that are not for the meek. The U.S. Secret Service; a window cleaner for the world's tallest building—Dubia's 2,716 feet wonder Burj Khalifa; Kanye West's publicist. But during the '80s, one would be hard pressed to find a gig more intimidating or unpredictable than working as a music engineer for Prince. Susan Rogers has lived to tell the tale.
An Associate Professor of Music Production and Engineering at the prestigious Berklee College from 1983 to 1988, Rogers had the ultimate insider's view of the obsessive, glorious run of arguably pop music's most prolific talent.
"You are talking about someone who would play a show from 8:30 p.m. to 11:30 p.m. and then perform at an afterparty," she recalls of Prince's torrid pace. "Then I would book a recording studio for 1 a.m. while on tour and Prince would work on his music or say Sheila E's record. There is so much great, unreleased material from Prince. We would work all day and night long, and then he would be up the next morning ready to do it all over again."
A federal immigration regulation, dubbed a "tour tax" by small concert venues opposing the rule that targeted foreign musicians and roadies, has been wiped off the books.
Included within reforms that Jason Kenney, the employment minister, and Chris Alexander, the immigration minister, have announced the removal of a work permit requirement for certain foreign artists who perform in bars and restaurants.
In a federal bulletin, the change was made to provide "consistent treatment to foreign artists, regardless of venue type."
Previously, foreign artists who wanted to perform in bars or restaurants required a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA), which cost operators and promoters money and time to provide, and prevented some acts from performing in certain venues.
The LMIA is no longer required, the federal bulletin says.