Life on the road

997 Words4 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 ...

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...labour. There are numerous frictions in touring, including border crossings, immigration, and work visas. In Canada, new foreign worker fees have increased the cost for artists to perform in Canada.
I will answer my research questions using mixed methods approaches including ethnography, participant observation, interviews, and textual analysis. I will conduct interviews with workers in the touring music industry, including: artists, promoters, technicians, and venue staff I have an extensive professional background in the live music that will allow me to carry out participant observation by going on tour. The department of Geography at The University of British Columbia is an ideal institution to carry out this research. Trevor Barnes has agreed to supervise this research. Vancouver is an ideal city for this research as many tours start, pass through, or end here.
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