[…]So is it time for artists to strap on a hard hat? Maybe unions or artists’ guilds can serve and protect an embattled creative class. With musicians typically operating without record labels, journalists increasingly working as freelancers as newspapers shed staff, and book publishing beginning what looks like a period of compression, unions might take some of the risk and sting out of our current state of creative destruction.
“Musicians are trying to negotiate this changing landscape,” says Kristin Thomson, once a guitarist for the band Tsunami and an owner of indie label Simple Machines, now a director of the Future of Music Coalition. Many musicians ask the group how to deal with today’s complicated mix of outlets and platforms, or what to expect from label support. “Others saw their mechanical royalties falling off a cliff. There are revenue steams out there, but they’re all changing so fast. This is a difficult time for artists trying to understand it all. And there’s a lot more competition because the barriers to entry are a lot lower.”