Slash report — season 1 / What do we know so far?

“Some­thing I didn’t real­ize when I star­ted mak­ing music was thatany entre­pren­eur­i­al endeavor involves hir­ing people, cre­at­ing a com­pany, and becom­ing a busi­nessper­son. So, while you may know me as a musi­cian, in prac­tice I am also a boss… This is sim­ul­tan­eously very cool and very stress­ful. I’m def­in­itely not the bestor most exper­i­enced boss. I’m also a young, female boss, which can present a very par­tic­u­lar set of prac­tic­al and emo­tion­al challenges” 

Grimes in Rook­ie Year­book Three–2014

    Musicians are slashers

    Being a “slash­er” for a musi­cian means they have two or three pro­jects or jobs (or more) at the same time, and they dabble in var­ied and some­times rad­ic­ally dif­fer­ent envir­on­ments (mainstream/indie, brands/community pro­jects). It is simply the sum of all of these jobs that is enough to make a living. 

    Finally, musi­cians must devel­op new busi­ness mod­els based on the diver­si­fic­a­tion of activ­it­ies and entre­pren­eur­ship mindset. 

    It also means they have short­er and short­er careers with inter­rup­tions. There are two major reas­ons for this :

    • First, the musi­cians cre­ate music pro­jects instead of play­ing in bands. This vari­ation of the words sug­gests musi­cians sim­ul­tan­eously work on sev­er­al short-term music pro­jects. At the same time, musi­cians men­tion they also have music-related jobs. They work as back­ing musi­cians (live or stu­dio), artist­ic pro­du­cers, video-game com­posers, music teach­ers, they run record­ing stu­di­os, or they are involved in com­munity pro­jects. Most of them explain it’s a fin­an­cial con­straint as well as a ration­al choice to keep on work­ing in the music sector. 
    • Second, the music industry is “short-ter­mism”. It means the industry wants tal­ent to be delivered to them ready-made and they’re not pre­pared to take a risk over a long peri­od of time invest­ing in tal­ent. Then musi­cians can’t count on labels to devel­op their pro­ject for 2 or 3 albums as it used to be. In fact, record labels want to sign acts that are already developed. There are excep­tions, but this is the gen­er­al trend occur­ring in the industry.

    Musicians are entrepreneurs

    But they don’t know it. In the absence of a stable pro­fes­sion­al envir­on­ment that can advise them, while wait­ing for a “sig­na­ture” by an estab­lished pro­fes­sion­al, they are asked to prove them­selves and to devel­op their artist­ic pro­ject as an entre­pren­eur­i­al pro­ject and there­fore to devel­op skills that are far removed from their artist­ic skills.

    They are at the same time musi­cians, com­munity man­agers, admin­is­trat­ors, book­ers, press officers…

    Digit­al tools have con­sid­er­ably accen­tu­ated the multi-task­ing side of musi­cians since they now have tools that allow them to com­mu­nic­ate dir­ectly with their com­munit­ies, mon­et­ise their live streams, and admin­is­ter their own online shop. They need to estab­lish a dir­ect-to-fan strategy in order to make this com­munity more cap­tive. A real cus­tom­er rela­tion­ship that is organ­ised, thought out and reflec­ted upon.

    Musicians should be more and more resilient

    Everything is going very fast. Uses in music, con­sump­tion and its dif­fu­sion. We need to be on per­man­ent standby to be able to integ­rate these new uses and this new social net­work. As the health crisis demon­strated in 2020, musi­cians are very much affected by the upheavals in our soci­ety and must devel­op a capa­city to rebound in all situ­ations. A study by Musi­cian’s Uni­on shows that more than ⅓ of Eng­lish musi­cians want to retrain fol­low­ing fin­an­cial problems.

    Musicians are not only white-male musicians

    White male-dom­in­ated cul­ture has led both to gender and music genres imbal­ances on music fest­ivals and ven­ues lineups. Regard­ing the issue of gender, a study by the USC Annen­berg Inclu­sion Ini­ti­at­ive finds that over the last eight years, women have been vastly under­rep­res­en­ted in pop­u­lar music. The study ana­lyzed 600 songs from the Bill­board Hot 100 released between 2012 and 2019 and found only 22 per cent of those songs were by female artists. Even few­er songs –12 per cent –had female song­writ­ing cred­its. And the greatest prob­lem of the gender gap is in the record­ing stu­dio with less than 3 per cent…

    Slash Program

    Slash is a Europe-wide train­ing pro­gram build-up by Trem­po with the great sup­port of SACEM. It aims to train emer­ging pro­fes­sion­al musi­cians in their career devel­op­ment. It is co-fin­anced by the European Uni­on through its Cre­at­ive Europe pro­gram (Music Moves Europe).

    The European Commission’s sup­port for the pro­duc­tion of this pub­lic­a­tion does not con­sti­tute an endorse­ment of the con­tents, which reflect the views only of the authors, and the Com­mis­sion can­not be held respons­ible for any use which may be made of the inform­a­tion con­tained therein.