An integral and important part of our culture has been pushed into the realm of the mere hobby. Something is missing from the world of music, and that something is fundamental.

The life of a musician is not a glamorous one. For most, it’s a struggle for survival, all to try and make a life through a passion, a talent, a determination to express something outside of the constrained expectations of society. It’s not a journey for the slacker or the unserious, it’s a difficult path that takes a certain kind of bravery. The life of a creative is challenging, but it can be a rewarding life that fulfils needs and gives us something to offer and enrich our world with.

But the conditions to do this are scarce. Almost non-existent. Today if you want to be a musician, it’s either a struggle to survive or rely on the wealth of an older generation.

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For many musicians in the working class, music will only ever be a hobby as they spend countless days working to supplement their passion. The path to a career in music for working class musicians has dried up, and now we are left with a great art held in the hands of the financially comfortable, and the class of people that hold the time, resources, and means to build the foundations of a creative career.

What would the musical and cultural fabric of the UK look like without The Beatles, David Bowie, Joy Division, The Smiths, Black Sabbath, and so on? These musicians contributed so much to the light and colour of UK life and culture, yet the paths they once walked are now closed. There is no traditional pub or club circuit anymore, and nothing to build the stepping stones to a financially viable career. There is no beginning stage reliance on the state like so many beloved creatives once relied (the dole was the real lifesaver for musicians during the 1970s-1980s neoliberal transition).

Without anything to hold up a life in music as a serious and viable venture, where different groups of people are in the conversation, add to, and enhance our cultural perspective, then the future is at a serious loss. It is difficult to comprehend how much potential is lost when we see our cultural roles as just a distraction from the aims and goals of a healthy, productive society.

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Since the 1970s, we have seen the number of those in direct creative work from a working class background significantly decrease to just 7.9%. Andrew Miles of the University of Manchester, lead author of the report, told website magazine Hyperallergic that “people from the higher middle classes are four times more likely to be in a creative job than people from the working class, and this hasn’t changed over 40 years”. Working class people make up 39% of the UK’s workforce yet their presence in the wider creative industries sits at 23%. This implies that this world is not for them, and maybe they just weren’t lucky enough.

But despite that, it’s not smooth sailing at all for the more financially well-off and those with the resources to really make a go of it. A whole younger generation of musicians are wholly reliant on the wealth of their parents. It’s not an insult to those fortunate enough to have that opportunity, but it speaks volumes to just how little incentive there is overall to live a spiritually rich, creative life.

Being forced to rely on background – coupled with the common assumption that the budding musician will one day have a return to a cold-hearted, 'serious' reality – is pervasive. It adds a societal resentment where opportunity can only be created by the few, and even then, that opportunity remains thin on the ground.

A musician’s first tour will not pay for itself, it will operate at a loss. It’s an investment in someone’s talent, in an area where a true financial value cannot be placed. The ones that succeed are the ones most likely to bear the brunt of these financial challenges, and those people are far more likely to be picked from a certain class of artist.

There has been a lot of love lost in this fight. The cultural narratives of today are rooted in our social and political culture and acted upon as a convenient weapon for the political class. We have lost a sense of wonder, curiosity, and so many things that make life so very human in this path we have taken. Do we want to see the world through grey, or do we want to create conditions where we are the beneficiaries of musicians and artists who are able to express themselves without barriers?