Why the Music Business Matters

Many of the richest nations use public funds to develop a home grown musical culture and to nurture local talent. The costs are often paid by federal funds, arts councils, personal donations, or cultural grants that focus on supporting traditional cultural endeavors in the fine arts areas of painting, opera, and “home created” contemporary music. 

Funds are often drawn from public and private partnerships as well as regional and municipal governments. This financial support can be complex and expensive and can differ from country to country; they’re all driven by market forces as well as cultural demands.  The threats of government budget cuts are just an election away.

Under President Obama, the relatively modest U.S. budget for supporting the National Endowment for the Arts’ was 148 million budget in 2016 with only 8 million going to music and opera programs.  That budget is now on the chopping block under President Trump. But it’s not just happening in the USA. Even countries with a higher cultural focus than the United States are also cutting their budgets. It may seem trivial to worry about music spending with so many other pressing issues at stake in our country but not all cultures see it that way. 

Iceland has a population of about 330,000 people — less than half the population of Vermont! Yet Iceland is a “heavy weight” in terms of music achievement. In fact, all the Scandinavian   nations funding of music has soared from less than $19 million to nearly 47 million in 2017; an impressive achievement for an area of only 27 million people.

“Whether a nation has a right wing or left wing government, there seems to be a consistency in the culture”. American music is often a magnet that has a magnetic affect on cultures!

But American music lacks effective funding.  America’s music industry was basically market-driven and when digitization became the new media tool in early 2000, it caused the bottom to fall out of the music business. Nevertheless, the United States music industry still accounts for $16 billion globally.

But what could it be with “just a little help from our friends?”