POPLIVE researcher Rick Everts successfully defended his dissertation ‘Making a Living in Live Music‘ on Friday 17 February 2023 at Erasmus University Rotterdam. Within the POPLIVE project he studied early-career pop musicians in The Netherlands. Ahead of his PhD defence, Rick has been interviewed by Dutch news radio De Nieuws BV (Radio 1). The interview can be found here.
Short summary of Rick’s dissertation:
While the life of a pop musician may seem appealing, their careers are characterized by low odds of success and precarious working conditions. Moreover, over the last 20 years changes in the recorded and live music industries have created a drastically different playing field for early-career musicians. Two sets of innovations have been particularly influential: first, consumer-related innovations made possible by the Internet, such as peerto-peer sharing and streaming, have opened up a virtually unlimited music library for audiences, reducing their need to buy physical sound carriers such as CDs. Second, thanks to a series of dissemination-related innovations caused by the new recording and distribution technologies, such as home computers and audio recording software, musicians can now produce and distribute their music without having to rely on industry intermediaries. Due to these innovations, recorded music revenues have plummeted globally and live music has become an increasingly important source of income for musicians. These changes have also diminished the economic power of traditional industry intermediaries and entrepreneurial and DIY business models have become the dominant approach for new aspiring musicians. In order to make a living under these new conditions, they have had to take on new tasks. In this dissertation, I explore how early-career pop musicians build a career in the changing Dutch popular music industries to gain an understanding of how such musicians are coping with these low odds, precarious conditions and changes in the live and recorded music industries. To answer this question, in this dissertation I focus on three sub-themes: 1) the careers of early-career musicians, 2) the role of popular music education in their careers, and 3) their careers in live music. Due to its increased importance as a source of income for musicians, I will pay special attention to live music. For each of these themes, I conducted an empirical study.