One of the biggest complaints local musicians have about living and working in New Orleans is that it’s hard to make a living at being a musician here. Hurricane Katrina scattered many of our best musicians to the four corners of the country and with everything else they have to deal with in rebuilding their lives being able to make a decent living as a musician shouldn’t be one of them.
Lack of infrastructure for music people I think is one of the problems, perhaps the main problem. Yes, there are a lot of clubs to play at but many of these clubs have no cover charge and thus musicians don’t really get what would be called their fair share of the revenue that comes into the city from the tourist trade or even the local trade.
What I think is needed are resources for learning about the music business, support and just how to market oneself in the music community. After all, the music scene is just was important to our city as the food scene and Mardi Gras and everything else that attracts people to visit and live here.
Now the group Sweet Home New Orleans, a social service organization for musicians funded by the Ford Foundation, is trying to change the game and give to the community of excellent musicians here just the kind of support, training and infrastructure they need to really make a good living in the Crescent City.
The Ford Foundation Behind New Possibilities for New Orleans Musicians
As related in OffBeat Magazine:
Executive Director Sue Mobley… said “We’re shifting from a social service model to economic empowerment, focusing on music business training, documentation and advocacy to improve the conditions for musicians and Mardi Gras Indians to capitalize on their work. We see an opportunity in the shift to digital in the larger music industry to provide access to diversified income streams to working musicians and Mardi Gras Indians who have traditionally relied solely on live performance and as a result lived subsistence levels.”
The new plan will focus on three main areas: programming and partnership; advocacy; and research and documentation. Programs with community partners will include training in entrepreneurship and self-management; digital skills and access; marketing and consumer engagement; licensing for film and TV; project fundraising; and touring best practices.
This is an idea that has been long in need for our local musicians. I’m glad to see that someone had finally stepped up to the plate to make this happen. It will be so much better for musicians here and just a better deal all around for tourists and locals.