When I started Jazz in the Park, I didn’t know much about the music industry. I had a general idea of how things worked, but my main motivation came from my vision of what Jazz in the Park could be. However, the years of experience have allowed me and my colleagues to develop a good understanding of the industry and, more importantly, our role and potential in it.
I could go on for pages about this topic, but I’ll try to keep it concise and give you the big picture. There are three important parts to the music industry: creators, distributors, and consumers. The artists create, the distributors facilitate the access to music (festivals, online platforms, clubs, etc.), and the consumers are essentially all of us. However, things are not that simple: these three major parts interact with each other a lot and are interdependent. In my opinion, the music industry in Romania is not in a good place right now, but it has the potential to be. In my vision, there are two important reasons why:
- On the one hand, online streaming has disrupted everything. I am not yet sure whether the long-term effects are positive or negative, but for now, the industry is suffering because of it. Except for the very big artists, online music is not a significant source of income, and the online world has destroyed the idea of buying “physical” albums. Because of that, the pressure on artists’ income falls heavily on events, which is not fair to either the artists or the event organizers.
- On the other hand, the context in our country is not very encouraging for the development of a music industry. Let’s face it: the music industry has only really existed in Romania for 30 years, so it is still in its beginnings. And like anything in development, it needs to be helped and encouraged to grow. Countries give tax breaks to new investors or create good entrepreneurial contexts. Well, the same approach should exist when it comes to Culture. But at the moment, we don’t have infrastructure, we don’t have programs that encourage artists, we don’t have facilities for distributors, but we have a fickle public (forgive me for saying so, dear readers). In short, there is not much entrepreneurial motivation to work in music, regardless of what role you choose to have. But there is passion, which can compensate.
We, the current generation (artists, cultural operators, public), are the sacrificial generation. Maybe it won’t be the best for us, but for the sake of music, we have to do something, in hopes that we at least create a context and a foundation on which the next generation can build. We need to learn to live from this and, at the same time, to increase our value.
We need event infrastructure. Sadly, the vast majority of cities in Romania have 2-3 live event spaces. Cluj, for example, has only one left. But we are in need of these spaces. Because artists need rehearsals, and the public needs access to events. In my youth, I always dreamed of big stadium concerts, but now I dream of a 200-seat hall. The Beatles, Iggy Pop, Blondie, Miles Davis…all the great artists started in such spaces.
We need to cooperate better. The creator-distributor relationship needs to be stronger. This relationship has been damaged by the pressure I mentioned earlier, namely that everyone has to make a living from events. But in reality, for us to grow as an industry, we need to help each other. Distributors need to create as many contexts as possible for artists, and artists need to support any project started by music entrepreneurs.
We need inspiration. Creativity is like a muscle that needs to be exercised. And inspiration is something we don’t have enough access to. We don’t have enough contexts in which to stimulate artists to create and to also help them. We need more financial support. With a few exceptions, it is very difficult to make a living from music in Romania right now. Whether you are an artist, a club owner, or an event organizer, your motivation clearly comes from a passion for music. If this pressure of day-to-day living were lessened, the mind would be much more liberated to deliver good projects.
We need a curious audience. Now, thanks to the internet, we have instant access to almost any artist in the world. But the fact that we have such easy access, I think, reduces curiosity. We need an audience willing to try, appreciate the live music experience, and come with an open heart to encourage an artist to express themselves. Of course, the Romanian state could also help. But I think we still need some time to realize the real impact of culture and music on our daily lives.
But what I’m writing here doesn’t have to have a sad ending. Because there is still an opportunity here. There is an opportunity to do what we don’t have. That’s what we have in mind with Jazz in the Park. You’ll see.
And as an audience, we can all help. By participating, by being curious, by buying music in all its forms, by giving local artists a chance.
Alin Vaida, Director of Jazz in the Park