(c) Kati Zubek
Topic: Why Musicians are not Musicians anymore
About: Leipzig is a City of Music. It has been home and sphere of influence for Bach, Mendelssohn, Schumann, Wagner, Mahler and Grieg and others. But there is also musical history being written in Leipzig today. The city is a vibrant breeding ground for new music - and even more important for new ways of being a musician.
Whereas Bach was patronaged by princely courts and the Protestant church Mendelssohn and his successors became musicians during a time of a rising middle class, which changed their economical position and self-conception fundamentally. Within the new social system they became highly trained specialists, funded by wealthy citizens and thereby - like other goods - dependent to the free market price. Contrarily to this economic position the identity of the musician evolveded towards an artistical genie, that works disconnected from everyday life.
It took over 200 years and the sensations of dadaists and surrealists to break this ideal image. In the 20th century everyday objects and topics became art and music could be industrially reproduced. The musical genie had to step from the podium and became freelancer on a mass market. Music became on of the most favored hobbies and the market grew exponentially. This professionalization created a whole industry of music. While the ideal of the independent genie lives forth in our imaginaries, some of the most popular musicians of the late 20th century have been employees of record companies.
During the last 15 years the digital revolution is changing the fundamentals of being a musician in an astonishing speed. Digital production goods like recording or producing software become affordable and easy to handle which leads to a democratization of music production. The web offered in parallel new distribution channels and cracked the linear structure of radio and TV in favor of individualized listening to music. But we are still in the middle of this transformation, the economic position and self-conception of the musician in the digital age is just about to change.
The Leipzig music scene is a laboratory for this transformation exploring new digital avenues. Projects like "I AM A FOREST" show the outlines of being a musician in the digital age: opening the production process for participation, removing limitations of access to music and calculating the own subsitence under digital conditions.