Music Industry

Published on November 11th, 2016 | by Amber Healy

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What Trump’s Presidency (ugh) Might Mean for Artists

In January, Donald Trump will move into 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. (That felt terrible to write.)

Among other things he’s promised to do in his first 100 days in office, he’s promising to repeal the Affordable Care Act, aka “Obamacare,” which helped people purchase health insurance at relatively reasonable rates. Yes, it’s a controversial law, but coverage has boomed in the past few years and with something like 60% of bankruptcies coming from unexpected medical bills, it beats the alternative.

But what will the new president’s intentions mean for musicians?

The Future of Music Coalition is a Washington, D.C.-based organization that works on behalf of musicians on matters of policy and regulation.  In a piece posted Wednesday, while at least half of America and probably a good portion of Canadians were shaking their heads in disbelief, FoMC’s National Organizing Director Kevin Erickson takes a look at some of the possible changes coming down the road.

“Before the implementation of the Act, our 2013 research (conducted jointly with AHIRC) found that 53% of musicians responded were uninsured, about three times the rate of the general population,” he notes. “Since the ACA’s passage, the Republican controlled Congress has held a seemingly endless series of votes to repeal it. Now, without Obama’s veto standing in the way, the future is unclear. Will countless newly insured musicians lose their coverage?”

There’s also the question of net neutrality protections, established by the Federal Communications Commission two years ago, implement in 2015 and hated by most of the right. A self-proclaimed businessman and hater of all regulation, it’s possible Trump will work to repeal the protections, which prohibit the creation of “fast lanes” and “slow lanes” on internet or wifi connections. “Fair online access enables artists to build careers, generate revenue and connect with diverse audiences,” Erickson writes. “Musicians and independent labels backed this concept even more before the term was coined and fought hard for tough net neutrality rules for more than a decade…Trump has indicated opposition to net neutrality, though it’s not clear he understands what it is.

To put it simply, “we’re worried about our fellow citizens,” he writes. “We’re horrified by the rise of hate crimes that we’ve seen over the course of this campaign (likely as a result of campaign rhetoric, crimes targeting Muslims were up 78% last year). We’re deeply trouble by the normalization of misogynistic language and sexual assault of women, having witnessed the corrosive impacts of such behavior in the music world. We’re worried about protections, civil liberties and basic respect for people of color, for immigrants and the disabled and for LGBT communities. …we fear a future where artists not aligned with privilege and power may not feel free to raise their voices.”

While it might seem a little silly to worry about the fate of musicians, Erickson stresses that “In a divided country struggling to overcome the ugly legacy of white supremacy, music is a uniquely powerful force for alternately confronting injustice and bringing people together, for expanding our capacity for empathy, for leading us to better ways of living together. It’s a vehicle for critical perspectives to be advanced, galvanizing movements, building communities, introducing new voices and ideals, and speaking truth to power.”

Similarly, the Freedom of the Press Foundation, which has stood shoulder to shoulder with FoMC on net neutrality issues among others, reminds us of Trumps contempt, if not outright hatred, of the press.

“In the past 18 months along, he has threatened to sue newspapers or journalists over a dozen times and said he will attempt to ‘open up libel laws’ as president to make it easier to take newspapers to court. He has attacked and insulted members of the media almost daily and blacklisted countless news outlets over the course of his campaign. He has blamed ‘freedom of the press’ for a terrorist attack in New York and has said the press has ‘too much protection’ under the First Amendment. And much more.”

By the way? This is one of Trump’s first tweets since Tuesday night:

Buckle your seatbelts and grab your crash helmets, friends. It’s gonna get really bumpy, really fast.

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About the Author

I write about music policy and lawsuits because they're endlessly fascinating.


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