Universal Basic Income has been a term bandied about in the news and across the internet in the last few years, and I think that if a political region implemented Universal Basic Income, it would usher in an artistic golden age for indie creatives.
I’ve never met a true artist in it for the money. We are creative souls and resourceful entrepreneurs who would be miserable in a “normal” job. We have always been willing to trade the comforts of a stable and respectable life for our freedom and creative drive.
But let’s be honest amongst ourselves. It’s getting harder and harder to make it work financially. The music industry is changing as fast as technology is evolving.
While computers and recording gear have gone down in price and made it possible for us to record at home and upload our music directly to streaming services… Everyone else and their cat can too, over saturating the market.
Pubs and other venues traditionally hosting live music are shutting down (dating apps like Tinder are partially to blame, according to a former bar owner – singles don’t go out to mingle like they used to, they just swipe from the comfort of their couch).
Commercial radio stations are all being consolidated and bought up by large media companies, which is why they all play the same songs. College and Community radio is losing funding, particularly in conservative/right-wing governed areas.
And let’s not forget that seemingly every month, there is a new story that comes out of a musician with millions of Spotify streams… Who still can’t pay the rent. I’ve witnessed artists berate their fans for not buying a physical CD, despite CD players being a rarity in 2019.
I’m not bringing up all this to be a pessimist or ruin your day. But this societal system is not favouring musicians, and one of the saddest things I am seeing is talented artists quit their bands to go off to school, or sell their guitar on Facebook Marketplace to buy a crib for their newborn.
It’s bad marketing for an unknown artist to not have their album available on streaming services (and only for physical purchase). People have always and will always want convenience and to save money.
We know that we cannot change human nature. Can we change the society we all live in?
Enter Universal Basic Income. It’s an economic model in which every citizen would be given a stipend they need to live in our society. Whether you are unemployed, a bus driver, or a doctor, you would receive the same amount – enough that if you spent it all on the bare necessities (small apartment, healthy groceries, generic brand toothpaste…), you would not be hungry or homeless, but living a minimalist life.
If you wanted to “upgrade” your lifestyle, so to speak – move into a bigger home, wear brand name clothes, eat at a restaurant, you would need to either become entrepreneurial, or be employed by someone who is. It’s capitalism playing out in all its innovation and creativity, while still being civilized enough so that our our neighbours have their most basic needs met. In all fields of work, people will be able to take more time off work to care for their family members, or their own health, leading to increased happiness and productivity in the workplace.
In my opinion, the most beautiful thing about the concept of Universal Basic Income, is that it gives the creative entrepreneurial folks like us freedom to write, design, compose, and add to the culture of our society without fearing eviction and hunger. As previously discussed, we artists don’t care if we live in a shoebox and have to take public transit, as long as we can create beautiful things.
With Universal Basic Income, I’m still sure some of us will “make it”, play stadiums, and live a life of luxury and fame. These might even be people who would have had to give up their goals in another life, but now free from economic constraints, they have an equal opportunity to live an artistic life, thereby building a more colourful, brilliant, more creative and wealthier society.
So in these coming years, pay attention to debates and discussions in your everyday life when it comes to Universal Basic Income… This may help us creatives change the world.