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  • The Status of Work

    George Musgrave, Sally Anne Gross

    Chapter from the book: Musgrave G. & Gross S. 2020. Can Music Make You Sick?: Measuring the Price of Musical Ambition.


    ‘The Status of Work’ explores how musicians today attempt to make sense of the musical ‘work’ they do, asking themselves challenging questions about value, self-worth, and the role music might come to play in their future lives. The chapter begins by outlining the multitude of roles and activities musicians undertake on a daily basis. It follows with a discussion of how these music makers struggle to both define their working practices as labour and establish – or even be able to feel – that their work is a ‘success’. This chapter outlines three main points. Firstly, the work that musicians do is far more than just the practice of music making. Forging a career in creative production is all-consuming, involving the musicians’ time, personality and identity. Secondly, musicians struggle to meaningfully define what success is. This all takes place in a setting in which representations both of self and of others are highly visible and contested. Lastly musicians are anxious about the role their work might come to play in their futures struggling to reconcile industry myths of meritocracy and success against a reality where such successes are ‘always’ just around the corner. The authors ask: what does it feel like to do this work; for musicians to embody this work? What does it feel like to work so hard at something which you or others might not even consider work and which produces outcomes so hard to make sense of and which often contradict each other?

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    How to cite this chapter
    Musgrave G. & Gross S. 2020. The Status of Work. In: Musgrave G. & Gross S, Can Music Make You Sick?. London: University of Westminster Press. DOI: https://doi.org/10.16997/book43.c

    This chapter distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution + Noncommercial + NoDerivatives 4.0 license. Copyright is retained by the author(s)

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    Published on Sept. 29, 2020