The majority of those operating in the live music touring industry have always been in “the shadows”. Not just because they avoid being in the literal spotlight on stage and off, but also because of decades of a culture that has avoided being censused or registered in official categories of employment titles or roles. More or less from the origin of its independent contractor type work, nomadic global nature and inconsistent types of compensation. That culture no longer fits by definition of employment classifications and yet still remains largely the norm. It’s continued to operate “under the radar” from conventional employment over site despite record profits with were predicted to rival the sporting industry. All without ever having an HR department as a part of tour or available organization representatives like i.e Associations or Unions. There is little to no official classification of touring workers into occupational categories for the purpose of collecting, calculating, or disseminating data. A large amount of those who tour without a being sent out from a company directly for Artist are …employees. Most of those who are in this industry fall largely out of collected labor statistics. Many touring personnel have even seemed to embrace these facts as a result of a job shrouded in mysterious circumstances, a fringe “cool” occupation and little public understanding.
Unfortunately as the current situation continues to shut down any moderate and all larger gatherings the industry has never needed more mainstream attention, public understanding, statistical information, data and support. Have we remained too long in “the shadows”? Have we made a mistake by not having our voice be heard and counted? Have we inadvertently made it difficult to be “seen” in this shutdown along with other industries in need?
We will likely be amongst the last to get the all clear. Realistically, not until there is a vaccine, it seems will the touring industry return to “normal”.
But for now…
We need to walk amongst the rest of the world and be counted as an industry that needs to be quantified in order to be seen. In order to receive the help and support those who are in it need. We need to be recognized, counted, represented and supported as other major industry employees are. It’s difficult to get help when your type of employment or job title isn’t even selectable in scrolling forms or official categories for Unemployment, bank loans, tax filing etc. When there is no box to check off officially or even close then you likely just get lumped into a classification that is not doing the circumstances of touring employment justice or creating the understanding that it currently so desperately needs. It’s time to fix that before ‘putting the cart before the horse’ of doing unrealistic shows ASAP. How do we start…by building the foundation it has needed and deserves.