Gentrification is both a very logical social, cultural and economic phenomenon yet a very head-scratching one in the same time. The Middle and the Upper class, whose goal in society is to always look richer (to the point debts to look better off), are also the ones wearing jeans with tears, entering charity shop after people living in homeless refuges got out, or living in former poor part of the town because it is “fashionable”
And that is the problem, living in those area isn’t an end in itself for them, that gentrification is so unethical. Gentrification although it is the coming of richer people in poorer neighbourhood is actually the culprit in the cultural impoverishment of those very neighborhoods. Today I will talk about how gentrification affects musicians and music-related subjects and answer to how gentrification will and has jeopadized music as a whole.
Let’s get back to the beginning, starving artists dreaming to live off their music can’t afford anything but a shotgun shack in a ghetto. Their impact over time benefits the neighbourhood which gets culturally richer and richer. Until rich investors seize the opportunity to sell businesses, houses and apartments to richer people.
Why their mere presence would be enough to degrade the cultural life of a place? Because it is a parasitic process. They just here to consume, they do not take a role in the cultural thriving of an area. They basically bestow themselves the right to stay in an artistic place not by adding anything to it, but in the contrary by consuming it.
And like any consumer they expect a sort of “customer service” for a party they were not invited in to begin with. This is when new comers start complaining about the noise, and many bars and clubs have suffered from this. To be more precise the gentry has forced many bars and clubs to shut down while no one asked them to come there in the first place. This issue is so alarming for the future of music business as a whole since – now that everyone can make music on their laptop, the competition has never been so tough, however the former music business used to sign A LOT of artists because they had the money. Nowadays due to the illegal downloads crave, the iPod generation and the now streaming “revolution” the funds are nowhere near the deep pockets major labels used to have. The biggest and most alarming consequence is that people have started become more and more political, and started guessing their chances. By doing so they have ended up only signing artists that sounds and look like the last charting hits. Hence the feeling of repetition we’ve felt since the 10’s but really since the late 00’s. It’s the Pop loop. Everyone sounds the same and the whole world is happy.
Conversely the live business has never been so thriving, BUT mostly for the big names. The problem now is, if label only signs copy-cat, how to get discovered? You guessed it, live shows. But how do I get to do live shows if the gentrification caused many clubs to close? You guessed it we are stuck.
The problem is so widespread in Europe and America that it can almost be called an epidemics.
Gentrification not only forces people to leave, but it also prevents people from living. One of the most important thing to engrave in one’s heart is that, artist moving to a ghetto to live off their art isn’t a choice, that’s a necessity. I repeat, artists have not chosen to be there, they were forced to because they are broke. And that’s the irony of it. Some people because it was “fun”, because it was “fashionable” decided to come in a neighbourhood they used to despise, invade it, impoverish the culture, have cultural hubs closed, and make the cost of living in this area go up. Their mere presence brings down the quality of life others. Now that the prices are up, people are forced to live in smaller tighter places, which will eventually damage the music business entirely.
For instance if you want a rock drummer, you need space to rehearse every day, and you need your own space to train without bothering others. Thus gentrification will result to the extinction of certain type of musicians and even to the (many times) most important one, the singer.
As a singer, you need space. You need to be able to train everyday without always have to worry about one of your seven roommates who always seems to never work but can still mystically pay the rent. Knowing that there is always someone there can prevent you to do all your weirdest vocal exercises like the infamous “nay, nay, nay, nay, nay, nay nay, nay, nay” used as a way to strengthen your vocal chords, or worse it forces you to squeeze your vocal chords to sound quieter or to whisper which is the BEST way to damage your voice without noticing it. If you survived this embarrassing moments, you will probably not push as far as singing your own songs at full-power, which is the way you go on stage unprepared, you suck , you make no money, you go back to your ex-poor neighborhood which is now expensive. Happy life. At least you can get some comfort food, WRONG! As you know your diet is crucial for a singer but since the price of your neighbourhood went up thanks to gentrification, you can’t afford to pay for your groceries and this slows down a little bit more your progression in your career.
Other trends will surely crash with a huge bang due to the gentrification. The vinyls, the new “old” trends in hipster and the gentry. There is no way this trend could last over time because,
There is a mismatch between the real estate market and the vinyl market.
In other words. Vinyls that are flourishing in artist corners, take a lot of space. And the prices of housing is a lot more expensive, which results in people living in smaller houses (bye bye drummers), in collocation (bye singers) and in cubicles that can only contain one human being, and maybe a bed, sometimes (bye vinyls).
But on the other hand, the gentry loves vinyls while contributing to their destruction, since less and less people will be able to make the choice of buying and be reasonable and the renting space of the music store will just eventually choke the owners. That’s the contraction of gentrification, it kills the really thing it came to enjoy. Exactly like a parasite. But parasite are smart enough make you unaware of their presence, while the gentry allegedly publicly violates everything that made the soul of a place. Therefore how could I designate them? They look like kids that after they play with their toy dispose of it, disregarding the chaos they brought. Gentrification really comes from an infant-like mentality but it carries something else.
Indeed, the most accurate term for gentrification is a “spacial and cultural modern colonialism” when people appropriate themselves of a culture and a space, drain its life and then sell it for profit. It is purely immoral, unethical and despicable.
You really have to be either a parasite, of a kid or a colonist (which is by the way an insult) to partake in this.
To go further, gentrification can be seen as I said as a cultural, social and economic phenomenon, but to take part in this you have to be a bit deranged, as for me gentrification is a pathology. When child-like, greedy and egocentric parasites try to verify if the grass is greener elsewhere by ripping off everything of this place you know someone has some mental issues. And that’s not ok, Im calling them out. People have to stop accepting everything on the ground of the fact that they have got money. But I wonder if it is not the fact of violating a place they do not belong to that they enjoy instead of the pleasure of living there actually since, when they come, life goes away and they never seem to notice it until they sell it, for a more “fashionable” place. Does that provide them with excitement? Do they feel a certain pleasure by invading a place?I do wonder, it does not make much sense to me, all I know I that for the cultural benefit of our civilisation we need artists, but as, I quote, Mike Skinner of The Streets said, “geezers need excitement”.