BY Merja Hottinen
We are living through an upheaval in cultural policy. The field of music is changing and familiar structures are being questioned. Records aren’t selling like they used to, the appreciation people have for symphony concerts is no longer a given, popular music has split into so many genres that there just isn’t enough of a mass audience for all of them.
The change is not limited to Finland. In fact, in many ways Finland is better off than some other European countries. We are not facing the need to close down cultural institutions or orchestras and efforts are underfoot to develop the arts grant system in a more modern direction. Despite all this, uncertainty has an impact on everyone making a living with music; especially freelance musicians who are particularly sensitive to economic trends. How will people who have chosen music as a profession find ways to make money in the changing economic structures?
When everything is uncertain, discourse out in the field can get a little unruly. Sometimes the battle rages between classical and popular music, sometimes between musicians and business. Everyone just wants a better future for their sectors, as well as help from society in achieving this. Through discussion, a closer harmony between various views can be achieved, resulting in co-operative action, which will help preserve a multifaceted field of music for the future.
Even though the financial troubles of freelancers are real, freedom should not be seen as solely negative. For many – such as Maria Kalaniemi who was interviewed for this magazine – the artistic freedom that operating in the margins affords is a requirement for creating something new.
In any case, we are at the heart of creative action when musicians get together and start playing out of pure love for the music. So it’s no coincidence that Finnish music is alive with new initiatives right now: spontaneous urban events, new concert series and club nights, different ways of thinking and combining influences. It remains to be seen what eventually comes out of this freedom. Perhaps some new structures, new practices, and definitely a lot of new music!
Translation: Arttu Tolonen