I usually get several calls in November and December about playing corporate Christmas parties or New Year's Eve celebrations, and I've played several Christmas parties over the years. They're always a lot of fun because everyone's in a festive mood, and we try to play songs especially for the client and the occasion. This year was different. I didn't get a single call.
I ran into a friend of mine, and he was telling me about a Nashville blues singer with whom I've shared several bills in the past. The guy's really good, especially for parties. He said he only had one holiday party booking this year, and it canceled. Another friend asked me where we were playing New Years Eve as it was the first time he didn't have a gig on New Year's in 35 years. The truth is, because of the economy, there weren't nearly as many company Christmas parties as in years past. I know of several companies locally which canceled their parties altogether. The effect of the economy on live music is very real. There were a few gigs, but not many.
I read one satirical article, which commented on the sad state of the music economy. The article's funny, but the hard times for musicians are real. In times when people have to choose between milk, bread or music, music's out! Music sales in general are down, especially country music, which has fallen almost 25%. The effect would have been even more dramatic if not for Taylor Swift, and she's much more Pop than Country. Of course, part of Country music's problem may lie in the quality of Country music being put out these days. Tom Petty called it "bad rock bands with fiddles."
Earlier this year, touring musicians were in a bind because of the price of fuel, but now everybody's in a bind because of the economy in general. I'm lucky in that I don't depend on my music for food on my table, or I'd be starving, but I feel for those who do. They're already feeling the pinch and turning the corner into a year with an uncertain future.