Amateurs, Professionals, and the Wrong Side of History

Hundreds of years ago, long before Napster, YouTube, and Facebook, artists, businesspeople, and politicians worried about the rise of the amateur. In Sweden, Rasmus Fleischer writes for Eurozine that government officials have worried for several centuries that amateur musicians–unapproved by the local unions and guilds–would take jobs away from professional musicians. In the country that more recently gave rise to the infamous Pirate Bay, these “beer fiddlers,” “non-guildsmen,” and “spare-timers,” who often worked for nothing more than the love of music were the source of near-constant hand wringing and screeds against amateurs, including this gem from a professional musician in 1934:

All other professions consistently oppose free-loaders and non-guildsmen […] Thank God that there are sensible people among musicians, too, and that most or even all members recognized the danger of legalizing amateur musicians in the practice of a profession, in which they do not belong.

In spite of the constant attacks, the amateurs always manage to find new ways to remain relevant. More progressive or “prog” musicians even formed a “progger” (sounds like “blogger”?) trade union to protect the rights of amateurs. In exhaustive fashion, the article shows that those who fight against amateurs are aligning themselves on the wrong side of history.

Source: Eurozine

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