things that keep me up part 1

March 12, 2013 |  Category:   life rambling


Did anyone read this NY Times article “A World Without Work”? You could come away with a few different impressions, but I thought the conversation in comments that followed was very thought provoking. The theory that we could draw parallels between current employment trends to a 19th Century Utopian vision where people worked less has its obvious flaws (and the line about the rich working longer hours and the unemployed patching together various means to scrape by speaks more about income inequality than who gets to enjoy more leisure hours), but what was most interesting was this notion that this future of no work is “a basic reality of 21st-century American life”.


Unemployment stats aside, the decline of jobs from automation and outsourcing, and the fact that many Americans are being squeezed into more productivity often to compensate for a downsized workforce, lead me to think that some kind of post-employment era isn’t that far off base. It’s a pretty big statement, no? And then when I try to imagine what the world is going to be like when my kids grow to be adults…well, it makes me wonder (worry) all kinds of things about the future. The world is changing – it has been changing all along – but the recession and the technology-driven evolution of certain industries certainly has made us more aware of it.
I thought this article about the Brooklyn band, Grizzly Bear, in NY Magazine, was a good read on the music industry today and what it means to be an indie band in 2013. We all know that the industry has changed and musicians don’t make money selling records anymore. Their earnings come primarily from touring and licensing music (why do you think that every band that has ever existed and is still living is back on tour?). So is a successful indie band from 2013 making the same living as one from 1992? It seems not. As I was walking down Broadway the other day, I thought about the stores that I used to go to when I was a kid, Tower Records being one of them. Do you remember how big a deal it was to go to your favorite record store to pick up that new album from your favorite band? (record/Cassette/CD – you name your era. I’m old enough to have lived through all 3). I don’t know if kids who could just download music instantly today would even understand that experience. It took a lot more work to listen to music back then (ok, maybe just a subway token and a ride), but the experience of going to a store to browse through bins and bins of records and CDs and walking away with a physical package of the music in your hands is all but gone. It was such a huge part of our adolescence, but we just don’t buy music like that anymore. Is publishing not that far behind?

I don’t believe that creativity or ideas will be outsourced and replaced, but the means to execute these ideas might and some tasks won’t need humans at all anymore. It’s already happened and I even see it in my industry as design budgets get smaller and I have to hustle for more projects a year just to compensate. I’m also realizing that what I’ve been doing the last few years to a certain extent, is trying to position ourselves so that we could become a bit more adaptable in our respective industries. I think in this economy, you have to be in order to survive. I’m not completely confident that what I do for a living now in this particular capacity is how I’ll be making a living 10 years from now. It may not be by choice. So what does the future hold when we no longer need manual labor and these jobs continue to disappear? When the pool of qualified applicants outnumber the jobs that are available? But isn’t that future now? We definitely live in interesting times…

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  • Mary March 12, 2013 at 11:20 am

    Really interesting post. I had read that article in the Times, and I am familiar with the changing music industry. These are definitely thoughts and worries that I’ve had, thinking about the future for myself as well as my kids.

    I also bought myself a record player over Christmas. I forgot how wonderful the physical aspect of choosing and playing music could be. The smell of the record, putting the needle on…not to mention the sound. I’m excited to introduce it to my boys, even if only for nostalgia’s sake.

    • Jenna March 12, 2013 at 11:42 am

      yeah, we’ve had our record player since the 90s and we regularly play records on it so the kids know all about records. Funny how I want to preserve whatever small record collection we have, but I don’t really care about CDs.

  • Katie March 12, 2013 at 11:34 am

    I remember skipping school on Tuesdays in high school to go to the record store and buy whatever new album (CD) came out that day. The feeling of going back to my car and putting in the new CD and hearing the songs for the first time meant everything.
    Streaming live from Spotify has exactly none of that excitement or commitment. It’s bittersweet, but I wonder if it’s something I would have grown out of anyway? I still enjoy going to shows, but mostly only if there is seating. 🙂
    I currently work in the healthcare and benefits industry so there is definitely no guarantee on what the next 10 years will hold.

    • Jenna March 12, 2013 at 11:46 am

      I have vivid memories of my mom driving me to the Wiz, a larger music chain back in the 80s here in NY, purchasing a cassette, popping it in my walkman and just getting lost in the music for the first time in that backseat on the ride home. It really was something special. I wonder if part of it is the commerce part – saving your money to buy music and being a bit more selective about what you wanted to spend your money on, you know? Now you can preview and listen to almost everything without spending a dime. And ha! concerts and seats…I always think about if the band is back pain worthy when thinking about going to a concert.

  • vicky March 12, 2013 at 1:07 pm

    The other day I was reminded that printer paper use to have those little holes on the side.. and you would have to tear off the perforated edges when it was done printing…I was strangely nostalgic.

    • Jenna March 13, 2013 at 8:57 am

      Hmmm…I vaguely remember that? Maybe I didn’t really print paper all that much back then. I do remember having to type all my papers on a typewriter. I has a busted typewriter for a while and it only worked if I held this thing down with one hand (I don’t remember what it was). So for a while I was typing all my papers with one hand, sheesh.

  • Stéphanie March 13, 2013 at 12:06 pm

    I was scared when one of my friend said to me three years ago : my kids will see diseappear books in paper and read only e-books… I’m so happy when i see that paper books resist and that my nephew of three years loves them so much !!

  • mari March 14, 2013 at 8:45 am

    Such a great post. Remember when you heard a song playing in public, and you liked it enough to scribble down lyrics, or maybe even record it with a cassette player if it was on TV? And then you have to do research, ask your friends if they know what song you’re talking about, and THEN buy the entire album. What a process.

    • Jenna March 14, 2013 at 8:47 am

      omg, that is hilarious. YES! I do remember now!