The Official News Source of the Social Liberal Union
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Toonela, a member of the Social Liberal Union since May 2020, has held this role since February of this year. The role of the delegate was legally established in 2011, but as the region and NationStates community as a whole have shifted throughout time, so has the role of the delegate. Today, as with many other regions, the delegate is the most powerful position in government and plays a significant role in shaping the region. Below are excerpts from an interview with Toonela:
Erynia: What has kept you [in the region]?
Toonela: I've stuck around due to the amazing community we have and dedicated members who are out there doing good things for the left both on and offline.
Erynia: Why did you decide to run for Delegate?
Toonela: I decided to run for Delegate because I wanted to bring some renewed vigor to certain aspects of the region, such as site engagement, that I felt had largely gone by the wayside.
Erynia: What do you hope to see during your time as delegate and the future of the region?
Toonela: I'm terribly hopeful we'll be able to encourage growth that adds enthusiastic members to the region. For me, the region is most exemplary within the confines of our Discord server, but in the future we can extend and expand that community to be in better communication with our friends who are more gameside-oriented, and help nurture another generation of NS pan-leftists.
Erynia: What legacy or precedents do you hope to leave with the region once your time as Delegate is over?
Toonela: Well, if I'm lucky, I'd like to think I'll be remembered for having helped foster and mend any gaps in continuity of community and transparency of government between the region's various platforms. If all else fails, I think I've already taken a number of steps towards re-establishing a precedent of taking the Delegate's position as a serious charge from which the government can be kept proactive.
Erynia: Is there anything else you'd like to say?
Toonela: I'd just like to wish everyone in our region, whether they are new residents of have been a member for a decade or more, the best of luck in all that they do, and that I can always be reached for whatever assistance anyone here might need (and I can provide) via telegram, the RMB, Discord, or even email.
The Coming of the Silver Spoon Rockstar
Written by Toonela
Every Sunday evening, my friends and I hop into a Discord server to participate in a three round game we call ‘walrus’. The game is fairly simple. One of us is appointed judge for the duration of the game and sets a theme, one for each round, while the rest of us submit a single song within the chosen theme. The judge rates our songs on a scale of one to five and we all get to learn more about each others varied tastes in music. Personally, I submit a lot of opera and folk recordings. It’s a good, social game, but it’s also become indicative of a trend within the music industry as a whole: musicians are no longer competing with just their contemporaries for the ears of listeners, but the entirety of recorded music that can be put on a streaming service.
Since the middle of 2021, there has been an increasing amount of coverage of the effects of streaming services on the music industry. Most of this coverage has revolved around the issue of royalties (payments made to the holders of an artists’ rights) and how much a musician makes per play. These payments go to record labels or distributors, corporations that artists sell their rights to in exchange for circulation of their work. With the advent of streaming services, the amount paid on royalties paid per play has crashed to a mere $0.0033 to $0.0054, down from the halcyon days of $0.12 during the 1980s. Yet this coverage, in centering the discussion on the presumption that there exists some ‘fair wage’ that musicians are due and streaming services are simply not delivering on, glosses over harsher developments within the industry that endanger the very idea of the unknown artist emerging as a rockstar on the commodification of their album.
The commodification of music is a relatively new phenomenon. Before the 1950s, very few, if any, recording artists made enough money on album or singles sales alone to focus exclusively on their artistic work without depriving themselves of life’s necessities. Historically, only those lucky enough to attract and retain lifelong patrons were due that luxury. For every other musician, they had to make do with a day job on one hand and their ambitions as performers and composers as hobbies on the other. Even during the post-WWII boom in the performing arts in the United States of America, immensely popular big bands and broadway acts were making far more on their varied and competitive live performances than recordings. By the 1950s, this had changed for a growing number of artists, who could attempt to breakthrough into the mainstream of recording success via the occasional eccentric aficionado that had picked up their work and broadcast it on a popular radio station. As late as the early nineties, this was a possibility for the emerging artist even as record labels, distributors, and in some cases even mob organizations, increasingly monopolized distribution platforms.
This situation was not to last, even as the recording industry’s primary organization, the Recording Industry Association of America, successfully squashed the upstart Napster peer-to-peer service as late as the early 2000s. The delaying tactic ultimately failed to stop the streaming services from being born, even as the recording companies attempted to consolidate access through digital services such as the Apple iTunes store where consumers could purchase individual albums or songs in a digital format. Profits continued to fall for the recording industry, bottoming out at $14 billion in 2014. Albums were such loss leaders that even established names simply released them for free. With even ownership of digital files under threat from piratical practices, the squeeze on musicians making their money primarily via recording intensified. The solution was the same that had emerged in other media spaces: rent, not ownership, would be the new order of the day.
Spotify, it turned out, was inevitable. With streaming service profitability now having far eclipsed downloads or physical sales while providing less and less for the artist(s) behind any individual track or album, musicians have become another causality of our global economy. Older artists with successful catalogs are cashing out on their rights, selling them to hedge funds in order to secure their retirements. New artists aware of the developments within the industry are building sound catalogs to sell for movie productions, not making albums in their bedrooms. The most successful of the current generation lean more and more on trying to create a personal brand that demands of them not only good music, but the willingness and ability to throw innovative performances at live venues where its often the merchandise, not tickets, that most directly fill their pockets; all this amid a global pandemic.
What is left for the modern musician without enough in the bank account to do? David Crosby’s advice to young musicians? Don’t be one. My advice to my fellow musicians? Keep composing, playing, and singing, but get out of the mindset that we’re in a rat race. For most of us, the dream of the independent artist has passed. Those that are left to collect on that dream will be the future Mozarts, propped up by patrons or leading highly curated experiences for the wealthy and by the wealthy. As more successful Fyre Festivals loom on the horizon, the rest of us uninvited, our only refuge will be to organize the workplaces of those accursed jobs we’ve been left with, and maybe one day contribute to the kind of organically developed choirs, their membership drawn entirely from the working classes, that once numbered in the thousands across late 20th century Germany. That’s my hope anyway. In the meantime, I’m looking for a used harp to learn how to play in the evenings for a friend’s wedding.
Thank you for reading the Union Tribune's March & April Newsletter edition, written by Erynia and Draconia and Toonela! If you liked it, give it an upvote. We are always looking for new writers and editors, so if you would like to join the Union Tribune team, please DM qibli77#6967 on discord or telegram Erynia and Draconia.
The Union Tribune Newsletter is a subsidiary of Union Mass Media, which is managed by the Ministry of Domestic Affairs. Please contact Secretary of Communications Erynia and Draconia or Minister of Domestic Affairs Koiho with any questions, comments, or suggestions for improvement.