This article analyzes musical labor and notions of love in relation to gig work with a focus on musicians in new music in New York City. Working in new music as a gig worker entails many skills, many tasks, and many jobs, which hardly guarantee a release from precarity. Meanwhile the neoliberal myth of a “labor of love” propagates the conviction that love and hard work can overcome any challenge, including those posed by racialized and gendered difference. The account of contemporary musical labor I offer concurs with recent critiques of the complicity of new music discourse with neoliberal agendas. Yet I argue that even as contemporary practices of musical work demonstrate how new music is entrepreneurial work embedded in a capitalist system, the everyday experiences of working musicians confound a totalizing account of the neoliberal agenda. Musical work takes place alongside and despite neoliberalism. Based on ethnography and interviews, I argue that the unsettled norms of musical gig work in the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic brought to the fore ways in which musical work is more than the perfect manifestation of exploitable “labors of love.”
Skip Nav Destination
Research Article| April 01 2023
Do What You Love? New Music, New Work—After 2020
Miki Kaneda (she/her) is an assistant professor of music in the Department of Musicology and Ethnomusicology at Boston University. Her book project on experimental music and intermedia art as a transcultural project in 1960s Japan is forthcoming from the University of Michigan Press.
Search for other works by this author on:
Journal of Musicology (2023) 40 (2): 159–179.
Miki Kaneda; Do What You Love? New Music, New Work—After 2020. Journal of Musicology 1 April 2023; 40 (2): 159–179. doi: https://doi.org/10.1525/jm.2023.40.2.159
Download citation file:
Don't already have an account? Register
You could not be signed in. Please check your email address / username and password and try again.
Could not validate captcha. Please try again.