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The pure musicking continuum.

How we can both objectify and experience objectification in the occupational environment.

In my recent paper (discussed last week) I explored how we can both objectify and experience objectification in the occupational environment. One manifestation of this in the music industry is by way of becoming a commercial product. Now, I don’t mean this in a negative sense, I personally think that we need to monetise our art and we also need the music industry to generate income from our efforts (It does annoy me when this isn’t fair though!).

Anyway, my paper concluded with a brief model on how I view the difference between making art for its own sake and making it for the benefit of others or for commercial gain.

Many people enter the music industry as ‘commodifiers’, many enter the industry as ‘artists’. Both are needed but it’s very important that we know, and remain reflective on where we sit on this continuum. My diagram below shows this continuum or dial from an artist’s perspective. The diagram illustrates how we can actively choose where we place ourselves on this continuum. Whether we place ourselves in a position of bending our own needs to meet the needs of another etc. It’s ok to do this but the key is that we know we are doing it and why we are doing it.

Perhaps we shift to the right (away from pure musicking) as we can sell more records if we sound a certain way or if we adopt a certain image. Perhaps we need to deliver to a certain established lucrative market. In these different settings it’s also vital to hold onto your pure sense of musicking and what is important to you as an artist.

Diagram showing the continuum of how we can be purely creative or shift this to meet the needs of others.

In my own experience there were times when I had ‘swam so far from the shore’ of pure musicking that I had forgotten why I started to make music in the first place. It took me a while to get back to what was important for me and how I could then use this to make a living from my art. Having this framework in place would have been invaluable to me back then. I now use it within my clinical practice when working with other performers. It provides a mental representation of the differing levels of commerciality in the occupational environment. 

Don’t forget, Tonic Music are currently researching more ways in which musicians and their mental health are impacted in these modern times. If you work in the music industry please consider helping us out with these questions by completing this research questionnaire.


Adam Ficek hosts a monthly show 'Tonic Music' on Totally Wired Radio, where he talks to various guests about music and mental health. You can listen again to any of the previous show on the Tonic Music Mixcloud page.


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