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Make Music Day - Reflecting on Accessibility and Visibility of Musicians

To mark Make Music Day (21st June), Tonic Rider Coordinator, Jeordie Shenton, discusses the importance of promoting accessibility and visibility in music.

Fête de la Musique, better known in English as Make Music Day (or even World Music Day), was the creation of Maurice Fleuret with the aim of bringing together all people for whom music matters. This was envisioned as a great celebration that would allow all musicians, professional and amateur alike, to express themselves through music.

On this day: 'music will be everywhere and the concert will be nowhere' or in other words, a festival that is free, open to all and without hierarchy of genres and practices. In France, musicians play in public spaces to celebrate Fête de la Musique on 21st June - the longest day of the year. Since 2012, Make Music Day has grown in the UK, with 12,800 musicians performing live or online in front of 76,200 people as part of last year’s event. This year, even higher numbers of participants are expected.

Make Music Day is also a time to reflect on music and the music industry, the latter not always a requisite of the former. At a time when the internet, particularly music streaming and video hosting services, seemingly provide musicians new opportunities for accessibility and visibility, the concept of Fête de la Musique provokes thought.

A musician’s greatness is often determined by commercial success or critical acclaim, two measures which require accessibility to and visibility within music - as an industry. Dichotomies of professional and amateur, or career and hobbyist, separate musicians not always by skill, but accessibility and visibility. We frequently observed this with the output from our Recovery Through Music workshops, most recently the Men’s Music Jam EP. Talented musicians, producing quality music, for whom the barriers around accessibility and visibility remain.

My colleague, Adam Ficek, introduced me to the term ‘musicking’, a verb meaning ‘to music’, which encompasses performing, listening and all other activities involving music. With that in mind, there is a strong case to call today: ‘Musicking Day’. Whatever the name, today should be a celebration of all musicians: the ‘busking musicians’; the ‘function musicians’, the ‘community musicians’; the ‘bedroom musicians’; the ‘session musicians’; the ‘grassroot venue musicians’; the ‘stadium touring musicians’. . .

I encourage anyone for whom music matters to get involved, whether as a performer or listener, there are Make Music Day events going on across the country; morning, noon and night. All free to participate and attend. Beyond today, we must continue to support musicians by tipping, paying fairly for performances, and buying their music and merch.

More information about Make Music Day here.

To read some of Adam Ficek’s work on musicking, here.

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