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Music and work. I’m curious about the role that music plays in our working lives. How do the soundtracks to our jobs shape our daily experiences on the clock? Are these songs functioning only to increase productivity and profits for the boss? Or is the workplace playlist freely controlled by their workers to reduce alienation and open a portal toward liberation? Can music be a tool of resistance?
What if there is no music at all?
I’m going to explore all of these questions and more in The Music & Work Project. I believe that looking at the realities of wage labor through the lens of music has the potential to heighten our understanding of capitalist society - and hopefully illuminate possibilities beyond the current economic system. And unlike existing academic and corporate research on music in the workplace, my exploration will be from the bottom up; from the eyes and ears of actual workers.
To begin this project, I’m going to share my own stories of music and work. I’m currently writing a zine that documents my years in the service industry and the music that helped define all those jobs. Not for You: Stories of Music & Work in the Precarious Service Industry explores the antagonistic dynamics between management, workers, and customers in relationship to the beats, rhythms, lyrics, and melodies played at each job.
This exploration starts with my own stories. But I also want to hear yours.
Starting in early July, I will be going on a summer tour to listen to the experiences of other people around these questions. What kind of role does music play in your working life? How has this changed since the first jobs you ever had? I want to hear your story. Bring me to your local bookstore, community space, cafe, or bar. I'll do a short reading and then open a dialogue where everyone can participate. Or host a potluck dinner at your place, or in a park, and we can have these conversations over some delicious food, in a non-capitalist space. I'm up for anything!
After the east to west coast tour is over, I’ll develop a presentation and produce a second issue of the zine - focusing on how other people have processed music at work.
In order to make all of this happen, I have to quit my current service job. So I'm gonna need a little help! It will cost $5,000 to publish the zine and fund this research. So if this project sounds interesting to you and you'd like to be part of it in some way, please donate today! Everyone who gives $10 or more will get a copy of the Not for You zine. A contribution of $50 or more will also include a copy of the zine that I’ll create from my research during the tour.
Thanks so much and hopefully I'll see you on the road this summer!
<3 Matt Dineen