The week of March 13, 2016

The food of life

By Jesse Hicks

What does it mean to be a musician in a time of virtually free, ubiquitous music? What’s the relationship between artist and fan at a time when hate-clicks are, after all, still clicks? And how do you make a living when the work you do is often given away for free? Those are just some of the questions we’re taking up in this year’s Music Issue.

Austin Powell talked to five musicians who know a thing or two about YouTube fame. It might surprise you to know that they’re not living the rockstar life: like most musicians, they’re still grinding it out, trying to ride whatever success they can find. Like most artists know, even having legions of fans doesn’t necessarily mean making a living. But there’s something particularly poignant about hearing that these highly visible acts still face the same familiar struggles.

Meanwhile, Ramon Ramirez talked to DJ Mel, who’s taking his career to the next level—spinning for presidential candidate Bernie Sanders. It wasn’t part of a grand plan, but the award-winning artist is grateful for the change because, as he says, “there has to be this progression—I can’t grind it out in the club four or five nights a week anymore.” He doesn’t consider himself an elder statesman; in his head he’s just another guy out there trying to crawl his way up.

Enjoy the issue.