Music industry workers’ autonomy and (un)changing relations of dependency in the wake of COVID-19 in Hungary
Conclusions of a sociodrama research project
Keywords:music industry, autonomy, state, sociodrama, cultural labour, cultural policy
The COVID-19 pandemic restrictions in 2020 included the cancellation of live music events in large numbers, leaving a majority of music industry workers – not only musicians, but also sound and light technicians, roadies, managers, and promoters – at least temporarily out of work. The situation was characterised by general uncertainty, both with regard to future restrictions or their easing, and with regard to the willingness of the Hungarian government to lend a hand to the industry and its workers. The question of state support and reliance on it was thus brought into sharp focus – the fate of the music industry and industry actors taking a stance received significant media attention, and online discussions involving organisers and concert or festival promoters abounded, especially during the first two ‘lockdown’ months. Our paper explores the collective images, perceptions, and attitudes of cultural workers working in the Hungarian music industries related to their own work, their creative autonomy, and the relations of dependence in the industry through an analysis of six sociodrama groups undertaken with the participation of music industry workers before and during the pandemic. We explored, first, how workers view the role of the state and the market in their work, and the playing field in which they are situated, and whether and how the pandemic crisis has affected this. Second, what kinds of potential strategies of coping and surviving the workers identify in light of the crisis situation.
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