By: Tanya Treptow, PhD

October 21, 2021

In a time of social change and challenge, music matters even more. And so do the people who make it.


I and my co-authors Melody Buyukozer Dawkins and Peter Linett are delighted to share the release of a public report of a year-long research endeavor that advocates for US-based working musicians during the pandemic and beyond. This study, titled “Turn Up the Mic, Tune Up the Future: A National Research Study of Roots Musicians in the U.S.,” highlights a national survey commissioned by Whippoorwill Arts and undertaken in collaboration with the Blues Foundation, Folk Alliance International, Americana Music Association, International Bluegrass Music Association, Globalfest, American Federation of Musicians, Local 1000, and other stakeholders. The survey paints a dynamic picture of the needs, challenges and aspirations of musicians who animate our nation’s local venues, and it explores the changes and investments needed to make musical careers and the broader music ecosystem more equitable and thriving.

Nearly 1,200 working musicians completed the survey, which was followed by group discussions with demographically diverse musicians to co-interpret the findings. The research sheds light on challenges musicians have faced for years and reveals how these “pre-existing conditions” have worsened in the pandemic era.



The report includes a new framework to help create a more thriving and sustainable music ecosystem (see diagram below). Sections of the report explore economic equity, professional protections, and the collective effort needed for change.



If you’re a musician, arts leader, funder, policymaker, or organizer interested in equity and progress, we hope you’ll find the report relevant and useful in the work ahead. View it here, and please be in touch with your thoughts and feedback.


Read more about Whippoorwill Arts’ inspiring vision for this research, including a new campaign to Save our Musicians and Covid-19 safety guidelines for musicians.


Photo & diagram credit: KUDOS Design Collaboratory, image courtesy Whippoorwill Arts

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