Blue Mountains Music Festival, freedom and labours of love

For 52 hours straight at almost any moment I could choose from up to 8 of the 50 acts at the Blue Mountains Music Festival without having to think about how much I have to pay to listen.  I didn’t feel like a consumer.

The acts are mostly musicians plus a few poets and comedians, singing, strumming, plucking, blowing, harmonizing, accompanying, improvising, joking. Some of the performers turn up in the audience or on the stage with other acts. What a great way to work (pity it’s such a struggle to make a living).
Without the measure of a price on each act, without ‘risking’ capital, and seeking a profit, the organisers manage to choose and schedule acts that are enjoyed by thousands. 

So there was a whiff of freedom from exchanging money and labour -the constant pressures of a market economy.

OK – The festival is not a pure island of freedom safely insulated from the market.  Money does intrude, and the event has to have a budget, ticket prices, raise money. Market stalls sell food, drink, clothing and souvenirs. You need enough money to buy a ticket and pay for somewhere to sleep for the weekend. Artists spruik their DVDs and other wares because they need the money. Because the performers and support crew are working in an industry where lots of people want to work and a very very few make unimagineable amounts of money, employers are not under much pressure to improve conditions. Maybe the organisers are unduly tough, maybe they are generous in what they pay the artists.

But the point is – the Blue Mountains Music Festival shows that it is possible to organise a lot of people to offer a set of great choices and loads of fun, without price or profit motive signalling which  choices should be offered.


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