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The Organized Musicians (Part II), 16 U. Chi. L. Rev. 239 (1949)


Like many other unions, the AFM has long battled the threat of

technological unemployment. Like their brother-unionists, the

musicians have found that the man who has been displaced by a

machine can take little comfort from the orthodox economist's" assurance

that the long-run effect of all technological change must be the creation

of a better life in which his remote descendants may share. Consequently,

they have resisted this change as best they could.

This problem can best be understood if one significant characteristic

of the machine in the field of music be noted at the outset. In whatever

form, the machine has never eliminated or even altered the musician's

function. The machine does not make music-it merely provides a means

of preserving and giving wider dissemination to the music made by the

musician. That characteristic is significant in two respects. In the first

place, by providing a means of reproducing musical performances and

making wider dissemination of those performances possible, the machine

has created a greater demand for music and probably inspired a greater

number of people to become musicians without creating a correspondingly

greater demand for the services of musicians. Secondly, the machine is

still dependent on the musician for the original performance-a fact which

has at once served to dramatize the musician's plight and to aid him in

his struggle against mechanization.

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