Book Chapters

Working Harder and Working Smarter: The survival strategies of contemporary independent musicians

Brian J. Hracs (2016)

The Production and Consumption of Music in the Digital Age. Eds B. J. Hracs, M. Seman and T.  Virani. Routledge (41-55).


Although digital technologies and restructuring in the music industry have furnished musicians with unprecedented levels of autonomy and are widely considered emancipatory, the working lives of contemporary independent musicians are fraught with risk and uncertainty. To date, however, little is known about the strategies musicians are developing to overcome the inefficiencies of the ‘Do It Yourself’ (D.I.Y.) model and mediate the risks associated with the hyper-competitive marketplace. Drawing on 65 interviews, this chapter explores the interrelated spatial, organizational and commercial strategies being used by independent musicians in Toronto, Canada.



Selling the Stage: Exploring the spatial and temporal dimensions of interactive cultural experiences

Brian J. Hracs & Doreen Jakob (2015)

Spatial Dynamics in the Experience Economy. Eds Lorentzen, A., L. Schrøder and K. Topsø Larsen. Routledge 71-87. (PDF)


With declining entry barriers, digital technologies and global integration, the marketplace for cultural products - including music and craft - has become saturated and highly competitive. Indeed, Apple’s iTunes music store offers over 37 millions songs and Etsy listed over 34 million new cultural products in 2013. This ‘dilemma of democratization’ curtails the ability of independent cultural producers to command monopoly rents. In response, cultural entrepreneurs are developing innovative strategies to market and monetize their products and to ‘stand out’ in the crowded marketplace (Hracs et al. 2013). This chapter contributes to our understanding of the experience economy, consumption and entrepreneurship by examining the ways in which poorly understood independent cultural producers are using experiences as standalone products to help supplement and promote their goods and services. In particular, it demonstrates how local producers are manipulating four different aspects of their experience offerings (exclusivity, interactivity, space and time) and harnessing consumer desires for symbolic value, authenticity and creative expression. 

Satisfaction Guaranteed? Individual preferences, experiences and mobility

Brian J. Hracs & Kevin Stolarick (2014)

Seeking Talent for Creative Cities: The Social Dynamics of Economic Innovation. Ed J. L. Grant. Toronto: University of Toronto Press. 99-118. (PDF)

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This chapter draws on interviews with musicians in Toronto to develop a framework to explain their mobility. The findings suggest that musicians are initially attracted by expectations of the amenities and other socioeconomic conditions they will find in a specific location. Places that meet or exceed expectations are deemed authentic. The research provides a nuanced theoretical framework relating regional amenities, attractiveness, and stated mobility intentions to inform policy actions that regions can use to help attract and retain talented individuals.

Beyond Bohemia: Geographies of everyday creativity for musicians in Toronto’.

Brian J. Hracs (2009)

Spaces of Vernacular Creativity: Rethinking the Cultural Economy. Eds T. Edensor, D. Leslie,  S. Millington and N. Rantisi. London: Routledge: 75-88. (PDF)

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Since it was first used to describe the lifestyle of eccentric artists in the 1830‘s the notion of bohemia has served to connote alternative living. Today studies suggest that the geography of bohemia is highly concentrated in large cities. Even as new bohemian neighborhoods unfold in a dynamic urban landscape, significant continuity is said to exist between these communities and their counterparts of the past. Indeed, bohemian spaces continue to be characterized as cheap, gritty, dangerous and isolated, and these features help to attract traditional bohemians, including artists and musicians. As new technologies, techniques and communication networks facilitate creative practice in a growing range of sites, however, these highly concentrated pockets of creativity are spilling- over from downtowns to suburban spaces. In particular, there is evidence that the changing nature of independent music production is becoming increasingly difficult to reconcile with the romanticized milieu of bohemia, and that some of the key features of bohemian living hinder the creative process. Drawing on 65 interviews with musicians in Toronto I demonstrate that in order to achieve the most favorable balance between the cost, location and characteristics of their live/work spaces, some musicians in Toronto are relocating from bohemian enclaves to ‘everyday’ locations in the suburbs. 


Cultural Facilities as Important Elements of a Sustainable City: the example of Toronto, Canada

Bryan H. Massam & Brian J. Hracs (2005)

Society, Economy, Environment - Towards the Sustainable City. I. Sagan and D. M. Smith. Gdansk, Poland, Research and Education Centre for Urban Socio-Economic Development: 107–120. (PDF)