By Jason Ashcraft

Obama vs. McCain. Which Candidate is Better for Musicians?

By Jason Ashcraft

I did something I have never done before. At the age of 31, I finally registered to vote. Why now you may ask? Because we are just days away from what will prove to be the most important presidential election of our generation, and I'm not going to let my personal reservations about government trump my most powerful concerns. As we head into this election with more critical problems and hardships than any other time in our life, one thing is inevitably clear; we must bring about change.

President Bush's failed economic policies have forced millions of home foreclosures, record unemployment rates, lowering wages, reduced benefits, skyrocketing energy and gas costs, and the exportation of jobs to international shores, while political and corporate corruptions and scandals flourished. The Bush administration has typically turned a blind eye and a deaf ear to the American working class families' problems that his administration created. Mainly because they have only listened to the lobbyists that represent huge corporations, so therefore most laws passed are only good for wealthy corporate titans and their cronies who make up their big club. It's really no surprise that the working middle class of America has lost all our faith in the government that is supposed to protect and preserve our right to live and prosper, and not disable it. . Instead they strip away our basic American liberties, tell us America is still "Land of the FREE" but you can't find one damn thing in this world that doesn't take your money. More like "Land of the FEE." Everything is about money and that is a problem.

So what does this have to do with musicians? The majority of these hardships are working middle class hardships, which is exactly the social class that most musicians belong to, especially in Kentucky. Thus, these hardships not just felt in Kentucky - signify a war on the working middle class nationwide and a clear threat to many musicians being able to export their sound. We are being muted, slowly but surely.

The profession of being a musician has become increasingly challenging over the past few years, due to changes in technology and rising fuel costs. These problems hit at the heart of every musician and are considered industry issues, impacting each musician in a different way. With the proliferation of online pirating software and disc-burning technology, most musicians find it nearly impossible to make a living from album sales alone. At best, most musicians (depending on if they have a record deal and its terms) should only expect to reimburse their label (and themselves) for the cost or recording and producing an album. In this day and age, musicians must tour relentlessly and constantly. Musicians make more money by filling clubs and stadiums with people than they do selling albums to them. But that is exactly where many musicians find themselves in a ‘Catch 22,' so to speak. With skyrocketing gas prices, many musicians are now finding it a challenge to make money from touring after the cost of gas is deducted. How can they afford to tour if gas prices remain at the current astronomical levels and continue to rise? Simply stated, they can't. Alternative sources of energy are going to be a must if the music industry is going to continue to exist. Can you imagine what it would be like to have significantly fewer concerts and live shows?

If America does not eliminate its dependence on foreign oil and aggressively transition to alternative sources of energy, the music industry like many other industries - will begin to perish as a result, thus extinguishing the ability of musicians to export their sound beyond their hometowns. This issue alone is what makes this year's presidential election so important for musicians across the country.

With that being said, we must elect a president who will move America into these types of renewable and green energy initiatives as quickly as possible.

The proposed energy policies of Barack Obama and John McCain are quite clear, therefore making it easy to distinguish the difference between the two candidates, and making the choice clear for what is best for the music industry. Musicians must take note of these differences and consider it as a guiding reason when they vote.

Barack Obama's policies would aggressively transition America off our dependence of the expensive and environmentally hazardous fossil fuels, particularly oil, which we buy from the countries that finance terror against our nation. Obama would start by investing more than $150 billion dollars over the next ten years (or $15 billion per year) into alternative, renewable energy technologies, which in turn will create new jobs. Under Obama's plan, we would reduce carbon emissions by 80% below the 1990 levels by 2050. Obama will also create a new $7,000 tax credit for those purchasing vehicles with hybrid or alternative fuel technology. Under Obama's plan there would be over 1 million hybrid technology vehicles on the roads by 2015. Additionally, Obama's plan calls for modest additional offshore drilling and tapping the reserve supply as a short term relief effort at the pump. However, he realizes this is not the long term solution for eliminating America's dependence on oil and fossil fuel, so continuing to drill is not moving America in a new direction. You wouldn't wean a drug addict off drugs by continuing to give them drugs, right?

John McCain's policies on energy are contrary to Obama's plan and not as aggressive about moving America to alternative energy sources and reducing our dependency on fossil fuels. One of his first initiatives would be to lift the ban entirely on off-shore drilling. Lifting this ban does nothing to reduce our move to dependence on fossil fuels. You will not see a meaningful price reduction at the pump. On top of that, the increased off-shore drilling will likely result in more catastrophic environmental disasters such as oil spills. It also wastes valuable manpower and resources that could be used for the development of alternative renewable energy sources. McCain proposes a modest $2 billion per year to develop alternative energy technologies, compared to Obama's $15 billion annual investment. Under McCain's energy plan, we would reduce carbon emissions by 60% below the 1990 level by 2050, compared to Obama's 80%. McCain's tax credit for purchasing vehicles with hybrid technology would be $5,000, compared to Obama's $7,000.

This is just a few of the defining differences between Obama and McCain's energy plan. Essentially Barack Obama is the more logical choice for the working middle class citizens, including musicians. He is the definite choice for musicians who are worried about their ability to continue to tour and export their music.

McCain takes a more typical Republican position, supporting the upper class and wealthy elite. While it's true that some of his policies may be good for bands like Metallica, the Eagles, Jimmy Buffet and other millionaire artists, the vast majority of musicians especially the indie music scene will see their ability to continue music as a profession diminish.

How can we afford to trust McCain's all-of-a-sudden adoption of "reform" policy, when for the last 8 years he has voted in favor on many of Bush's policies? Many of the Bush administration policies are the defining reasons why so many hard working Americans can't afford to live. And now all of the sudden - McCain is going to reverse the failed policies he has long supported, and change America for the better? At age 73? Right. He'll have a heart attack even before he could ever figure it out. Can you imagine having Sarah Palin as President?

Wake up people! We can't afford to continue going down the road we have been going for the last 8 years! It's time for change!

Barack Obama is the change that America needs. I encourage you to visit his website ( and learn about his policies and plans to change America for the better.

Plato once said, "When the mode of the music changes, the walls of the city shake.' Well, I can't think of a better time then now!