John Luther Adams: Consider the Value of Music

John Luther Adams: Consider the Value of Music

Here at NewMusicBox, we have never put up a paywall, hosted a Kickstarter campaign, or subjected you to an annual pledge drive. That unassuming yellow donate button you see up top extends a request for your support, but otherwise you are free to explore our deep catalog of carefully produced analysis and commentary–content that you’ll find nowhere else–at your leisure. And that’s important to us. New Music USA brings you NewMusicBox and Counterstream Radio as a way to provide everyone who cares about new American music with an accessible gathering place. Through these pages, we celebrate music makers, talk through pressing issues that face the field, and–perhaps most importantly–offer unfiltered access to the music itself. Each year we deliver hundreds of articles and thousands of listening hours right to your computer or mobile device free of charge. But today, using our best NPR voices, we do ask: What is continued access to this music and this community worth to you?

In a letter written by composer John Luther Adams, he offers his thoughts on the value of financially supporting the work New Music USA does each day:

Dear Friend,

Our society values material things. Things we can own. Things we can use. Things we can wear. Things we can hang on our walls.

Music is nonmaterial. It is composed of time and thin air.

More and more in our Internet economy we hear that “music wants to be free”.

John Luther Adams

Maybe so. But how does new music continue? How do creative musicians sustain a life in music?

It’s not easy. It never has been. And it probably never will be.

And beyond economics, what is the deeper value of music?

Music is the voice of creative thought. Creative thought is an essential quality of being human. It’s also essential to solving the problems of our troubled world.

In a world threatened by war, terrorism and climate change, music matters more than ever.

We need new music that inspires us to become more fully alive, to imagine new ways of living in harmony with one another and with all life on this beautiful stone spinning in space.

New Music USA supports musical voices as broad and diverse as the landscapes of America. Your generosity helps these voices be heard.

Consider the value of music in your world and your life. And please give whatever you can to help New Music USA keep creative thought and creative music alive and thriving.

Yours sincerely,

So take a moment to put a personal price tag on it…and then hit that button.


NewMusicBox provides a space for those engaged with new music to communicate their experiences and ideas in their own words. Articles and commentary posted here reflect the viewpoints of their individual authors; their appearance on NewMusicBox does not imply endorsement by New Music USA.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Conversation and respectful debate is vital to the NewMusicBox community. However, please remember to keep comments constructive and on-topic. Avoid personal attacks and defamatory language. We reserve the right to remove any comment that the community reports as abusive or that the staff determines is inappropriate.