As an artist and holder of intellectual copyright, I still feel that there is a lack of constructive solutions to this ever-growing problem: How are artists supposed to make a living. There is no reversing in the road to “Open Everything” and this is a good thing. Yes, the majority of the entertainment industry with its arrogance and short sightedness has failed to act on this. However, in my experience, most of those advocating ‘free internet’ and ‘free content’ and the ‘abolishment of intellectual copyright’ are not intellectual copyright holders and do not have a full appreciation of what it means to be an independent, up and coming artist and have no idea just how much of an industry it is. Please, let’s get together, learn from one another and crowd source some actual solutions that will enable artists to make at least a modest living.
I’ve been asked a lot why I have not gone down the crowd-funding road. Although I’ve been tempted and have a few friends (mostly American) who have used Pledge and similar platforms successfully, I have a real problem with the actual concept. I feel that living off fan donations is not viable by any stretch of the imagination. It’s like owning a shop, but asking all your customers to donate money towards the shop’s rent before they enter to buy things… I’ve seen too many cringe worthy crowd-funding videos of timid artists, trying to keep their cool whilst saying things like: “Oh, and if you donate this much, you can have this jacket I’m wearing too – and here’s a picture I drew yesterday, which you’ll get if you through in an extra 10 quid”. It’s not that I haven’t seen artists who have crafted very sweet and appropriate crowd funding campaigns, it’s just that I’ve seen too many that haven’t.
As of late, Amanda Palmer has hit the headlines with her very successful crowd funding campaign. I loved her video (and love her Ukelele Anthem too!), but let’s get one thing straight: Amanda Palmer was part of the very successful group ‘The Dresden Dolls’ who released two studio albums with major label backing and billboard chat placements, world tours, etc. For an artist who has had a successful career of about 10 years and an international fan base of size to suit, of course you can achieve a great result like she has. It is important to keep in mind that it costs a lot of time, resources and money to get to a point where one has a fan base large enough to ‘live off’. I know that might not be a very cool thing to say, but it’s true, so there!
So where should support come from?
Some countries seem to put a lot more value on new music and do a much better job in funding talent, such as Switzerland, Germany and the Nordic Countries. It is a little ironic that the countries responsible for the majority of groundbreaking music, the UK and the USA, provide so little funding opportunities for the arts.
I really don’t care if you download my music for free, I may even encourage you to do so – but we can’t survive in the new if we don’t shake up the old and at the moment I feel stuck between an industry that won’t move and a world of technology that’s growing exponentially. We need a new, radically different support system and I have yet to hear anyone come up with viable ideas – let’s get thinking!!