Why is it no longer enough just to be an artiste?
The days of yon dedicated artiste suffering for his/her art, and perhaps making tons of money in the process, are fast coming to an end. It is now more like just plain suffering for the sake of it. So who moved the artistic Cheddar?
Some might think to blame the usual suspects e.g.: the Internet, digital content piracy, and young people that like nothing better than to download illegal content; but I think the truth might be far more mundane. It may be that perhaps the time has just come for this to happen. A recent article on the Digital Music Newsletter, (registration required), observes how DIY artistes and labels (or plain old Indies) are struggling to stay on top of what was meant to be an easier way of creating, producing, promoting and monetising their artistic efforts.
The fact is that cheaper, easier and more accessible ways of creating and distributing digital content does not immediately translate to easy money after all. If anything, it’s just made the playing field more crowded, hence the need to work that much harder just to stay in the game. According to the article one member of the go-it-alone-music-brigade feels like he is just “threading water”, and losing the ability to stay on top of the music, the technology and the business aspects of being a modern day, cutting edge DIY artiste. It seems that not very many artistes are gifted with the ability to multi-task in this way; and they would much rather prefer to focus on their core craft of making and performing music, without having to be a web2.0 tech savvy, agile business guru on top of it.
The interesting thing is that this readily applies to almost all other fields of the creative industry, e.g film-makers and book authors, (perhaps not so much lap dancers), that have also drunk from the poisoned chalice of digital technology. So where will this end? Are we likely to see the return of powerful labels, studios and publishers, albeit in a digital guise, as DIY artistes get fed up of not making a decent living from the much hyped dream of a bigger slice of the pie? I don’t know the answer, but it’ll be interesting to see how this will play out over time.
Note: This post was previously published on my BCS DRM Blog, where you can find the original post, and reader comments, in the archives.