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As a business adviser one of my favourite creative industries rantras – half rant, half mantra – is “make sure you are rewarded for your creative output”. To which I like to add, for reasons of clarity, “don’t write the song but only get paid for t-shirt”.

I was reminded of this message again this morning reading an article by Ben Sisario in The New York Times, Defining and Demanding a Musician’s Fair Shake in the Internet Age published 30 Sept 2013. In the article, musician David Lowery expresses his views on an artist’s ability to make money from their music in the teenage years of the 21st century.

Although I am old enough to recognise the name of Lowery’s band, Camper Van Beethoven, I cannot hum, let alone sing, any of its tunes but I think Lowery hits the right notes in his related blog post where he opines:
“My Song Got Played On Pandora 1 Million Times and All I Got Was $16.89, Less Than What I Make From a Single T-Shirt Sale!”

In the past, what has troubled me about this strange commercial lay-off has been that if businesses and practitioners in the creative industries don’t value their work, then who can blame their customers for not valuing it either. Once you price your creative output (that song or that design) at $0 or very close to, then that is how the larger market will value it too. And who can blame them? 

I am constantly disappointed (and exasperated and flummoxed) by the number of creative BUSINESSpeople I have met who are prepared to price their product or service so low that there’s no profit. They justify this approach because they say they need to get some work in the door; OR they will work for free in the hope of so impressing the client they’ll get some paid work someday; OR give it away (via someone else who’ll exploit it) because it will be good marketing; OR offer it up for free in exchange for a new follower or another like.

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Photo Credit: Teratoiid via Compfight cc

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2013
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