Charting the Course of Value, Public Consumption, and Self-Interest as a Creative

Defining the value of your creative offspring is never an easy thing.   What are the challenges of charting the course of all of the vehicles available to creatives for sharing their work with the world while making profit?

Let’s be honest…..creative life has always carried a price tag. In a recent article, “The Finger’s on the Self-Destruct Button: The Ugly Truth about Apple, Google, Spotify, and the Rest of the Music Streaming Universe” by Anil Prasad, yet another layer is added to the ongoing discussion about the accessibility of music online. Currently, as it relates specifically to musicians, they are challenged by the structure of the various live stream companies (Spotify, Google, and Apple to name a few) in regards to the monetary compensation for the music shared by these services. In other words, things are not so clear-cut in terms of the financial structure and what artists are compensated for their product. Specifically, the article mentions:

“While the streaming companies propagate a myth of mass-availability offering greater possibility of mass-adoption, the truth is it almost never works this way. It’s up to you to create your own audience and accompanying ecosystem via community, social media, virtual events, and non-electronic outreach, be that gigs, touring, and creative guerrilla tactics related to physical spaces that cater to musical interests. None of these things depend on your music being on one of the big streaming services. You can send people interested in what you do anywhere to access your music.”

This is a bigger complication of not only sharing one’s creative offspring (whether it is music, visuals, words, etc.) but also making a living from leading the wildly creative life. In trying to make a living through one’s passion of creativity one has to constantly navigate their own best interest while inviting the world in on their love for that which they create. For example, take the images that are produced by a visual artist or photographer and the many vehicles for making this work accessible. Like the music streaming (similar but not totally the same), the avenues of Flickr, Instagram, and other instantaneous mechanisms make it easy to share visual creative endeavors. There are also other vehicles such as Fine Art America that allow a way for artists to sell their work. However, the ownership of the visual work alongside individuals paying for securing an image is quite the complex scene.

Prasad’s article highlights the need for an individual pondering their navigation around all of this to ask themselves a number of questions. If you are creating and would like to make a living from it, where do you draw the line in making things accessible? At what risk, gain or harm to yourself? What is the right balance between making one’s creative products/services accessible to the world versus needing to earn a living?

What do you seek/want to create as it relates to recognition/rights/making a living? There are no easy answers especially when it involves the intersection of the interest of the creative or artist, the companies or vehicles involved in helping to usher forth the product of creativity and accessibility to the public.

But one thing is clear–define success and value (monetary or other) for your creations on your own terms.

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