How Will The Artists Get Paid?

I spent some time yesterday reading Dan Bricklin’s essay How Will The Artists Get Paid? (via Joel on Software).

The essay is well written, and a number of this blog’s readers will enjoy the biblical references to the role of art that pepper its introduction. It makes an interesting riposte to the comments by DJ Danger Mouse at Web 2.0 and reported at that:

Artists are responsible, because for some reason we think we should be millionaires for making people smile. But I don’t worry too much, because it will be over soon. There won’t be a market for making people smile because kids will just do it for free.

I’ve enjoyed watching the Grey Album and its associated phenomena grow as legends. I’ve even volunteered to help with Downhill Battle. But without context those comments concerned me.

Certainly some artists are paid far too much for what they do. Often it’s those with the most “manufactured” results who get paid the most, and the art of “amateurs” can often be superior to much produced by “professionals”. But as Bricklin’s essay points out:

Some types of art, especially if they require full-time devotion for proficiency, lend themselves to full-time careers if one wants to be at the highest level

As many, many people become disillusioned with the music industry, restrictive copyright practices and their like, it’s very easy to throw the baby out with the bathwater. Initiatives like Creative Commons and Bricklin’s essay, while far from the last word, illustrate the need for a reasoned, more nuanced debate about how the arts are to be supported.

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