I listened to a very interesting TED talk last month that got me thinking, the main theme being how artists can earn a living in this day and age. How 100 years ago if you wanted to hear music, you had to see it live, then the invention of recording, right through to the massive industry dedicated to just the distribution of music, and finally to digital downloads now pretty much superseded by streaming. 100 year juggernaut distribution industry. Now it's all free streaming.
And not that long ago, how an artist would create an album and play venues cheaply to promote the music so people would buy the album. And now, the music is streamed cheaply (free) to get people buying tickets to see the artist live at a venue. A complete reversal!
And many other interesting observations. It's worth a look: https://www.ted.com/talks/Jack Conte - Artists get paid in the digital age
Something that I could relate to was how early adopters were making money (I was, through adverts on youtube) and it boomed until 2013 when it all but stopped. I saw it happen!
What he went on to discuss was the future of how artists can get paid for their art. He started "Patreon", which I had come across and thought was a great idea. Basically crowd funding for art...as a consumer of art, you nominate you will pay a few bucks (whatever you like) each month to an artist. Simply because you want them to keep producing their art, so you fund them. We are talking art that can be digital, as in, art that can be delivered to you for zero distribution costs. So music, video, picture type art.
Artists on Patreon can then get a regular income so they can afford to live (given enough supporters) while producing their art. Consumers get a warm fuzzy, but more importantly, their artist can continue to produce the art they like. It feels so right. Is it the way forward? Maybe. Does it work? Seems to - there are a lot of artists there, and the numbers are published, and we aren't talking small amounts. Many artists living and producing art. Is it working for everyone? I doubt it, but that's not a reason to dismiss it. Will it keep working where it is working? Who knows.
I makes me also think of the Netflix/streaming video providers...as people have switched to streaming, the income to those content distributors has gone through the roof. The people want good video content, which isn't always available, so with the bountiful income, Netflix pay creators "Netflix exclusive" to make art, and the stuff I've seen is really good stuff. Such that Netflix (et al) are doing better as content creators than content distributers!
Interesting times. Huge disruption with technology - but people still love art, and artists still love to make art, what is the future of connecting them? Good food for thought.
Me; I just want to play my quaint arrangements to crowds who enjoy it as much as I like playing it. Nice when you can derive a bit of income from it too - what if I could make the same income from creating music as I do from engineering - would I? Probably not. Largely because I'm not good enough ("but if you could apply the same amount of time to music as to engineering you could!" "Yeah nah, I know proper musicians YEARS ahead of my ability/talent who already don't make a living from it"). But mostly because deep down, I'm an engineer first. Engineering fingerstyle arrangements on the side for fun :-)