31. March 2011 · Comments Off on Pay for Play? · Categories: Other People's Words, Ramble

Putting the law aside for a moment (which actually isn’t so novel these days), the internet has taught us that it’s very difficult to monetize what you cannot ‘exclusivitize’. Any content that can be fixed in digital media (music, video, article, photo, software, etc.) is easily replicated and swapped and is therefore difficult to monetize. If Range Rovers could be cut & pasted or dragged & dropped they too would lose their value.

What isn’t replicable and what our fans do value is our time. And theirs. Our fans are schoolteachers, bank tellers and doctors. They fold t-shirts at the GAP, bag groceries and drive tractors. They make $8/hr, $20/hr, $500/hr and beyond. To them, time is money.

The notion of doing something once and then cutting and pasting it (like a record) isn’t easily analogized by our fans. They can’t fold one shirt or fill one bag of groceries and then cut and paste it. They can’t do one spinal surgery and cut and paste it. Every task requires them to be present in the moment and each has its own inherent risks. Our fans recognize the value of our time and appreciate our individual efforts.


I appreciate Evan Lowenstein’s thoughts. Do read the whole thing!

I think the one problem, though, is that so many people (usually not in any arts field) think any art should be free or at least cheap. Many think we should get “real jobs” ‐ fold shirts, bag groceries or whatnot — and do our art for free in our free time. Those that think that way don’t realize that we spend hours preparing: practicing, studying the part and/or score, listening to works, making reeds, and of course we have extremely expensive equipment we provide. Or they know this and think that’s the way it is with any “hobby”.

Sometimes those folks and others also think that what we do is “fun” and “fun” isn’t worth money and many hate their own jobs ‐ be they minimum wage jobs or six figure jobs — and the fact that we find our job fulfilling and, yes, sometimes even fun seems wrong. I am blessed to have this job I have. I sometimes do marvel at the fact that I get paid to do something I truly enjoy (most of the time). But enjoyment of a job doesn’t mean it’s worth less. At least I hope not.

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