paying artists (was: Re: Freedom or Copyright? - GNU Project - Free Software Foundation) (FSF)

Alex Hudson home at
Thu Feb 14 19:25:29 UTC 2008

On Thu, 2008-02-14 at 18:10 +0100, list at wrote:
> Am Thursday, dem 14. Feb 2008 schrieb Alex Hudson:
> > It still comes back to the basic issue with earning a living from this
> > kind of art.
> Most artists cannot make a living from their record cotract alone at all.

Most artists can be full-time professional artists on a record contract;
indeed, that's the point of a contract. It's effectively a business

> > If self-publishing and gathering income that way were so
> > easy, bands would be doing that instead of getting record contracts (and
> > a good proportion of them actually do; not many make a living from it
> > though).
> Are you trying to tell us, that nobody would make music, because the costs
> are too high??? I beg to differ!

No. What I'm saying is that there's a spectrum here.

The end goal is to redistribute money, roughly from the consumer to the
artist. Different systems reward different people in different ways: you
can completely self-record and self-publish, but that means a. you need
access to the equipment/etc. in the first place, and b. you have to
promote it yourself. If you get other people to pay for/supply all that,
they will then want some return on their investment. 

There isn't going to be a single system which works for all artists. Not
every artist wants to do everything themselves: indeed, that's just a
different cost. You either pay someone to do your marketing, or you
spend your time doing marketing which prevents you from doing something
else to earn money.

I really don't buy into the "they don't have a right to earn a living
unless they can make money on it on their own" arguments that some
people have implied. It is possible to view copyright as a kind of
monopoly, but in a true economic sense, it's nothing of the sort because
equivalent goods and services are available from a range of different
places (in the case of music, perhaps not as many as you'd want, but
still not a true monopoly). The current system allows consumers to
purchase art and reward the artist. I'm not arguing it's anything close
to perfect, but I would view any system where substantially fewer
artists were working as obviously and necessarily regressive.

One of the reasons free software works relatively well is because it's
straightforward to economically reward authors. It's somewhat difficult
to get paid for the software itself in a traditional manner, but there
are sufficient alternative income streams which allow authors to
continue to work on the software. Art is completely different, though.
You can't sell consultancy on art, or installation, or after-sales
support. The modes of reward are very different.



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