I've been meaning to write a follow-up post to John Caddell's well thought-out article called Must We Give away Digital Creative Works? but I wanted to let it sink in a bit longer. I think I'm ready now, and I think the best approach is to take excerpts (italicized) and insert my thoughts:
...creative artists will have to make their money from "ancillary" projects, such as touring, personal appearances, licensing, etc.
I think this has been happening for a long time in the book publishing world. How many full-time authors do you know? Does writing provide 100% of their income, or even the majority of it? If so, you know someone in the minority. Most of the authors I know use writing as a way to get consulting gigs, speaking engagements and other jobs that generally produce more income than their books.
...if creating a work of art cannot in itself make money, it will then be difficult to invest much in that creation.
True, to some extent, but I'm not convinced it's this black and white. There are quite a few bloggers out there, for example, who earn nothing for their efforts. And yes, for many of them, that's precisely the value of the content they produce. But, how about the truly good ones? The ones where the passion is oozing out of every post? Will they continue indefinitely even if they don't make a nickel from their work? Probably not. But what if that blog helps them get discovered and results in the consulting, speaking and other money-earning endeavors noted above?
If the world immediately and exclusively switched to this model it would be insanely disruptive, no doubt. But what if we evolved to it over the course of a few years? Most people spewing worthless content in search of a quick buck would abandon the blogosphere pretty quickly, leaving only those with passion and appreciation for the new model. Would that be such a bad thing?
...it doesn't bode well for musicians or moviemakers, and, soon, book authors.
If this were true I think it would bring an end to garage bands and self-published authors. I would argue that new technologies and operations like AuthorHouse and Lulu are only helping to expand the base of musians, moviemakers and book authors. Do these new writers and creators need to look at the opportunity differently than musicians/moviemakers/book authors of 10 years ago? You bet. Although they'd all love to be the next Stephen King, my guess is most self-published authors these days are pretty happy just getting their work into print, especially if they were previously rejected by one or more "big publishers". Those expectations might change over time, but I think the future for content creators is incredibly bright and the barriers to entry have never been lower.
If a band can make money touring but not through selling CDs, they will be unlikely to spend much time in the recording studio, or to spend money on studio effects or gear.
But what's going to drive excitement for next year's tour? I don't think very many bands would be successful traveling the country and playing the same songs every year, with nothing new to add to the mix. New songs are a key ingredient in this formula, so I have a hard time believing bands could continue milking the old stuff forever; this would exclude the top 3 or 4 groups like The Who and The Rolling Stones who apparently have at least another 30 or 40 years left in their '70's hits.
I think we're in the midst of a transformation. Five or ten years from now, creative types will be quite comfortable giving away even more of their content than ever before. New models will emerge that make today's sponsorships and ancillary opportunities look tiny by comparison. There will still be the Stephen King's of the world, but more of them will have their roots in self-publishing, which means they may never have broken through in the old system. Shouldn't we consider all that a good thing?