It's hard to say... as someone who hopes to be a content creator for creative material, I obviously want to be able to make a happy living off of the work that I make and love - fair enough, right? But I also support the free dissemination of art to people who can't afford it. I've said this before to people, and my point is that it's not that I undervalue my work - it's that I truly _do_ value it - I value it more than I value cold, hard cash (and for someone in my position, who has been struggling on the edge of the monetary knife for well over half his life now, this is a pretty serious statement).
Yes, I want people to buy my work and pay for it - because I have expenses, and desperately want to be able to enjoy my life. But I also dislike the idea of restricting access to my work. And I dislike the idea of a large amount of revenue generated from my (as-yet hypothetical, ha) artistic creations, being siphoned into other people's (i.e. publisher's) pockets. I'd rather that the money that I lose when a publisher takes it be instead lost because a bunch of people ended up getting my work for free. Of course, it wouldn't work like that - I'd end up losing my percentage completely from work that was pirated. I mean, so would my publisher technically, but really the point is moot.
I truly value artists like Amanda Palmer, who have worked very, very, VERY, hard to build their artistic platform into something that sustains itself on different principles. She, and others like her, are pushing the boundaries of what is considered "acceptable and responsible fiscal behavior" in our money-minded world. They are treasures, who need to be supported in every way possible.
However, I also recognize the very-nearly insane level of effort that goes into that sort of lifestyle. For someone like me... well, I question the feasibility. My health isn't awesome, and my limits are sometimes unhappily short. I don't say this with self-pity (well, not much anyway), but rather with the concern in mind that I might not ever be able to manage the sort of lifestyle needed to crowdfund my way into a semi-stable income. I mean, not only does it require a specific artist and type of art, but it's an insane amount of work.
In my professional capacity as a videographer and video editor, it has been a profound lesson to learn that people very easily devalue what you do. If given the chance between paying you more and paying you less(within a fair percentile mind) I've run into my fair share of people who would choose to pay less without a second thought. Because of this I've had to set up a minimum for myself. I start at a solid minimum for simple projects, and only start charging up from that plateau, because otherwise I'm putting in more time and effort than what I make - and jobs for someone like me are not as frequent as you might think (even when you price your labor as cheaply as I do).
My mentor told me a while back, when I first got into this line of work, to take value in my time. He suggested charging for any event where I was "on the clock" - even if it was waiting in a coffee shop for my client to arrive, or driving to a gig. He stressed how important it was to value me, and that is definitely something that was hard to learn how to do. But it was also necessary, and in the end it's made me a better professional in more areas than simple finance. I hold myself differently in front of a client. I can stand up for myself, and I take greater pride in the work that I do. I value my time.
However my work as a videographer is different than my work as a writer - or even as an amateur film enthusiast with a penchant for making bizarre short films. I'd love to have the time and resources to work on a web series of some sort one of these days, and that would certainly require money, but I don't think I'd ever try to charge for my work outright. When I'm taking on contract work I'm creating something that someone else needs - and will probably show around for free. When I'm creating my own art, it's something I do because I love to do it. I guess the ideal goal is to just be good enough, and producing interesting enough work, so that people will donate and volunteer to help you continue to produce content...
So what am I left with, as an artist who holds principles that directly conflict with the capitalist mentality of the age?
Do I try to live the life of the starving artist, giving my work away to any who ask for it, simply happy that my work is reaching the world? If I were to ever to make it big (even a little big) would I find myself increasingly annoyed if I found my creations available for free on torrent sites? If people appreciate my art, wouldn't they be willing to pay for it regardless, just to support me? These are tough questions, to which I have no specific answers at present - but that's fine. I'm not trying to solve these problems right now. Changing the whole demeanor and mindset of an entire society won't happen by breakfast. Still, perhaps just asking these questions is a good place to start. All I know is that, above all else, I value art - and the integrity and bravery of those who offer their art to the world for free.
This is something I wrote in response to this article, which I can understand, and may even agree with on certain level, but which contains an overall argument and mindset that I cannot stand behind.
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