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European Tribune - Who profits from art?
I'd like to propose a formal change to this concept of "ownership". In any future sales the artist gets a certain percentage of the gains realized. Why shouldn't the creator benefit from his work the same as an author? If a book suddenly becomes popular after it is published, the author benefits from the royalties from the additional sale.

This is already happening in art - there's a movement to pay artists a proportion of any future sales between owners.

I'm not sure how likely it is to succeed, but the problem is so obvious that it's already being considered.

Music and publishing are more complicated, because art sales still rely on a single unique and (supposedly) uncopyable object. Once art becomes 'content' and it becomes easy to make perfect digital copies, sanity seems to disappear completely.

The battle with Google is really about the use of creativity for crowd sourcing. Corporations are now reserving the right to seek solutions and content online without creating the tight contracts that used to be usual.

Publishing is still fairly conservative, so this will continue for a decade or two. But sooner or later even traditional publishers will realise that there's really no need for them to continue to work like this.

This means creators will compete for sponsorship with each other, and - of course - it drives down prices and returns, sometimes to zero. In fact sometimes it makes them negative - there's at least one crowd sourcing outfit which expects creators to pay to submit their ideas in return for feedback and a small chance of having them realised in a profitable sales run.

Apple's App Store is one of the more reasonable examples - developers get 70% gross of all sales and transactions, in return for access to a huge market.

Now - I'd be surprised if Apple wasn't considering 'book' publishing. A bigger iPhone would be at least as tempting as a Kindle, especially if it also did all of the usual iPhone things.

Amazon is already trying to lock down the e-pub market with its readers, and - interestingly - it's also trying to drive the existing independent print-on-demand publishers out of business by running its own service at a loss. Once they've gone, prices will rise again.

Once you're no longer using woodpulp, the links between hardware, marketing model, customer base and capitalist orientation become a free for all.

Music of course is something else again. Myspace also made sense for Murdoch because he did a fixed income ad deal with Google. That expires next year, and it's likely that Myspace will start losing money for him then.

That would be a good time to propose an alternative. But it's obvious that the old music-as-art-object idea no longer works for CDs, unless they're packaged as art objects - signed, limited editions, all of that.

Conventional CD releases are now in a twilight zone where they're not quite media, not quite objects, and not quite profitable as music - so no one knows what's going to happen there. Artist rights will emerge eventually from a new model, but it's not going to look anything like today's music business.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Sat Jun 13th, 2009 at 01:23:49 PM EST

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