Profit in art?
Francis Ford Coppola recently made an interesting statement in an interview about whether artists (in the broadest sense of the word) should be paid for their work. Here’s the relevant paragraph:
‘You have to remember that it’s only a few hundred years, if that much, that artists are working with money. Artists never got money. Artists had a patron, either the leader of the state or the duke of Weimar or somewhere, or the church, the pope. Or they had another job. I have another job. I make films. No one tells me what to do. But I make the money in the wine industry. You work another job and get up at five in the morning and write your script.
This idea of Metallica or some rock n’ roll singer being rich, that’s not necessarily going to happen anymore. Because, as we enter into a new age, maybe art will be free. Maybe the students are right. They should be able to download music and movies. I’m going to be shot for saying this. But who said art has to cost money? And therefore, who says artists have to make money?
In the old days, 200 years ago, if you were a composer, the only way you could make money was to travel with the orchestra and be the conductor, because then you’d be paid as a musician. There was no recording. There were no record royalties. So I would say, “Try to disconnect the idea of cinema with the idea of making a living and money.” Because there are ways around it.’
The full article is here: Francis Ford Coppola: On Risk, Money, Craft & Collaboration
In this digital age, access to and sharing of art in all its forms becomes easier and freer. Perhaps Coppola is right: we should look beyond the commercial models we are used to and think of profit in art in different ways. Artists are clearly deeply exercised by the issue of how to make a living in these challenging times and some interesting approaches have come to the fore: Radiohead were heralded as visionary for launching their In Rainbows album by asking fans to pay whatever they liked. 3 out of 5 people paid nothing. Free artswapping schemes on the internet/twitter have developed with some success. More lateral thinking in this digital world is required it seems, its early days.