(Part 1 here.)
From Kevin Kelley’s Technium, March 4, 2008:
A creator, such as an artist, musician, photographer, craftsperson, performer, animator, designer, videomaker, or author – in other words, anyone producing works of art – needs to acquire only 1,000 True Fans to make a living.
A True Fan is defined as someone who will purchase anything and everything you produce. They will drive 200 miles to see you sing. They will buy the super deluxe re-issued hi-res box set of your stuff even though they have the low-res version. They have a Google Alert set for your name. They bookmark the eBay page where your out-of-print editions show up. They come to your openings. They have you sign their copies. They buy the t-shirt, and the mug, and the hat. They can’t wait till you issue your next work. They are true fans. [Emphasis added.]
From Tony Comstock’s K?an of Silence, September 12, 2011:
Sometime in the last year I was reading yet another article preaching give-it-away-for-free (the it being your book, your record, your film – your whatever could be digitized) and then sell your true fans the very special limited edition, gold foil wrapped, signed collector’s edition, or if not that, a t-shirt or a stuffed animal or whatever. This approach has been proffered (time and time again) as the solution to a world that does not offer artists who work in easily replicated distribution mediums a way to exchange their work for money with those who wish to pay for it without making it freely available to those who wish to enjoy it but do not wish to pay for it.
As I was reading this it hit me; this is not an especially “low-impact” approach to making a living as an artist.
The low-impact approach would be to make the creative work once, and then distribute it in as small a foot-print form factor as possible, with protectable digital distribution being near ideal.
What is not ideal is turning songs or novels or movies into loss-leader for more crap — t-shirts, collectors edition box sets, and whatnot. Putting “Comstock Films” or “Helvetica” or “NIN” or whatever on a t-shirt and selling it for $19.95 is not value added, and it’s not a real substitute for compensating artists for their investment of time and money.
At best it’s an ugly kludge that ought to be a source of deep shame to anyone who claims to care about the real possibilities that digitized culture offers, and doubly so if you claim to care about leaving a smaller foot print on a planet increasingly strained by the crush of humanity.
Ben and Desiree: Crying Tears of Joy, is a film I shot, edited, that we ultimately decided not to release.
We decided not to release Ben and Desiree because there’s no way to put a film out on DVD (which lets us leverage Amazon’s marketing reach) without having it show up on a zillion torrent sites.
And we can’t avail ourselves of Apple’s iTunes content protection because Apple “does not accept adult films, films rated NC-17 or higher, or unrated films that could have received those ratings.” (I’m not quite sure what Apple means by “NC-17 or higher”. NC-17 is the top of the MPAA’s content rating system, but whatever…)
But Ben and Desiree is a really sweet and unexpected film (to begin with, Ben and Desiree are republicans,) and it kind of sticks in my guts that it’s sitting in our vault, stuck in the gap between what is and isn’t possible.
Then yesterday I had an idea, an idea for a way to charge for making something free, and with no t-shirts or tote-bags.
More soon(er or later). Right now I’ve got a boat to build.