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Digital consumption

Digital consumption

I am not surprised to see horrified faces of some artists. While in some branches of art the archaic business models have been imploding for years and new models are being built, I am still in awe to see the lethargic rate information diffusion among others. Either many of them really do not understand the consequences of digital revolution or simply ignore it until one of them announces alarmingly that things may have to change.

The waves of change were most obvious in the music world. I dont have the numbers, but I would say that imaging market (ie photography market size) is very small compared to size of music market. Digitization of music not only opened floodgates for unprecedented mass consumption and content generation, but also it will be the cause of demise of existing business models. We see new models such as Apple iTunes, which are widely successful, but they may still be transitional model. Better yet, the most daring attempts involve "appreciation" based models such as the one recently tried by RadioHead on their most recent release. As an art consumer, I am for "appreciation" based models, which have been around in software development for years. Id like to donate directly to the artist or creator, as token of my appreciation his/her current work and support of their future work. I do not want to pay for middlemen, who have little or no contribution to the final artistic expression. Most importantly, “the appreciation model” allows the consumer to set the value of work, rather then the artists, or worldwide titans to dictate the final price.

Most artists fail to understand that in digital world, irrespective of the medium, if the consumer feels the value of the artwork is not commensurate with its asking price (monetary value assessed by artist or others), somebody can and will make exact reproduction and get what they want for the price they want. The models that are based on selling artwork for an arbitrary price such as $15, despite <$1 bill-of-materials, will not survive long.

The digital technology empowers the consumer. Inevitably, artists are both liberated, and weakened.

Diplomas, classes, practices, rarely make artists, or engineers, and scientists for that matter. Although education definitely helps a great deal in the latter two groups, artists in particular have very low entry barriers. Beside less protection, low entry barrier further erodes the value of artists in general. Yet, truly great artists are few and far in between. (Why?)

Enjoy life,

Mehmet Ozgur
posted on 5/1/08
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