Lecture Four: The Ups (and downs and downs and downs) of Being an Artist
[September 30, 2013]
- Breaking bad was supposed to be in Delaware but was offered tax credits and subsidize
to film in New Mexico. Best is there, second is Virginia.
- Race to the bottom - towns competing to get the new target. They compete until all of
them are losing money. Vancouver made a lot of money, but they have not got out the
race yet. Toronto has a Hollywood website that gives them all the locations available.
Carrie is being filmed in Mississauga right now - they paid a lot of money to attract it but
they're going to be losing a lot of money. It's only going to be set in Mississauga, not even
known on the show to be at Mississauga
Readings: Starkman, Dean. 2011. “Confidence Game: The Limited Vision of the New Gurus.”
Columbia Journalism Review. November 8, 2011. 2) Lowery, David. “Meet the New Boss, Worse
than the Old Boss?” Thetrichordist.com. April 15, 2012.
- One-sided story from the readings to underscore the more mainstream idea of
information and albums should be free, money can be made elsewhere (T-shirts, touring,
- IRAA is a liar. Shirky is also a liar. The first quote in his piece " The question that mass
amateurization poses to traditional media is ‘What happens when the costs of
reproduction and distribution go away? What happens when there is nothing unique
about publishing anymore because users can do it for themselves?’ We are now starting
to see that question being answered." – that's stupid. Cost of reproduction and
distribution" is marginal costs - that is the cheaper end of the line, the expensive side is
the fixed costs. Fixed costs are still too expensive with crazy risks. Shirky is saying the
media giants would benefit from the removal of those costs, but that's untrue – that's not
where the financial risks lie. Clay Shirky himself has gotten very rich from preaching info
that should be free.
o The argument about new journalism is its differentiation from the old journalism
where long-term target of a big industry, spending years on one story, doesn't
exist anymore because it is too expensive. To do so now, you must have the
support of an institution. For the things new journalism promises, they have not
been able to support long-term journalism yet. Citizen journalism: only easy with
Readings: Lowery, David. “Meet the New Boss, Worse than the Old Boss?” Thetrichordist.com.
April 15, 2012.
- It's not that there are no institutions now, there are just new ones - and old ones might not
be that bad. New bosses are ones such as iTunes, Amazon, etc. They carry no fixed
costs (no production), and therefore no risk. But with every self-published book sold on
Amazon, their profit margin is 370,000% on average because their marginal costs are
essentially zero now. They are charging more than an old mom-and-pop store, which had
physical stock and store.
Readings: Timberg. Scott. “The Creative Class is a Lie” Salon.com, Oct. 1, 2011.
- The Creative Class: Some guy said if you want your city to do well, you have to attract
the creative class. His basic story is calling for gay/white people - the gay index. This
artist said no because this industry isn't making money Baumol's Cost Disease - more expensive to make art. Songs have gone up in price because we
have not gotten more productive in the production, writing of songs. So the production is still as
expensive, but value of it is still going down. So to even out, you cut down on quality. It's hard to
convince artists to cut down on quality though,
"Old" Media Socialism
- Old media actually kept many artists alive and surviving. Old media used to give artists
advances in order to attract artists to sign with a certain brand/media giant, and you don't
have to give the advance back. If your album does not sell, then the advance is yours. If
you do, then the advance is taken out of that and you make surplus. This was popular in
- Late 20th century was not a good time to be an artist; only 7% of these artists only
earned out their advances and made a profit for the companies. Meaning that the one/two
people earning out their advance are doing so much more she is paying for those that did
not earn out.
- For artists, the old media industries are kind of like Canada. You can fail and make
albums that don't work, but you still have welfare and health care. But the new one is like
US, where you would just end up on the streets.
- 95-93% of products lose money. But who's losing money?
Shifting Risk in a Brave New World
- All the risk has been shifted to artists. In the old world, the studio took all the risk, and the
artist took zero risk. The new world, with things like Apple, the artist carries all the risks,
while the conglomerate has zero risk. They only risk a bit of hard drive space. That's why
it's shady they're still taking 30% profit.
- The work that old