Wednesday, April 21, 2010

On creating new content

The artists descended on Stenenwal this afternoon.  It was a bit Gormley-esque.

They lined the river, crowded the doorways, sprawled amidst pencils cases and paper pads along the cobblestones,  Every horizontal surface was covered as they drew boats, sized up buildings, sketched the bridges.  The style was varied, some used rulers and protractors, others slashed graceful arcs and lines. 

It was a delight.

A mini-debate erupted on my Facebook page the other night.  I finished a presentation at 2 am and mused “I wanted to be an entrepreneur because…”.  One suggested “to build something of value yourself, …or to get rich”; “missionary or mercenary”, echoed another.  “Because you like working long hours, presumably in solitary confinement?” suggested a third.

Food for thought.   I think it comes down to content: I’m doing what I like and I want creative control of what I do.

So, content was on my mind as I stepped across the creative souls on my doorstep.  Innovation, creativity, inspiration, genius: by it’s many names, content drives and enriches the social, artistic, technologic, and economic quarters of our lives.  It trades through specialized ecosystems in industry and the art world, where it gets valued, traded, packaged, and sold.  It is the raw material of progress.

It’s sad, then, that the creators, themselves, aren’t better compensated for their contributions.

Musicians and authors make a few percent of record and book sales; inventors earn a hundred dollars from their companies for each new patent application.

But creating content takes time (it’s why I was up until 2 am that night).  A friend proposed that I should do less work that requires creating new content because it takes so much time and effort.  Better to be a consultant, advisor, mentor: “Listen and comment, but don’t offer to write or develop anything afterwards,” he confided, careful not to take assignments from our conversation.

But if I’m not willing to give up the creative side, then I have to find alternative ways to monetize content, if not the creative process through teaching or writing.

It suggests that maybe I need to reconfigure the business to attach royalty streams to what I make, take stock in client businesses, rather than just taking commissions and contracts?

The artists along my street can sell their works, teach students, accept commission.  A small percentage will succeed.  How can we, how should we, encourage the content creators, and not just the people who trade on their content?

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