Monday, August 3, 2009

is free the new black?

I make no bones about how much I love Malcolm Gladwell. I just finished his latest smarty pants book, Outliers, and I am delightfully quaking in my boots about the death of the meritocracy. No spoiler alert here but suffice to say it ain't just hard work my friends. We may anecdotally and intuitively know it, but Mr. Gladwell shows us the proof in the pudding and that America has tons of work to do if we really want to pursue our happiness.

And we artists know it fully well I think. We see folks get grants and gigs and press that don't really "deserve" it. But they get it! What are they doing to get there? Tell me your secrets!! Even at PS122 for the brilliant Neal Medlyn's last sass factor I found myself wondering: how did these folks get to be the anointed hipsters and cultural hotties? Is it the raw pork? it must be the raw pork.

That said, I am way off track here. I wanted to talk about Malcolm's (can I call you Malcolm?) review in the July 6th The New Yorker of Chris Anderson's latest book, Free. To backtrack, for our ERPA grant application last fall, we got dozens of artists applying "to sell videos of their dance or theater work online". Overall the adjudication panel poo pooed this idea: it's gotta be free! no one will BUY your videos! not only does no one know who you are! but if it's on the internet, it's gotta be FREE!"

One of our panelists disagreed heartily and I wonder wonder wonder what he thinks of Free. Do tell! You know who you are!

The New York Times is moving from free to pricey apparently.
Youtube was, rumor has it, going to create a non-free, high-end, curated version of their super site.
The Wall Street Journal is fee-based.
Most artists already do so much for free that we struggle to have a realistic, mature money conversation that includes an honest and respectable fee for your own work! We know free!

What are you doing? What are you selling? What are you giving away? Do tell.

What do you think?

2 comments:

cookie! said...

Read this spicy commentary on Free!
http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20090701/0422125421.shtml

Fat Kid Dancing said...

Really?
"if it's on the internet, it's gotta be FREE!"???
Okay - so I am heartily against the over-pricing of archival DVDs, and get really miffed when artists want $250 for a DVD of a show they made 20 years ago. HOWEVER, I am in full support of artists putting together good quality archival dvds and or even more importantly made-for-video creative responses / extensions of their live performances. And YES they should charge something for that labor/product, just like they should be charging something for the live experience. Perhaps no one knows them today, but 10 years down the road, or even now those teachers / dedicated scholars and followers of contemporary performance would likely be willing to pay a small fee for the object.

A sample of video online for streaming free. As promotional object.

A DVD or download-able on-demand full video for sale. As promotional item, as archival item, as token/trace of an experience.

my two cents.