Chris Castle, Arts+Labs
Flexibility, transparency, and monetization: these are some of the cornerstone tools for professional artists adapting to the effects of technology on creativity in the 21st Century. The Arts+Labs CREATE conference in Washington, D.C. brought a fresh and even handed look into the world of creators and technology entrepreneurs. Unlike the typical D.C. policy conferences, the sponsors were able to assemble a group that was overweighted with film makers, photographers and other visual artists, songwriters, performers and record producers as well as technology companies--and only a couple of lawyers.
The message that came through loud and clear from the artists is that they have all embraced the ways that their craft is affected by the Internet and the Internet culture, while at the same time trying hard to both maintain the craftsmanship of their work and stay afloat financially.
There were many successes and interesting ideas, such as Evan Lowenstein's Stageit.com, a site that allows artists to schedule online appearances that are ticketed for a limited number of fans. Stageit has been embraced by a large number of artists at varying stages of their careers and allows them to make a direct connection to the fan using online video streaming technology and ticketing. Plus, its success is counterintuitive to the Internet mass culture--the artist's availability is limited.
An attractive service at a reasonable price determined by the artist and the market that gives fans something they cannot get elsewhere--while providing transparent accounting to the artist from a trusted source. These principles can be extended to many other business models.
Right down the line, the creators at CREATE all had a positive story to tell about technology to balance the negatives. Even though online piracy was still a major concern, there was considerable hope that world governments were finally recognizing the need for coordinated law enforcement efforts to stop the "catch me if you can" element in the ad-supported piracy models and cyberlocker sites taking advantage of the jurisdictional high grass to secret themselves online.
For the first time in a long time, all the creators, film makers, musicians, visual artists, authors, software developers and the distributors who help them find an audience all had a hopeful message about their work and their futures. We have seen repeatedly that where entrepreneurs respect the rights of artists, such as iTunes, Pandora and Rhapsody, fans are attracted to that positive message and artists are able to sustain themselves. Leveraging that experience can be much more profitable in the long run than trying to scam that experience.
Lawmakers can take heart that their positive message behind law enforcement efforts like Operation in Our Sites and legislation like the Protect IP Act is resonating positively in the creative community, and artists are encouraged that they are being heard and respected by their government. These tools all lead to market rules that permit the flexibility of business models, transparency of accounting and ability to monetize that creators welcome. And need.
Chris Castle is an advisor to Arts+Labs and Managing Partner of Christian L. Castle, Attorneys with offices in Los Angeles and San Francisco.