Tribe House Blog

Musings on Art for Free

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Posted : December 7th, 2011 by

By Jane Eamon originally posted here.

I just finished reading Seth Godin‘s blog about the economics of Christmas Lights and it got me thinking about giving my art away for free.  I have for the past few years, given away my CDs to anyone who wanted them or sold them at a very cheap rate so folks would buy them.  Why?  Because I wanted people to enjoy my music. It’s that simple.

I’ve had numerous discussions with people saying why are you doing something so crazy!  Shouldn’t you be trying to recoup your costs for making the CDs in the first place?  Of course, but that’s not why I make music.  I don’t want to be a business, even though I guess I should be.  I want people to listen to my music and get something from it.

Seth’s argument is that people buy Christmas lights and put them up, year after year and no one pays them to do that.  It’s much like the Internet, he poses, where people are giving away content for free all the time.  You can find just about anything you want on the Internet and more often than not, it’s free.

When I play a gig that is poorly attended and I don’t sell one CD, I leave feeling like a failure.  That’s not right.  I shouldn’t have to equate my worth and artistic value by the number of CDs I sell.  So I give them away.  I don’t want my art to become a monetary pursuit.  I think it would suffer.  But how does one make a living?

I’m starting to believe that art is its own reward.  We do it because we have to.  I won’ stop writing songs because I’m not making any money, and I won’t stop writing my blog or books or playing shows because I’m not making a living.  It gives me great joy to be able to share what I consider a gift with other.

An interesting side note – I do think that eventually I will be able to make a living.  It’s the pureness of the art and its doing that attracts enough for what I need to keep doing it…



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