We need new ways to support our artistic communities

I’ve written a number of times about how the way that people want to consume content – news, video, music, even art – has fundamentally changed. The Internet has shifted the model from ‘push’ to ‘pull,’ whereby consumers go online to find the content they want – the story, the video, the article. Consumers only want to access the content they’re interested in, rather than being required to subscribe to a whole host of stuff that they hadn’t asked for. 

That’s why I support allowing people to access and pay for individual pieces of content – that one article, video, tutorial or podcast. In other words, giving them easy and reasonably-priced access to the small volumes of content they actually want to consume.

At no time is this more relevant than during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, a time when consumers are already counting their pennies. And the art world in particular has been severely impacted. Just take a look at what’s been going on in Europe recently:

  • The New York Times reported that, while the European cultural scene has begun to recover, artists in the UK are desperately hoping that their government will rescue them.
  • A few days later, the British government pledged a rescue package worth over £1.5 billion to keep the UK’s arts sector afloat.
  • Separate to the UK government’s package, director Sam Mendes established an emergency fund designed to specifically assist those individual arts workers who are most in need – and to do as speedily as possible. The Theatre Artists Fund promises one-off grants of £1,000 per applicant, and Netflix has already supported the Fund to the tune of £500,000.

While this news is great for artists as a group, it continues to put the onus on governments and organizations to fund the community. There are many people and devoted fans who may want to help and show their support, but simply don’t have an easy way to do so.

Now, one thing that has become apparent to me is that COVID-19 has served as a catalyst for new business models, whether that’s the evolution of remote sales or the rise of virtual technologies and communications. What’s missing, I think, is the introduction of business models that more accurately reflect how consumers want to interact with content and creators today. Art and creativity is fundamental to our daily lives, and there needs to be a sustainable model for directly supporting artists. To me, that means using technology to enable artists to make money directly from their audiences.

With the support of a tireless, dedicated team, this is exactly what I’m working on.

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