Re: [rumori] gifts

From: The Evolution Control Committee (
Date: Sun Apr 28 2002 - 18:13:39 PDT

>Artists, stop worrying about getting compensated. Art is a gift.
>Find another way to make money. Get a day job. Then stop

     I had a day job for many, many years. I had a promising career ahead
of me as a life-long computer programmer, probably could have worked for
some budding start-up, certainly could have cleaned up on Y2K contract
work. I didn't. Unfortunately, each job I had just showed me how I was
helping some large company (and the managing executive officers, each with
salaries umpteen times my own) get all the richer while I gave most of my
time and energy to them. I kept jumping ship to smaller, less profitable,
or more non-profit places. In the end I was working for a teen counselling
agency (still doing computer work). It was fine, but after a few years i
realized that I was -still- doing their work and not my own, and too often
had little energy left over to realize ideas I had transcribed while
sitting isolated and bored at work.
     I quit. I figured that with a computer background I could get a future
jump when I needed, which would probably be after 4-5 months, when I was
starving and broke. 4 months past. Then 6. Then 12. Then 24. I found that I
was able to adapt to my jobless lifestyle, pulling in income from various
sources. They were much, MUCH more difficult than just banking that
bi-weekly paycheck. Now, almost 3 years later, I'm still essentially
jobless, still near broke, still struggling, but still making it as well.
     When I had a job, I was usually very generous with my music. I
wouldn't worry about getting paid for each CD, I wouldn't worry to much
about getting paid for live shows. I'd loan my equipment to other people
free. Now I have to be a bit more "greedy", or at least money-minded; I
have to get some sort of money back, lest I go completely broke.
     However, I am approximately one zillion times happier with my life and
my art...
     I'm honestly not sure whether I'm writing all of this in support or
against Steev's point. I've seen it both ways, and it's certainly a lot of
headache and stress when you don't know where your next meal or rent
payment is coming from. On the other hand, I've had some unforgettable
adventures and experiences that I wouldn't have had if I'd stayed regularly

At 11:42 AM 4/27/02 -0700, you wrote:
>Absolutely. I totally agree with that 200%. but none of that
>means you should demand cash for it. you're assuming that the
>only way to value art is as an exchange-economy commodity. which
>is just not true. ...

     Well, that would be great if somebody every once in a while offered me
a newer microwave or a PCMCIA MIDI card for my stuff, but that hasn't
happened yet. I'd like to get something for my efforts, so that I can
continue with those efforts.

>In fact, examine the standards: how often do we
>put down "bad pop music" or other crappy culture because it's
>"too commercial"? ...

     Sure, but there's a lot of grey area between the extremes of
"commercial" and "experimental". Actually it's those grey areas which
really fascinate me; i think it's kind of like a musical virus... if you
could somehow hit the target which has the most experimental and most
commercial score (old example, but "Oh Superman" comes to mind) I think
that's a great thing. I think it was Lloyd a few months ago who suggested
that the pop masses need to be pitied, rather than shunned; they're the
poor unfortunates who need to be shown "the way". How are us Disciples of
the Unusual Tone going to do that if not through occasional pop venues,
channels, or styles? Perhaps I'm egotistical to want this, but I'd love to
convert them away from the dark side of top 40.

>Pan also said:
> "The artist takes a step back from the "inspiration", looks it
> over, then attempts to reproduce/comment on/reject
> it...[..snip..]..This step back implies an ability to avoid
> "walking the maze" every day." "
>It sounds like you're basically saying that artists are these
>special sensitive people that need to be protected from the real
>world so they can work their special genius magic. I disagree.
>On the contrary, I think the best art often comes from normal
>people who have been down in the trenches experiencing real life.
>The worst art i've ever seen has been made by pretentious people
>who've never done anything but go to art school straight out of
>their art-focused high school. ...

     But some other of the worst art I've seen has been office humor and
fax jokes. How many bands do you know that sing about their office jobs (in
either good or bad ways)?
     I'm trying to think now about what percentages of the music I listen
to have been made by people with regular jobs. I suppose the percentage has
probably been on a slight but steady decline from the self-employed towards
the regularly-employed, but that's probably because I now dive further to
seek out less and less commercial and "typical" music... it's still
probably heavily skewed towards the self-employed side though.

>I agree with Bob, though, that it helps to have the kind of day
>job that still leaves you with enough energy and time to do your
>art. It's a great idea to have some kind of "artist employment
>agency" which finds dayjobs for artists. Though I don't know if
>I agree with the criteria you give, Bob. brain numbing? no way!

     Totally agree with you, though I would still like to entertain "brain
numbing" jobs because sometimes it's good to have a job you don't take home
with you. I tend to get involved in things that I do, paid or otherwise,
and often can't quit thinking about something work-oriented that's complex
and/or troubling and/or intellectually stimulating. But it's the need for a
"Bob job" that makes me sad when I travel outside of the US (as I am now)
and see countries which have national health care and 5 weeks of job
vacation minimum and other things that make being an artist all the
possible while still being employed.

>And here's one more thing: even if everyone got compensated by
>some magic world-wide rights-tracking system, so what? most of us
>would get a few pennies or maybe a few dollars a month based on
>the number of copies of whatever we do that gets listened to or
>viewed. so then what? ...

     That may not be a living on its own, but what if you combine that with
payment for live performances, sales of your CDs, and so on? Maybe that's
just enough to make a living. In the end, that's all I want -- to make a
living, but not a killing.

>... really only .0001% ever get to be superstars or even to live
>off their artistic pursuits. The rest are chaff in the mill,
>ground up and spit out. So I'm saying, give up, you're never
>going to make it to that promised land. ...

     Whose promised life is that? I just want to work for myself; I don't
want a pool and a coke habit.

>tell your kids, if you have any.

     I don't, which is how I can get away with this crazy crap. :-)

     Good topic actually. Cheers from London,

- Mark

--                                      The Evolution Control 
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