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Thread: Piracy, Crativity, Money and You
09-09-2012, 09:36 AM #1
Piracy, Crativity, Money and You
You know something has been rattling in my brain for awhile now maybe even longer since piracy has been in the social conciousness longer. I have some sort of problem with the arguments about protecting your creativity and authorship because its not how i feel. I am a creative person and i dont know if its any good and i havent made anything commercial or out there in the public eye.
I have a confession i dont care if you pay me for my work bevause the first thing i think about when releasing my baby of a creation is whether people like and enjoy it and get the themes and are changed by it the last thing on my mind is if you paid me for those feelings. But of course i care about money you need it to live you need it to feed yourself and obviously if you want to make the better films or games you need it to really be your full time job. Well theres your dilemma.
So yeah im in two minds about piracy i think its great that people can see your work without any barriers that companies usually have to their work buti do believe artists should be paid for their work but i thought before that should be money but now im not to sure. I watched the Tetris documentry and when it said that the artists game was all over russia as a cultral hit but he didnt have any money just fame i said to myself thats really good i wish i had something i created all around the country.
And i feel the people who argue about protection and various of forms of gating and monetisation are not true artists probably.
09-09-2012, 03:12 PM #2
I don't think what you say is unusual, nor does Pajitnov's comment surprise me. People who create things want attention and acknowledgement. It's just how we work. If our signal is received, we're happy. If it's not, we're not. And if we can keep signalling without needing to also have a 'normal' job, then we are ecstatic.
I do think, though, that there's a significant difference between solo work and group work. For instance, I've been putting free music on the internet since the late 90s, but I've also worked as a soundtrack musician in the same period of time, which I absolutely will not do without payment, even though a lot of the actual craft is pretty similar, and often just as enjoyable.
What makes the difference for me is that as a soundtrack composer, I don't get to call the shots, I'm beholden to the whims of my employer, and I get very little in the way of recognition as a result. These are all wildly opposite to the experience of creating something on my own, where I can do anything I like, I don't have to vet any of my decisions, and I can enjoy any and all glory that might result.
So, for me, the money I'm paid weighs against the loss of creative freedom and the lack of fame (I realise after typing this that I've just described the process of 'selling out,' but I've never attached a negative stigma to that - see paragraph #1). I don't believe the desire for this money undermines my artistry, nor does it mean that I'm greedy, and while I honestly don't give a shit whether or not something I work on gets pirated, if I actually thought about it properly I would recognise that a product's financial success is going to make a pretty big difference to whether or not that team can hire me again.
Anyway, long post. My overall point is that as you should keep in mind that when we're solo artists we have an extremely different perspective on things than people who are in a team. Flying solo, we always have full control over everything. In a team, almost nobody does. The majority will be deferring to somebody else's vision. It's not unreasonable that they get paid for that.
P.S. I also suspect there's an 'us and them' aspect too, especially in tight-knit teams - "how dare they steal from us!" - but the role I play is too mercenary for me to have seen this myself. I'm thinking about how if something I'd made on my own got pirated, it'd be my right to shrug it off. But if it was something I'd worked on with a bunch of people, I'd be a bit of a dick to do that. I'm probably being overly romantic with this, but I think there's a selflessness there, with people being protective of their team rather than feeling genuinely, personally robbed.
I have literally nothing to base this on.
09-09-2012, 03:46 PM #3
If they're gonna complain about piracy because they're not making any dough for their stuff, I think it's reasonable enough. Some people do enjoy the entertainment they've produced but they're not really appreciating their effort just by pirating them. They need to buy them as well if they want to keep them afloat and keep on making the stuff they love; although some people aren't really that materialistic, just wanting to inspire people and keep on making their products regardless of money.
Then again, the ones who really complain about piracy are the publishers. They released the products and if they're not getting any money out of it despite it getting some critical reception, they'll go overboard. Laying people off, shutting down studios and/or never greenlighting any future projects they deem unprofitable. But well, that's business for ya.My widdle awrt bwog where I post my widdle skwibbwings wight here.
09-09-2012, 04:13 PM #4
I feel that this film is somehow relevant:
10-09-2012, 01:11 AM #5
Interesting topic, and what Gwilym is saying kind of makes me think of the issue but from a somewhat inverse perspective. I work as a freelance web developer and cinematographer, and the amount of times I've been asked to work on a project for free is astounding. Either it's a "oh this Facebook 2.0 is a million-dollar idea, once we make it big you'll become rich with us!" (protip: they never work out) or a "this will look great on your portfolio / reel." That's all great and fancy but... I need to eat, and food costs money.
Exactly. Following your passion is great and rewarding in an of itself, but passion alone won't pay your bills and feed you. You do need to take a pragmatic approach and make money as well. Definitely agree that it's often "your own project - unpaid but with 100% artistic freedom" or "someone else's project - paid, but without artistic freedom." You really need a good mix of both to survive and feel personally fulfilled.
and while I honestly don't give a shit whether or not something I work on gets pirated, if I actually thought about it properly I would recognise that a product's financial success is going to make a pretty big difference to whether or not that team can hire me again.
One other thing I also noticed is that being paid per-hour vs. flat fee makes a difference. If I am getting paid by the hour and a client keeps making me do little changes, then reverting them, and going back and forth, or scraps a lot of my work - it's ok, I still get paid, who cares. But if it's a flat fee, I started to feel it's not only as a waste of time and inefficiency, but also lack of appreciation for my work and efforts. Absolutely logical, yet interesting when I noticed how my perspective changed!
Sorry to be taking it into an off-tangent, but Gwilym's post just reminded me of these few quirks of working freelance; sounds like you face the same issues in world of composing :) Going back to OT, I think both of us agree that one can want to make awesome, accessible art (be it games, movies, music or even web sites), and want to be paid for it as well, without being hypocritical or a sellout. It's just the world we live in.
Last edited by Koobazaur; 10-09-2012 at 01:21 AM.
10-09-2012, 02:00 AM #6
Some people are in it for recognition only. But you can't eat recognition, dude. And I don't give a hoot who is a "true artist" in whatever narrow sense you have decided. Not every creator should have to suffer or starve, and I think it would be unfortunate if no one made enough money at their craft to be able to ditch the day job at McDonalds or wherever. Many of the greatest painters and sculptors in history had patrons that paid for their lifestyle and allowed them to focus on their craft.
Now programs such as Kickstarter are sort of bringing back the patronage idea that worked in former times. Say what you want but these have potential to mitigate the financial effects of piracy for creators.
OK, maybe if piracy only affected the weight of the pockets of suffering, miserable, exclusive, "true artists" then I wouldn't care a whit about it. But that group generally does not include the filmmakers, game developers, authors, comic artists, musicians and etc whose output I enjoy and hope will continue.
10-09-2012, 02:56 AM #7
I actually think conjuring the spectre of starvation is a wee bit dishonest, at least for those in the Western world. I imagine it's usually shorthand for 'artists need money too,' but starvation just isn't something that's reasonably likely to happen to us, no matter how poor or indebted we get. We're in a pretty lucky position to be able to me as much the 'true artist' (I don't like the term either) as we like, since in most cases the worst scenario we're going to face is that we'll have to get a day job that we hate and that will suck up all the time we could've used for making things. Which of course doesn't ring as urgently to those we're asking to pay us, many of whom work day jobs that they hate, but is still a pretty shit thing when it happens.
I should probably mention that I haven't made a living exclusively from soundtrack music since the recession first hit: I'm simply not good enough at self-promotion to pull it off anymore, and the price I have to charge in order to undercut the race-to-the-bottom music libraries has dropped so low that I'd be exhausted if it was my sole source of income. So I work the absolute bare minimum of part-time hours in order to keep me housed and fed, and the little soundtrack income I get is my spending money.
And just to finish shattering the illusion I created of being fairly sane when it comes to art and business, my current focus is unashamedly on my independent stuff, which is entirely unprofitable at the moment (save for a handful of Bandcamp sales). But I'm naively hopeful that this will change once the recognition kicks in. Which, you're right, is something you cannot eat - but it helps immeasurably in leading you to stuff that you can.
Yeah, that was another long anecdotal rant, but I wanted to show some support for Xercies position - I suppose it is naive, but I think it's being dismissed a bit too summarily, even attacked. Romantic bohemianism is a pretty viable life choice for a Westerner. You'll get frowned upon and labeled a bum, but that's going to happen even if your art gets massively famous and profitable.
10-09-2012, 04:08 AM #8
To use an example, Bruce Pennington painted a bunch of private works but he also did a ton of sci-fi and fantasy book cover art. Plenty of other artists called him a sell-out or a mere illustrator, but so what? The dude was eating bread and also painting his own private work. He understood that art that nobody likes except its creator shouldn't be rewarded with a handout. If you're going to contribute to society it has to be something society considers worthwhile. By all means do your own private work, but don't expect a reward for it if nobody else likes it.
10-09-2012, 05:11 AM #9
I should probably mention that I haven't made a living exclusively from soundtrack music since the recession first hit ....
Last edited by Koobazaur; 10-09-2012 at 05:17 AM.
10-09-2012, 11:57 AM #10
I do know its a romantic ideal and ill have to get a real job to fund my creativity but i cant help but feel that stunts my creativity somewhat i mean the last thing i want to do after some work is be creative especially with a girlfriend and stuff. Which leads me to be thinking that it might be all or nothing which is probably why some artists hate the fact there not getting paid for there work maybe.
10-09-2012, 01:20 PM #11
As I've told my compatriots in the music world when we found ourselves on opposite sides of the SOPA debate: Your problem isn't with piracy. Your problem is with capitalism. Your problem is that you need to make money to live, and that your preferred method for living isn't fiscally viable. Welcome to the human condition!
10-09-2012, 11:05 PM #12
But hey, even if you spend 50% of your day doing mundane work, you still have the other 50% to exercise as you see fit. Unless you have absolutely grueling over-time work, I think there isn't a need to have a completly unstunte creativity time in order to realize your potential. Einstein worked as postal clerk, yet still managed to bring out some of the most brilliant ideas of the past century.
Unless, of course, we can finally invent self-teaching, self-repairing and self-replicating robots to do all the menial tasks for us, and then it's off to leasiure-life of Wall-E :P
11-09-2012, 03:05 AM #13
The lowest-level plebwork does keep disappearing as time goes on, though it's always reported as a doom-and-gloom story. I don't really understand that. Especially with the layoffs of miners in particular - they'd been risking their health and their lives every single day, and now they don't need to anymore. Obviously their unemployment is a bad situation, but they don't run these stories when soldiers return from war and need to get jobs... but then I guess the media treats soldiers more ambivalently; they don't enjoy the instant unquestioning 'respect' given to the hapless prole (respect goes in quote marks because it absolutely is not respect).
I really like that Buckminster Fuller quote; I hadn't heard it. I'll try and remember it next time I talk to my Mum, who is absolutely mortified that my younger brother doesn't have a job. He lives with his fiancee, who does, and they are both very well-off in terms of money because of an inheritance on her side. I've explained how there is literally nothing for either of them to gain by his becoming employed - they have food and shelter, they don't have debts, and they have savings. Only an incredibly small and lucky minority of people in the world have all three, and it's the ideal that most are working towards. And they have it now! There is literally no gap other than time that would be filled by him finding a job, and to take a job when you have no need of it is a selfish thing to do. A job is fuel. Unfortunately, it's a fuel that's been ritualised and transformed into some sort of shortcut to human worth (hence the popularity of that awful loaded greeting: "busy day?")
I really need to get around to talking about videogames on this board at some point. I think I'm getting overexcited because I haven't used one in years, and the idea of actual discussion on the internet is suddenly novel. Facebook's kind of managed to both normalise and annihilate that concept.
11-09-2012, 07:53 AM #14
11-09-2012, 12:42 PM #15
I also don't like your math about 50%/50%. You're lucky if half your day is free. Assuming normal sleep habits and no overtime, work + commute is already more than half your day.
bulge at the bottom has been inching leftwards since the 60s. We keep losing technical, skilled jobs and replacing them with pink-collar service shit.
Not that fucking matters. Our global economy can hire about half a billion fewer people than there are people to hire, and four-fifths of the rest will get paid less than I spend on coffee daily. No matter how you cut it, so long as we remain on this economic model we will always stand on a mountain of the unemployed poor.
11-09-2012, 09:29 PM #16
11-09-2012, 10:35 PM #17
I think the concept of reward for personal enterprise is a sound one, but I do not believe that necessarily equates to a capitalist model. Buckminster Fuller was describing a technocratic answer. Franklin Roosevelt was seeking a Second New Deal as a form of extreme Keynesian principles right before he died. I have a fair idea of what I'd like the answer to be, but I just know that it's gonna suck for the majority of my lifetime as we get back to the point where we can begin working towards one, and that most of my energy will be spent doing pointless drudgery as a holding pattern until the spark that's needed has the political power to take root.