The collage clearinghouse sometimes has to go to other creative realms, such as music in order to understand and grow. I have a rather longwinded tale here, but it does have a point at the end!
The music industry has gone through some major changes in the past couple of years. No one but those with heads in the sand hasn't heard of the Napster phenom. Even more interesting is direction that high profile musicians as Madonna, Radiohead and now Nine Inch Nails have taken. After fulfilling their contracts with major record labels and realizing that change is in the wind, these musicians strike a new path as far as marketing is concerned.
According to wiki, "In October, 2007 Madonna announced her departure from record company Warner Bros. and a new $120 million, 10 year contract with pop concert promoters Live Nation. She will be the founding recording artist for the new music division, Artist Nation, and the deal will consist of albums, tours, merchandise and promotion." She got involved with a new company and is able to make decisions about what she does.
Radiohead released their double CD set In Rainbows as a digital download also in October of 2007 again after finishing up their contracts with recording companies. Users signed up and were given the choice of paying whatever they felt they wanted to. I downloaded CD #1 and then the second CD was sold in a set that was released a couple of months later in a 2 CD set. This revolutionary method of allowing and even encouraging music lovers to download their music has changed the climate of music marketing from here on and I am sure some record company execs don't sleep good. I don't know enough about it to be able to give exact details but Radiohead made a ton of money and are now in control of what they do and are known as trailblazers.
Along came NIN. These guys went over the top and really started putting some nails on the recording industry's coffin. (pardon the pun) They released their latest 4 CD set, Ghosts online, with Trent Reznor himself uploading the first CD of the set to Pirate's Bay. For under $40, this band sent their beautiful music out into the aether and encouraged all to listen. They used the known enemy of recording companies Pirate's Bay to do it. What a statement!
Just WHAT does this have to do with collage at all???
NIN released that last album under a CC license. Yea, that's right, Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 United States License. That means users can share the music, copy-distribute-display AND perform it. People are also free to remix. Go ahead make some derivative works. In return, users attribute the music to the NIN and agree not to use it for their own commercial purposes. That's only fair, since they were kind enough to give it out basically for free. You can also share this music, build upon it and create something entirely new, as long as you also give your work the same CC license. The stringent rights of a regular copyrighted song seem military in comparison! There's a whole lot of room for creativity built into this CC license, and that equals new paths, more ideas, more thinking, in essence, more creativity.
I wonder how this model would translate into the art world. I know these licenses are available to anyone. As I post my pictures on flickr, I have noticed that the default for copyright is for the normal © copyright rights and in the United States at least, as soon as you have created something it is under your copyright even without deliberate paperwork. Well honestly I don't like these regular rights. They are unclear and leave a lot of room for interpretation, loopholing and shady business. I really want to try to remember from now on to put my works under one of these new CC licenses. If you look on flickr you can see where you can change your images rights. There are several different types, to allow you to adjust the reuse rights as you see fit. It seems like such a better method. I really have to implement them asap.
Red Shepherd 2 1/4" x 2 1/4" — Nick Bantock
But what about the distribution of art? I have a 150 page collaged book that I have no idea how to release. I know that publishers would cringe at the thought of publishing my book, with literally thousands of images that would need to be assessed for copyright infringement. It would be so cumbersome it would prohibit publishing from happening, between the time and money that would be involved. I keep it at home and think about publishing it myself, but 150 page books are a major undertaking. I think about the NIN model. I scan in my book, create a beautiful online E-book, and weave it into the wide web....I also offer a super deluxe-o, animated illustrated hand made version for a nice sum of cash and make a limited number of them. And then I see what happens. It's all so scary for a newbie--giving away your own creative work. NIN, Radiohead, these guys are established names in certain households. They didn't need to find their fans, they already had them. I don't know if I would succeed in the same measure doing this with my artwork. I considered a more famous artist doing this. Most artists are selling art, not books, so maybe this comparison is already warped. But imagine Nick Bantock (a fairly famous collagist/author in recent times) offering a pdf book online. And then offering a finer edition for a cost. Would this work?
Is this model only for those who have already reached their fame? Is this model only for the music industry? Will this marketing model cross over to art? Is there a parallel between music and art marketing?