Between two walls

Creatives often find themselves in between walls. On one side, a concrete behemoth towers over them, imposing its economic and profit-maximising demands - a necessity in today's industrial world. Large organisations, intimidating gatekeepers and mountains of paperwork make up these immense structures, often seemingly too big to work with, too big to overcome. On the other side - a friendlier yet nonetheless tall wall of creative work that the artist has set out to create, now and in the future.

The artist, feeling small in comparison, looks up between these two walls and often feels lost. Trapped by corporate gigs to pay the bills at the expense of pursuing creative work that truly inspires, the artist finds themselves in what seems like self-induced imprisonment, making it hard to move forward. Locked in a perpetual cycle with little to no time for exploration and experimentation, the artists need more room to think and create.

Transactional reality

Today's hyper-financialised creative industries are a symptom of a more systemic issue: the limits of transactional, linear cultural production model catching artists in the corporate machinery. Years of industrialisation have rendered the creative industries fragmented, with high financial risk and low control over the processes. The artist is perceived as the product. The growth pressure to continuously deliver, often the same piece of work repeatedly, dries up the motivation to explore and produce something higher up on that wall the artists created for themselves. Time and space become constrained, and the artist needs more energy to develop meaningful work. The process becomes tedious, loses meaning and gets lost in the masses.

Have we taken for granted this one-sided transactional relationship that ends on a purchase or point of sale? Has it become a standard model for cultural development? Aren't we limiting ourselves? Has it distorted our senses of how to grow space for art, artists and communities to evolve?

The demand and supply of creative work today unfairly favour those who can release the work - the labels and distribution companies. The cost to develop a work of art is very high for an individual artist. Producing a piece of work in the current economy means paying for the production, promotion, and distribution. To afford this, often more work, more menial gigs and shifts are taken up to make the album.

Current norms of what it means to monetise work often result in burnout, surface-level and ephemeral production. - Yancey Strickler, Metalabel on podcast

Pervasive linearity

Even if artists manage to catch a break, fund their work and release, the barriers to entry are high. The industry is safeguarded by gatekeepers who accumulate wealth themselves, rarely giving back a fair share to the artists. The oversaturated market demands that artists compete at unprecedented levels. A linear relationship means little stake in the decision-making process. Then the artists, after all the effort to break free from the linear cycle, find it challenging to maintain the level of admin, bureaucracy and attention necessary to compete in today's creative economies. The artist becomes the product and perishable at that, squeezed further and diminished, constrained in space and time. They are left staring at the sky between two towering superstructures.

Grass is greener

Tools to breakdown walls

Today, thanks to distributed ledger technology, such as Ethereum, there are increasingly more tools that open up space and time for experimentation, creation and a more level playing field in the creative industries. In Web3, every touchpoint becomes an opportunity for learning and participation. Web3 challenges the notion that value is solely created at the point of sale or purchase. Instead, value is recognised in the development process itself. With the tools available, artists can increasingly release and broadcast their work collaboratively, fostering dynamic and interconnected realms of creation. By moving away from purely transactional relationships, artists can create more meaningful connections and reimagine the role of commerce in the creative industry.

Web3 presents a transformative opportunity for artists to break free and thrive. The creative landscape can be revitalised by embracing collaboration, participatory approaches, and distributed technologies. The shift from individual struggle to collective empowerment allows for cultivating dynamic plains of creation, experimentation and existence. Artists can reclaim their place in the creative ecosystem and build a future where creativity is no longer trapped between two walls.

Connect with me on Lens @futurka.lens and Twitter @cattfutur to share your thoughts as we make visible the translucent fabric that organises cultural life.

LFG! 🌿