It’s true, give someone a hammer and they can smash the shit out of some nails but that won’t make them Karen Carpenter will it…?
I’ve just been blown away by watching the film ‘Press-Pause-Play’ by David Dworsky and Victor Kohler. It’s about the last 10 years of creative manifestation within the digital revolution, the looseness, mediocrity and the democracy it carries with it and how it filters into the mainstream both positively and negatively. It interviews people with a huge contrast in opinion from Sean Parker to Andrew Keen, Olafur Arnolds to Seth Godin and a whole bunch of influential creative’s from film and music, arts and digital media. Even one of my personal favourites Scott Belsky (author of Making Ideas Happen) makes an appearance.
It’s really got me thinking about the blistering noise we now have to compete with by being a digital creator of any kind. I remember a while ago people saying how easy it is to produce something yourself if all you have is a computer to sit at. You can make your own records on your laptop etc. It’s easy to control the world from your bedroom.
It’s true, give someone a hammer and they can smash the shit out of some nails but that won’t make them Karen Carpenter will it…? Maybe that’s the wrong analogy, or not?!
Humans are wired to create and now more than ever, everyone is doing it. The point of saturation as already peaked in my eyes. The ‘anyone can’ attitude has shifted to ‘everyone already has’, we’re now on a low level hum of mediocrity. But in a good way. I’m really excited about this. We now have to be special to cut through that ocean of talent. I love that talent is being pushed to extreme levels of competence. As with anything the crest of wave goes both ways, the last few years have been the calm before the storm and we are about ride a stupidly good wave of insane innovation across most creative genres. David Weinberg points out ‘technology comes first then the artist’. Technology has been cheap and accessible for some time now, all the while people have been abusing it. The abusers are now reaching mastery and some serious Jimmy Hendrix shiz is about to go down.
It used to be that only the elite had the information or the products to sell. It’s a pretty punk rock thing that ‘we the people’ have taken back. As a result, the information isn’t sat in a box on a shelf anymore, which means making money from our art is a bit more complicated. Or just different as Seth Godin would put it. He says in the film that his book ‘Unleashing The Idea Virus’ sold more than any of his other books at the time, even though he’d given 5 million of them away for free. So somewhere money is to be had and I’d point to providing value for your audience as one of its hiding locations. Radiohead also showed similar proof with their ‘In Rainbows’ campaign of 2008. Let the audience have a digital copy for free then let people opt in to buying a physical copy. Guess what -people do.
The pledge and crowd funding campaigns are also awesome examples of different working models. As voiced in the film, some may see this as treading murky waters. Where’s the line between the artist and the audience? Does it count as culture if there is no line anymore? Art is by definition for an elite individual that gets it and not for a majority that struggles to fathom it. But for me the cream will always rise to the top especially if you combine it with a social connection.
One thing, the film only briefly touched on the audience connection; it was almost slapped on at the end. To me that’s the grease for the squeaky wheel and the puncture repair kit too. It’s the difference between someones success or not. I don’t particularly agree with the idea that it can all be done – you and you alone. Not in this vast digital soup. You need people and at least a 1000 of them to get the ball rolling. The only way is by reaching out and actively working on that social dynamic. It’s proof with how well the live music scene is doing instead of recorded music. People demand the human element.
I love Seth Godins finishing statement ‘throughout the ages people have always looked to previous revolutions and wished they were a part of that’ It was the same with industrial revolution and can be said for the start of the information age that we are in. With the social awkwardness of most creative people today I’d echo the sentiment ‘there has never been a better time than now’ so go out there and be as social as possible, if anything that will build the bridge to your creative success.
Watch for free here.