Pixel Envy

Written by Nick Heer.

Rich People Want You to Work For Free

Ted Gioia, the Daily Beast:

I am even more troubled by the NFL’s audacity in booking its Super Bowl entertainment. This mega-billion-dollar business with an antitrust exemption has long demanded artists perform for free at the half-time show, but now it allegedly wants entertainers to make a financial contribution for the exposure—perhaps even give a share of their post-Super Bowl tour income to the sports league.

Hey, bands, can you help NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell out? He only made $74 million during the last two years.

It is almost exclusively the “creative” professions from which others demand free products and services, and I struggle to think of why. It’s true that many STEM-type professions are crucial to the raw fabric of life: they produce our energy, our infrastructure, and our communications. So, in that regard, art is an indulgence. Why, then, are the stars of the art world producing extroardinarily valuable collectibles, while so many others fit the stereotypical “starving artist” profile? Why is art consistently undervalued, and its creators deemed capable of giving away their knowledge and craft?

A little while ago, I was speaking to someone who argued that my city’s public art budget should be entirely eliminated because “plenty of artists will work for free”. Apparently, “exposure” is payment enough. I would have found this extroardinarily offensive even if I didn’t go to art college, have a bunch of friends in the arts, and was working on a couple of new works myself. But this seems to be a commonly-held belief, and I struggle to think of why or how.

Update: Chris Clark makes a good point:

Power asymmetry. Business sharks are confident & manipulative, creatives are self-conscious. Get duped.

If I was artistically talentless I’d probably believe that art therefore has no inherent value and exploit artists too

*If I was also a total asshole who believed that other people are there to be exploited, that is.