DJ Spooky: In your twenty-plus years as an entertainment attorney, you have been recognized as a champion of independent artists and innovative films and music. Berkeley’s Journal of Entertainment and Sports recently published your entertainment business manifesto forecasting a new Renaissance time for artists and content creators. Why is this a breakthrough time for creative individuals?
Steven C. Beer: There has never been a better time to be an artist, content creator, or working professional within the creative arena. For the first time ever, artists are no longer solely dependent on the support of established media companies to survive. The role of the major record label, movie studio, and major publishing house as the arbiter of taste and commercial gatekeeper is now vastly diminished. Artists today can tap into an array of alternative do-it-yourself options to create, distribute, and market their work to underserved and appreciative audiences.
DJ Spooky: What are some of the factors contributing to this new creative paradigm?
Steven C. Beer: Digital technology is the greatest factor fueling change. It has reduced the costs to create and market content. Digital technology has also replaced middle man institutions as the bridge between artist and audience. Through social media, such as Facebook and Twitter, artists today can forge a direct relationship with an audience and motivate fans to support their work. Another major factor is the emergence of new business approaches, like crowd funding, which allow for artists to raise money through sponsorship networks comprising of friends, family, and fans. With websites like Kickstarter and Indiegogo, artists are using crowd funding to achieve their unique goals without the necessity of divesting ownership or control to investors.
DJ Spooky: What’s at stake for fans? What can audiences and content appreciators look forward to in this new creative marketplace?
Steven C. Beer: Audiences can expect to experience progressive and boldly original works. With traditional gatekeepers playing a less prominent role, content appreciators will have greater access to innovative materials pouring through the creative floodgates. In the Renaissance paradigm, the dialogue between the artist and his or her fans is immediate and without filters. This encourages new visions and breakthrough concepts. The content that is most likely to gain viral awareness will be genre-breaking and provocative.
DJ Spooky: What practical suggestions can you give aspiring artists as they approach the new Renaissance paradigm?
Steven C. Beer: I would encourage artists to define “success” on their own terms. They need to avoid traditional achievement benchmarks that were created by established gatekeepers and stakeholders. Whether you win a Pulitzer Prize or a Grammy Award—these are essentially arbitrary and sometimes antiquated benchmarks of success. I would also encourage artists to forge meaningful partnerships with their fans through social media. A direct and robust relationship builds loyalty and includes fans in your activities. They will purchase content, support tours and exhibitions, and help finance the creation of new material.
Steven C. Beer is of counsel to Franklin, Weinrib, Rudell and Vasallo. U.S. News – Best Lawyers Best Law Firms in “Entertainment Law – Motion Pictures & Television” 2012 Edition.
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