Another Sunday, another NYT Article

People might think I am actually an intellectual if I keep on quoting the New York Times!

This week (12/17/10) the New York Times had an article written by  Damon  Kulash, the lead singer and guitarisyt for OK GO, a Chicago rock band who have relocated to California. For those who have never heard of the, they make crazy videos for very little money, all of which seem to get massive amounts of hits on uTube (in the millions). They win awards for these videos, but their record company couldn’t figure out how to translate that fame into income large enough to satisfy their corporate greed. Here is what he has to say:

We once relied on investment and support from a major label. Now we make a comparable living raising money directly from fans and through licensing and sponsorship. Our bank accounts don’t rival Lady Gaga’s, but we’ve got more creative freedom than we did as small fish in her pond.

For a decade, analysts have been hyperventilating about the demise of the music industry. But music isn’t going away. We’re just moving out of the brief period—a flash in history’s pan—when an artist could expect to make a living selling records alone. Music is as old as humanity itself, and just as difficult to define. It’s an ephemeral, temporal and subjective experience.

Many bands these days are making a career out of touring, and giving their recorded music away. Recorded music has been devalued to the point that in many cases, it is, as retailers say, a “loss leader,” a product given away to get people in the store to buy other products.

So what does this have to do with photography? Recently I did some calculations based on a premise I decided on many years ago. The premise is this:

If someone can’t afford a minimum of $50.00 to license one of my images, they should look elsewhere.

So…….. Recently I received a sales report from the agency that represents me. They licensed a rather large number of images that month, and, while reading down the list, I saw many images licensed for a fee that gave me under $2.00 as my share! So I decided to do some math, and soon figured out that although I licensed a pretty amazing amount of images over the last year, and although my checks per months were pretty nice, the average license fee (my share) was $18.10 per image. YIKES!!

So, my conclusion is that photography has been devalued, just as recorded music has, to the point that is difficult if not impossible to make a living doing this. So the question is- is there another revenue stream that will allow a photographer to make a living, while practically giving away his or her work??? That is the question that I hope to answer in the coming year.

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