Art can’t be free

Art has become muddled when it comes to finances. Yes, art is important and should be widely available, but it simply cannot be free. People often justify illegally downloading music by saying it won’t hurt the already-wealthy artist. This mindset is not only wrong, but harmful.

In the case of the music industry, most of the time, the money received from album or song purchases does not go entirely to the artist. For big name artists, the profits of music sales are usually divided among many hardworking staff members, including sound engineers, marketing teams and even custodial staff. All of these people rely on the monetary success of music to maintain their careers. If an album flops financially, people can lose their jobs.

Emerging artists are also severely hurt by illegally downloaded music. These new musicians rely on music sales to continue their work. If, for example, a career guitarist doesn’t make money off of his or her music, he cannot afford new strings or new equipment to continue to make music.

According to Forbes magazine, Keith Kupferschmid, CEO of the Copyright Alliance, said, “Piracy arguably hurts independent creators who are struggling to make it – including photographers, film producers, musicians, and app developers – more than it harms established artists. Independent creators are striving to earn a livelihood and make a career. When they are pirated they lose essential income, they lose confidence, and the lost income prevents them from re-investing in their creative work.”

Visual artists – those who create graphic art, drawings and paintings – utilize free internet platforms to display their art in a way that’s less expensive than using conventional galleries. Unfortunately, due to the abilities of the internet, art can easily be taken off the internet without any form of compensation to the artists, and artists can’t create more art if they can’t afford supplies.

Many artists devote their entire lives to creating art to the best of their ability. Unfortunately, in our money-driven society, this means that a full-time artist who is not being paid is not making a reliable income. Some may argue that the artist should work a “real” job, but an artist who has to invest in a 40-hour-a-week job loses the time they have to create.

People want art, but no one wants to pay artists.

Money controls many things, and unfortunately, it controls art as well. As nice as it would be for artists to create art for free, capitalism just won’t allow it.

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