Why Are Artists Poor?

Is the Internet good or bad news for high-end creative artists and cultural organizations?

It’s bad news, I argued in my 2007 book Cultof the Amateur, a polemic which suggested that the Internet is killing our culture and undermining the livelihood of cultural producers. No, it’s good news, counter the techno-optimists like Jeff Jarvis and Clay Shirky - who argue that the Internet offers creative artists and organizations an opportunity to escape from the sometimes unjust and inefficient control of industrial age mass-media.

Today, more than two years after the publication of Cult of the Amateur, as the destructive pace of technological change in the media business has dramatically increased, the debate about the impact of the Internet on high cultural artists and organizations has also become more urgent. Today, as the old mass media industries of television, newspapers, book publishing, recorded music and movies are being fundamentally restructured by the digital economy, it’s become clear that the early 21st century digital revolution is having as profound an impact upon culture as the mid 19th century industrial revolution...