A beautifully shot photo-essay in today's New York Times chronicles the careers of six Los Angeles artists whose livings would not exist, save for the Internet.
There's a sax player who teaches sax over Skype to students around the world; a composer who creates music for indie media and TV pilots; a potter who sells online; an animator; a person who hosts house-shows for indie bands...
The point is that there are as many distinctive ways to earn a living in the arts as there are artists. The Internet has created chances for audiences and creators to find one another with fewer intermediaries taking a piece of the action, and more kinds of art being made by more people for more specific audiences.
It's a good thing.
We pay attention to creative megastars because they are, well, mega. But they are also often the exception to the new rules of creative revenue, which have more to do with keeping up a diverse and constant hustle and finding an audience — and paying checks — in unexpected places. Here are six artists in the Los Angeles area who are cobbling together livelihoods that would have been impossible 15 years ago.
Robyn Schneider writes fiction for young adults. She is also on YouTube. ‘‘There’s a huge overlap there, obviously,’’ she says — referring to the fact that so many Y.A. writers, chief among them John Green, the author of ‘‘The Fault in Our Stars,’’ are building their fan bases on the video site. She has about 18,000 subscribers to her channel, which she started in part because of Green. ‘‘I’m like an echo of John,’’ Schneider says. ‘‘He forged the path.’’ Throughout graduate school, she says, ‘‘if I was bored for, like, two hours, I could make a video.’’ Those now make maybe $3,000 a year. For several summers, she also wrote books under a pen name and sold them — making the equivalent of a decent paid summer internship. Then she took her novels to market under her own name, and they sold for a lot of money (six figures). Though she had never been serious about the YouTube thing, she realized that her success was, in part, because of this audience. That’s how it works: You build a following, then monetize it.
Making It [Ryan Bradley/NYT]
(Image: Damon Casarez/NYT)