Digital object: Music Box

Musicians, hackers, and writers and assorted creatives love making stuff and they want to share it, but the internet makes everything free, or below the wages that anyone could possibly live on. These days you can use Spotify to listen to any song you want, for almost no money.

Creatives are struggling for ways to make a living. Here are some of the options:

  • Private sites with paywalls or subscription fees. (Journalism is moving in this direction. An example is Saturday Paper.)
  • Marketplaces where creators keep most of the money. (Bandcamp.com for musicians.)
  • Donations and ongoing patronage. Patreon.com is popular with artists, Substack.com with writers.
  • Giving it away for free  (much to the frustration of the middlemen who used to profit from them) through NoiseTrade (explained here by founder Derek Webb).

Here’s another way, one that counters everything-cheap-and-easy with intimacy, particularity, and much much less…

Musician Nicolas Jaar, owner of the record label Clown & Sunset, has developed The Prism, a tiny and beautiful device containing 12 otherwise unreleased songs. The device “restores physicality to the listening experience”, and certainly, restores value to the music it transmits. This approach emphasizes the preciousness of creativity and the honor of “owning” an edition of someone’s creativity.

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