I once had coffee with a friend of a friend who was visiting Australia from Germany. He didn't know anyone in Australia and so I was meeting him as a favour to my friend. As we were strangers meeting for the first time, we were talking to each other about our interests and what we do. I told him about my music and my work as a composer. I had a CD of my music that I had recently produced. He asked me if he could have a copy of the CD. I told him it was $20. He told me that he felt strongly that art should be free and that people shouldn't have to pay for art. I don't remember anything else of the conversation. I got so angry that I couldn't compose myself. I apologised, told him he had offended me and then said that I had to leave. I never saw him again but I have never forgotten this encounter or the effect that it had on me. I often think about his statement that art should be free. Especially as I strongly feel the burden of how much my art costs me. Art is never free, it can not be. It costs the artist, not only in thousands of hours of time, it also costs them enormous amounts of money. Hundreds of thousands of dollars have been invested in my art. I have been learning music since I was 4. Two instruments. The instruments cost money, the lessons cost money, the transportation, the school fees, the university fees, the materials needed, computer, software, software upgrades, hardware upgrades, paper, online subscriptions, website costs, performer fees, venue fees, costs of advertising concerts, fees for recording, fees for producing and publicity. These are all just a few of the costs that went towards producing that one CD. Yes that CD that I said was $20, actually cost me, the artist, more than he could possibly imagine. So while some may feel strongly that art should be free. I feel strongly that this idea is not possible. As much as I would like to "break even" when it comes to my art and what I do, or even (God forbid) make money. It is attitudes like this, or just the failure to understand the big picture, that will continue to starve artists of their will to keep being artists. 

Incidentally, you can listen to the music from the aforementioned CD "for free" here.

Posted
AuthorKatherine Rawlings