During one of my coffees with a friend, I admitted I was thinking of going back to writing short stories rather than novels as the latter are time consuming and cost more to promote than what I earn in sales. My friend smiled sympathetically. Then she told me about a famous rock performer who, in an interview, was asked how he’d managed to earn a million dollars for a single song he’d composed. His reply, “I did it by spending two million dollars to promote it.”
I laughed at the story but the truth hurt like a pair of cracked ribs. I’m smart enough to know that few of us who devote ourselves to art ever deposit anything but loose change in our bank accounts. And sadly, the electronic age has made matters worse. As one musician complained, streaming sites have made it impossible to earn a decent wage. One of his pieces was played 7,8000 times. His remuneration was 7 cents. (The Week, 11/30/12 pg. 36) Selling e-books isn’t much better. By the time the middleman and the publisher take their share, the writer is lucky to afford a lollipop.
(Courtesy of www.mobiledjnews.co.uk)
Neither I nor any artist is complaining. We do what we do because we love it. The musician who spent two million dollars to earn a million dollars died broke but, I suspect, he held a guitar in his hands at the time and died happy. Still, I see a crisis looming on the horizon. Sometime in the future, love may not be enough.