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How Artists Can Get Paid in The Digital Age

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In this tech-age, most of the traditional industries have been changed overwhelmingly. The traditional art industry is undoubtedly one of its “prey” as well. Before 2007, artists earn their bucks just by selling record albums. But with the emerging Internet video sites, many unconventional artists are getting more rewards than the traditional artists by posting videos online. This has made artists felt that they need to boost their popularity almost instantaneously so their income would able to support their livelihood. In my perspective, artists should be omnipotent enough to keep up with the trend and not just focusing on their own talent only.

Before I elaborate on my points, there are some cons about the modernized method. By selling the artwork through the internet such as Spotify, Youtube, Tidal or Facebook, the artist may face some copyright and monetization issue. In the old-school way, fans are required to purchase a record or attend concerts in order to enjoy the artist’s performance. Nowadays, music piracy is a hot potato for the music industry and according to YouGov’s Music Report, one in ten people in the UK use illegal downloads. Such apps allow users to “grab” music from streaming services like YouTube and Spotify and store the file on their phone or computer, which prevents artists and record labels getting revenue from future streams. This presents a significant challenge for the music and movie industry.

First and foremost, fluctuation in business models affects the artist income. In this series of events, the artists who act by the traditional way were treated unfairly and struggled for a living. This was not about the artists’ skill nor their hard work, but due to their inability to cope with the new business models. For example, most new artists only receive 10% royalty percentage for each album sold. As a result, some artists have begun to undergo changes, they try to upload their own works on video sites and music download sites to get paid. The rapid development of the modern business model will produce incoherent marketing. In 2013, the income of artists in Internet video was changed from download revenue to streaming media revenue. Although they have a large number of fans, they only have $166 in advertising revenue after every 1 million views. Besides that, artists were able to benefit from the upgrowing media chain by direct support from their fans. A good example is through a website called Patreon.

Patreon is a membership platform that provides business tool for the creators to run a subscription content service as well as ways for artists to build relationships and provide exclusive experiences to their subscribers. Fans can support their favourite creators such as musicians, writers or videographers by donating via Patreon in order to push them forward and create more artworks. It is like fundraising, but for salary rather than a huge project. When the artist creates a Patreon page, only the one who paid can access the exclusive content. By using this platform, the artist can directly benefit from their artwork rather via an agent and only receive parts of the profits. However, this promotes most of the artists to create their artwork based on the taste of the audience instead of their inspiration.

In a nutshell, in this ever-changing era, we must be very versatile in adapting changes that are rushing towards us in the form of “tsunamis” so that we could turn the tables around and not facing detrimental effects. Any form of wise adaptation should be carried out depending on each situation for the greatest benefit of the artist.

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How Artists Can Get Paid in the Digital Age. (2020, May 19). GradesFixer. Retrieved May 18, 2022, from
“How Artists Can Get Paid in the Digital Age.” GradesFixer, 19 May 2020,
How Artists Can Get Paid in the Digital Age. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 18 May 2022].
How Artists Can Get Paid in the Digital Age [Internet]. GradesFixer. 2020 May 19 [cited 2022 May 18]. Available from:
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