The artists’ dilemma


To become or never to start

To consider commercialising art

To have a presence, a business plan

To work to deadlines, a creative span

To produce to order in multiples of ten

To limit an edition for a premium of yen

The music, design, craft and installation

The photograph, film, plan and collection

The novel, sculpture, painting and rap

The fashion, concerto, print and map

The song, play, performance and comedy

The dance, poem, story now parody

All promoted online with graphics and dots

All with fifty word descriptions and a few still shots

All have the walk through showing threesixty degrees

All in a virtual space dressed up for the needs

All with the gallery owner who shares all the sales

All for recycling a package of tried and tested tales

All to interest the buyers, bait them with a promise

All to do with investment, return to silence doubting Thomas

What is the alternative?

Why is it so competitive?

Where should I look to grow?

Who’s the person in the know?

How will I survive?

Will the press release help me stay alive?

For many centuries a patron was the key

For the artist they were a necessity

Forward looking cultural supporters

Fortunes spent on creative courtiers

Formal works to mark an occasion

For a better life not tax evasion

Now the patrons are hiding away

Now the choice is too difficult to play

Now the artist is an enterprise

Now a company is the disguise

Now all educated with a degree

Now with the skills for everyone to see

The web

The pins

The blog

The shop

The merch

The videos

The photos

All cropped

The social connections

The online directions

Converge on a landing page

Two clicks away from a sale is a maximum

Set up for websites that give of the optimum

It’s starting to sound like a load of old patter

But written with passion and a sense that it matters

Many the offers pop up to take the strain

But with expensive monthly fees that will just drain

Any cash for the artist that could be invested

In time and space for new ideas suggested

Be wary out there as a buyer or seller

Your newest connection could be a cave dweller

Solitary life with the time to think

Something we all need before we sink

In the corporate money chasing scheme

We sense we’re free but it’s all just a dream

Get back to it now, must create to order

And don’t forget to set the video recorder

© Peter R. Birkby 2015

The collection of poetry Travels of a peripatetic percussionist will be available soon.


About derangeddrums

Composer, percussionist, musical director, teacher and educator. My music has been written for audiences in palaces and in the street. Music is my vocation and my passion and I hope you enjoy it too.
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1 Response to The artists’ dilemma

  1. Peter, I read your poem, Got it in one. I have been deterred all my life by these things. In particular, I wanted to make arrangements for bands and record my performances of much loved tunes… But never did one in 30 years because of the fear of being sued for copyright infringement. The copyright owners are not interested in one offs and told me that unless I was a big company they were not interested in giving permissions at any price. I have looked on the net for my favourite jazz rock groups and it is full of pending court proceedings against nearly every note they ever played. I can not handle that kind of threat so my music performances remain live only, my arrangements are only played by me and my musical equipment inventions and designs are used in prototypes by myself only. The cost of marketing a product is now prohibitive so it does not happen. What a waste of talent and ability that could have been of use to everyone !
    Saludos, Richard Mackfall

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