In the CinemaTech blog, Scott Kirsner asks just how much of their work artists should give away for free:
The question I’ve been hearing at the last few conferences and film festivals I’ve been to is this: “Yes, free is important. But how much should I give away for free?” What people would like to know is, at what point do all those freebies help someone decide that, no, they’re actually not all that interested in your film… or, are you giving away too few free samples, thereby under-marketing your project? If you gave away less for free, would you make more money? If you gave away more for free, would you reach more people?
The post focuses on filmmakers, but these days artists in almost all disciplines face some variation on the question. As a singer-songwriter, how many of your songs should you post on your website? And do you stream or offer a download? As a literary artist (prose, poetry, dramatic writing), do you post excerpts or even short works free, gratis, and for nothin’? What about your whole body of work, a la Charles Mee?
The above image depicts a happy discoverer of a painting by Bren Bataclan. Bren (who guest blogged for us here) gives away his paintings to strangers, either with the request of a smile or just as a gesture of goodwill Now, without suggesting that giving away your work outright is the right path for most artists, it is interesting to note that Bren’s benevolent project has led to a published book, a recent show at the Boston Children’s Museum, and a feature on CBS evening news. So, free is not without its rewards.
But where to draw the line?
Image: Ann from the Smile Chicago Project by Bren Bataclan (2008)