Fake it til You Make it
Bringing creative projects to life is an expensive venture, sometimes with very little financial return. Whether it be for art, music, films, books, TV shows and even unique business pursuits, there’s a two-way risk involved. The first being that people will typically start by funding the dream themselves, and the second is knowing that there is no guarantee of success. Despite how cool the lifestyle these projects bring looks to others, the truth is – you don’t always reap what you sow. Occasionally, certain projects will have that glorious harvest (as seen with box office hits or albums that stay at number 1 for months). But, even if the lucky few do catch this life-changing break, there’s no guarantee it’ll last forever.
Can You Hear Me?
A lot of us saw the creative industry take a massive hit, during the pandemic – festivals were cancelled, our favourite shows went on hiatus. And, even though there was more time to digest any creative ideas that’d been brewing in the background of our minds, getting them heard presented a new challenge. Amidst these strange new times, many of us had found an outlet, such as arts and crafts, baking and cooking etc., and the internet was exceptionally useful in showcasing them all. Nevertheless, in a saturated digital world, surrounded by others who already had a headstart, certain talents were submerged. This meant that, once the world opened up again, those wonderful novelties drew the short straw compared to their corporate counterparts.
And this is what irks me about being a creative. It’s hard enough to bravely expose your crazy ideas and boldly go about making them a reality. But in this contemporary world, we don’t judge creativity by talent. We judge it by numbers.
At least, initially.
Think about it. More often than not, we make a decision to support a pursuit by looking at a follow count, how many stars something’s received in a review or how often it’s been thrust in our home feed. Due to the sheer volume of films, music and books out there, we’ve stopped making our own opinions. Instead, we support the biggest ones, because they look more refined and our apps repeatedly suggest that we would like them. We are a culture easily influenced by perceived popularity. Maybe because to choose what is “popular” is to choose what will make us more connected? In a society that’s more digitally connected than ever, it’s a strange irony at how paradoxically disconnected we are. So, I suppose it makes sense. But damn, I resent that these tech tycoons are deliberately exploiting our social needs by navigating us to 3rd rate TV shows and badly written novels, just to make more cash. Creativity used to be about originality. Now it’s judged by its functionality. And if a creative endeavour doesn’t yield results, it’s deemed a “failure”.
Without trying to be rude, isn’t “yielding a result” incredibly hard to do in a world full of creative flavour, in which money is what enables it to be tasted first? Algorithms and society don’t initially favour the bold or the talented, they favour the most way out, dramatic and fancy-looking projects. Most of which are fuelled by…££££££
The creative industry will always favour the ones who bring home the most bacon, but it’s also important to note that bacon isn’t always seen by the creator themselves. The streaming giant, Spotify, for example, only pays artists £0.0023-£0.0064 per play of their songs. In money lingo, that means the artist would need between 200-500 plays to make around £1. Pretty naff, right? The same goes with book royalties. Whilst saying, “30% of the royality goes to the creator” sounds like a good deal. When you realise that, that royalty equals £1 (leaving 30p to pop in the piggy bank) it sours things a bit. Let’s be honest, 30p per sale isn’t exactly much to write home about (ironically), especially after so much hard work has gone into bringing it to life. Not unless you become a million copy bestseller, anyway. Thus, the person’s projects may be notorious, but their bank balance is not necessarily reflective of that.
And when this happens, people give up their dream, find a job that pays the bills and live out the rest of their life feeling unfulfilled. That passion, whilst beautiful, remains underground or becomes a memory. It could have (and may have) brought joy to so many people’s lives. But it was all in vain.
Or, so they say.
To create, or not to create? That is the question…
Whether it earns big bucks or costs it, creating something is such a nurturing activity. As well as providing entertainment, it enables self-discovery and confidence, and can even initiate changes in society that provide alternative possibilities and solutions to problems. Pursuing a passion is a valuable source of happiness and stability. It brings people together. Money simply can’t buy what it does for the soul. Remember where this love first began. Its success should not be defined by how much it’s topped up your bank, it should be for the sheer fact that it was created.
With this fact in mind, I’d like to put forward these 2 take home messages
- To the creative – Don’t judge your creations by their financial return. In this modern world, it’s not the best indicator. Think of all the experiences you’ve had and the people you’ve met along the way. That in itself is a priceless gift. So if it’s what you love, keep doing what you do. The passion is in the pursuit itself.
- To the audience – Support the underdog! Forget the numbers and the auto-generated recommendations, and really think about what interests you. Go for the independent artists, the books with the cool blurb and the handmade items at your local market. The best treasures are buried, just waiting to be discovered and shared with those you love.