Monday, March 8, 2010

Creative Control

Media, money, and marketing: the three M's of any artistic/creative endeavor, which have a naturally close relationship and therefore require the close attention of the key creator(s) or artists. Media is the thing itself; the "souvenir" or the channel through which the content is transfered to the consumer. For most artists, the chosen medium is important to the specific content (i.e.: a cookie is the ideal medium for a fortune). Whatever medium is chosen, some amount of money will be needed to give it life, and once alive, marketing is needed to recoup funds at a profit—if for no other reason than to personally fund another project.

Money is the lifeblood of a project, and is necessary to even begin the process. It can be in the form of cash, as from an investment by financial backers or from the profits of a previous success. It can also be physical assets (like props or equipment), which might be given or loaned to the artist by friends or interested third-parties, or might be given or loaned to the specific project by the artist from his private resources.

Marketing is a subset of information, ideally related in character (if not in form) to the artistic content of the media. The act of including information about a product or service that is already saleable, and which is valuable to the media consumer can provide faster revenue for the artist, which ought to be of interest to financial backers. The earlier such marketing can be effectively implemented by the artist or close associate, the less the artist's media will be dependent upon third-party financial concerns and the biases they might bring to the form of the art.

The more directly an artist controls these three parts, the more freedom the artist has. The more removed the artist is from the money and the marketing, the more he is controlled by those who provide them. If it is true to say that money (cash or assets) is the lifeblood of a creative media project, then it is true to say that a media artist cannot complete his project without it. If marketing is the act of transferring information to those who find it valuable, then it presents an opportunity for a media artist to build revenue. Therefore, the degree to which the artist controls and operates the marketing which is paired with his media, is the degree to which he both maintains the integrity of his art and promotes third-party products and services which possess the same integrity.

To maintain creative control, the artist must have a hand in supplying his own funding and marketing his own product. There is a relational buffer area (as I see it) between these three parts of a total media business. Any one of these three can be in the leadership role. The determining factor is not the control of the other two, but the control of the rites of passage, as it were. The artist is creating something of value, that is a priority. He is offering a sound investment opportunity to prospective backers, and a high-class market block to prospective sponsors.

If the artist is to lead and maintain creative control, he has to lead and maintain creative control. That wasn't a misprint, but a call to action. The artist must know and trust those he is in business with, and the closer they are in friendship, the more cohesive their individual roles will be. Essentially, artist must decide—and commit to the decision—to accept only that help from others which is in tune with his personal ethics, and to hold the line on those ethics—independent of the loss of partners due to ethical differences.

You're only selling out, if you're losing creative control.

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