The Daily Prosper
Is art well paid? The culture business in the world

Is art well paid? The culture business in the world

The cultural and creative industries generate millions of dollars in income and account for millions of jobs in the world. They are the driver of the digital economy, increase the attractiveness of cities and improve the quality of life of countries, according to UNESCO. In a context of transforming the consumption of culture, artists are forced to rethink their work and develop their online potential.

Since prehistory, art has accompanied human beings as a means to express their emotions and understand themselves and their environment. Why is it necessary in our lives, in any of its disciplines?

  • It is a universal language that shows us our history and allows us to travel to other countries and discover other worlds, to get into others’ skins.
  • Art can be political and call for critical reflection.
  • It can serve as an instrument for learning in schools.     
  • Even when it does not serve a practical purpose, it inspires and gives us pleasure.

But not only for this cultural assessment that a world without art, like the dystopian fabled by the writer Aldous Huxley in “Brave New World”, is something unimaginable outside the pages of literature. From the economic point of view:

  • Revenue from the cultural and creative industries -2.25 billion dollars a year- surpasses that of the telecommunications industry. It accounts for 3% of world GDP.
  • The cultural and creative industries generate 29.5 million jobs in the world, more than the automotive industry in Europe, Japan and the United States together. This means that 1% of the world's active population has a job related to culture, and especially in occupations related to the visual arts, music and books.
  • They are the locomotive of the digital economy. In 2013 alone, cultural industries contributed 200 billion dollars to total digital sales. In addition, creative content reinforces sales of digital devices.
  • Cultural production is young, inclusive and enterprising. In Europe, they employ more workers between the ages of 15 and 29 than any other sector. Often, it is small businesses and individuals that drive creation, which promotes more agile and innovative workers.
  • They act as a driver of the development of cities. A good example is Bilbao and what is known worldwide (and replicated) as the Guggenheim Effect, in reference to the economic revitalisation of the area as a result of the construction of the museum.

These are data collected by Unesco in the report “Cultural times, the first global map of cultural and creative industries”, the first assessment of culture from the economic perspective, which defends its role in the development of societies. “The cultural and creative industries contribute massively to the world economy and constitute a key factor for the digital economy. They are strategic goods for national and regional economies.”

The way forward to achieve “a more creative world” is to promote copyright (“adequate legal frameworks that protect creators and ensure fair remuneration”), improve online monetisation (“redress the current transfer of value in the digital economy, which benefits intermediaries”) and cultivate talent (“which is the raison d'être of the CCI. The creative community is a motor of innovation for more sustainable development”).

Transforming artists

Musicians, plastic artists, writers, actors ... are the basis of the culture business. Each sector has its features and various professional categories (various caches). A general picture of most creators shows that they must become more and more managers of their own image and work through social networks and online sales; they must be open to collaborating with other authors and diversifying their income.

Having a personal website through which to show and sell their work, a blog and remaining active in the social networks is essential. The Internet, as a counterpoint to its transformation of the consumption of culture, is a powerful tool to make oneself known and reach a wider audience, for instance, through Spotify, YouTube or Amazon. However, the remuneration that most receive is small.


Musicians on the test bed

If there is one sector that is considered the test bed of digital transformation it is music. The sale of digital music is eating away at the physical formats. In Spain, according to Promusicae, in 2017 payment subscriptions grew on streaming platforms to over a million and a half; however, very few artists receive significant payments through them.

Spotify, Apple iTunes and Pandora, the three main streaming services, pay artists $0.00397, $0.00783 and $0.00134 per reproduction, respectively. Live music is the main source of income that musicians have today; although previously artists toured to promote their records, now it is practically the other way around. The amount will depend on the cache, but by covenant the minimum charge per performance for a musician is 114.16 euros.


Writing in the Amazon era

In the publishing sector, 87,292 new titles were published in 2017, 7.3% more than the previous year; 31% were digital editions. “Although there has been a slowdown in the billing figures of digital books, Spanish publishers continue to favour this format,” they say from the Federation of Publishers Guilds of Spain.

Self-publishing has transformed the market; Amazon is a great showcase for authors, and has become a kind of quarry for publishers. For the author, the difference between publishing in a publishing house and self-publishing lies above all, in the distribution of percentages on the final price of sales, which range between 5% and 12% in a publishing house.


Artists between the gallery and self-promotion

The plastic artist in Spain basically has the gallery as a selling place. Other ways to make oneself known and to sell one’s work are the personal web, social networks and participation in contests and periods in art centres. In the Book of Art an d Patronage 2017, Clare McAndrew notes that most of the works sold in galleries in 2016 did not exceed 5,000 euros.

In “The Economic Activity of the Artists in Spain. Study and analysis”, by Marta Pérez Ibáñez and Isidro López-Aparicio (Fundación Antonio de Nebrija, 2016), the largest group of creators surveyed stated that the average price of works sold in galleries was between 100 and 500 euros. “Among those who can say that artistic activity is their main livelihood, we see that the average price of the works sold is between 1,000 and 5,000 euros,” the authors point out.

By Sara Puerto