Pay For Art

We talk about voting with our wallets. If that's the case, we're Chik-fil-a-ing art. When you can't be bothered to cough up $9.99 for a record, or only visit the MCA on free Tuesdays, or pass on a play because you'd rather blow that money drinking, you might as well set fire to the voting booth. When you torrent an album, you don't steal from the record company. You steal from yourself. If their records don't sell, small bands get cut from their record label, get day jobs, and hang up their guitars. You cost yourself their sophomore album.

Something I helped make when I was
16 ended up in a museum.
Art becomes good slowly. It is a samurai sword slowly honed over fire and time. Every day a painter spends making your shitty latte deprives you of a painting, poem, or song. And while artists might not write symphonies every time they get a day off, I believe that free time is art's most precious ingredient.

It's easy to complain about bad art. I've seen hundreds of garage bands, bad plays, awful improv, and dumped thousands of dollars on weak records. Believe me, a lot of it sucked. In a fully unironic and robust way, it sucked. Pull my hair out and bury my head in my hands, sucked. I really can't emphasize the magnitude of how bad some of it sucked. It sucked a lot. Am I a sucker to keep coming back?

I like to think that money goes to second chances, betting on potential and investing in promise. The Beatles played twelve hundred shows in Hamburg strip clubs before they got big. By most accounts they weren't very good until they left the Red Light District.

If we don't pay artists and offer them twelve hundred paid chances to prove themselves, we'll never have another Beatles. Even after you've picked up a dozen records from a band and they still disappoint you with bland, uninspired songs, throw your credit card on the counter and do it again. Art isn't an exact science. We may go broke betting on the next generation of scribblers, knob-twiddlers, and up-their-own-ass pretentious douche bags. But I believe in the process. Give them another ten years. And even if they still disappoint you, it will still be worth it.

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