Artists contribute a lot in today’s society with their creative work; however, statistics show they are not compensated enough. According to a recent study by Artnet, over three-quarters of artists in the U.S make less than $10,000 from their art while half barely hit $5,000 annually. Given the ‘emphasis’ that market stakeholders claim to have placed in the creative industry, the trend is quite worrying.
Notably, this growing sector features all sorts of creatives, including writers, designers, musicians, and painters. All these artist categories struggle to make ends meet, with only a few markets appreciating the creative work into artistic pieces. Even worse, society continues to view art as a hobby, leaving artists at the mercy of donations or other sources of income.
As a result of this bias, artists usually are forced to work multiple jobs. For most, art is just another source of income, probably done during their free time. While they may manage to score a few pennies here and there, the current compensation structure does not allow artists to take up art as a prospective career niche.
The Underlying Challenge
So, what are the challenges hindering fair compensation in the creative industry? The simple answer is that many factors contribute to this situation. Surprisingly, some lame narratives like the ‘myth of the starving artist’ have long been used to argue for the meagre compensations.
This myth resonates that a starving artist produces more creative content compared to one who receives fair compensation. In as much as there may be some truth, the current global economic conditions only favour those who are adequately compensated. How can the artists keep up in such an environment?
Besides earning peanuts, artists have become more exposed to malicious players who steal their creative work. Currently, there are many ongoing court cases where artists claim that a particular individual or entity has stolen their original work. The situation is worse in jurisdictions that have weak copyright laws, leaving artists with no legal remedies.
Another problem that artists face is passing down their work to future generations. Some of the world’s most expensive art pieces are currently in the wrong hands, while the artist’s descendants get no royalties whatsoever. This is a significant challenge, given that most artists cannot guarantee their work will land in the right hands once they are gone.
Last but not least, it is hard to monetize artistic work through international markets. The current systems feature local markets or organized art biddings which only a few people attend. This makes it hard for artists to realize the full value of their work as the demand is limited within a specific jurisdiction.
Can Blockchain Change the Life of Artists?
The emergence of modern-day technologies like blockchain, AI and IoT has improved several industries, including the creative niche. Blockchain, in particular, might change the narrative for artists through its capabilities of recording data on-chain. In essence, this technology allows users to store and verify data on public distributed ledgers.
Recent years have seen innovators in the blockchain industry shift focus to Non-fungible Tokens (NFTs). This emerging space features indistinguishable tokens that can be used to represent artwork in blockchain environments.
So far, NFT innovators have launched a couple of projects on Ethereum and other blockchain networks. We have also seen record NFT sales by digital artists, with Mike Winkelmann, alias Beeple selling his NFT art digital collage for $69 million at a Christie’s auction in March 2021.
With so much happening in NFTs, some projects have come up to assist in creating and auctioning NFTs. One of them is ENVOY, an NFT-focused project designed to build a community-driven ecosystem that taps into the potential of artists.
ENVOY leverages its resources and industry connections to build NFTs from the ground up while creating an avenue to generate income from sales and royalties. Artists from various industries ranging from music, movies and gaming can collaborate with ENVOY to represent their work on blockchain.
This project features an incentive program that allows participants to leverage its utility token $ENVOY to access extra functionalities such as airdrops, governance voting and exclusive access. In addition, artists can sell their work across international markets.
NFTs Are the Future of Art
As we move to the digital era, NFTs might facilitate the paradigm shift to storing art in digital environments such as blockchain. In doing so, these tokens will help artists increase their income by accessing international markets with ease, not to mention the staking and lending opportunities in Decentralized Finance (DeFi).
In addition, NFTs are a better way to keep track of original art pieces. Once a particular piece of artwork is recorded on-chain, no one can alter the original records, which means ownership only changes when sold. This presents an efficient way to pass art down generations while being able to prove its authenticity.
Interestingly, the NFT hype has caught up with prominent billionaires like Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban, who believes that they could transform the future for artists. The billionaire previously told crypto news site The Block that,
“The most powerful energy in the world is when multiple people come together for a like-minded idea. It’s very easy to be on that same frequency, and we’re seeing the magnetism to it right now … Artists want to know how they can get in on some of that positivity.”
With the invention of new technologies, artists no longer have to limit themselves within local ecosystems. Blockchain and other innovations are emerging avenues for artists to increase their income and protect the authenticity of their work. As more people embrace the digital world, odds will eventually favour the creative industry. However, this will require a collective effort by all stakeholders involved, including artists and innovators in the technology industry.