Okay just relax, into your chair. Take a moment to just notice the sensation of sitting, the contact points between you and the chair. Now breath in through your nose for 4 seconds, now hold it for 2, now breath out for a four count. Repeat this a couple of times.
This has completely destroyed my ability to write. Okay, okay, okay picture yourself sitting in your TV room. Yo tv is connected to a hard drive and you are about to watch a high quality download of Game of Thrones latest episode.
As the somewhat uninspiring open credits roll, your phone rings. You don't recognize the number but for some compulsive reason you answer, you are now talking to me as I ask you to complete a survey.
Notice your annoyance threatening to blossom into a flower of rage as you are solicited to at best forestall your enjoyment of entertaining program. Your offence that some way some how a market research firm has contacted your personal and private mobile phone.
You don't know it, but I don't really give a shit whether you do the survey or not. I have no idea who I'm calling and there's no intention to disrupt anyone from doing any particular activity, just a hope to connect with somebody who literally has nothing better to do.
It's a numbers game.
But this is your phone and it is personal and I am imposing, these are all facts on the ground. You tell me to fuck off, or worse ask me to call somebody else and then hang up.
Now it is your time, your time to watch relaxing, stimulating, anxiety sustaining entertainment.
Notice you are being entertained by your favorite show, and not paying for this entertainment. Yet the show is of high quality*, a great number of people are involved in the process of creating it. Most of them will have worked quite hard and gone through very rough periods to reach the opportunity just to make this piece of entertainment you now have at your disposal to watch, free of charge.
People have taken massive risks to make this show, to be able to make this show. There is a whole graveyard of aspiring creators behind them packed with those who took the same risks and didn't make it.
And you won't pay for the fruits of their labors. You won't pay for something you possibly love.
Notice your mind racing with justifications for your unwillingness to pay. Just notice it, making it right that you don't pay for content. Notice how reflexive it is, and how insistent. Notice how invested you are in your belief that you are a good and moral person.
Just notice it.
All entertainment is communication. And all communication is information. Information can be replicated, digitized, duplicated at minimal cost.
In marketing there are desirable luxury goods we like to buy (like tropical holidays) and necessity goods we have to buy (like a new lawnmower), the stuff we try hardest not to pay for, turns out not to be the shit we are forced to buy, but the shit we cannot get enough of.
And virtually all art and entertainment falls into that category, our insatiable desire for entertainment leads to a need for the cost to be as low as possible. While the quality of heroin may end lives, the price of heroin ruins them first.
Art unfortunately is nowhere near as inelastic as heroin.
In a world where people feel right and justified to get their entertainment for free, they will not pay artists to create art.
Who then will pay the artists? Keep them alive long enough to create the entertainment you need to scratch your itch?
There's no free lunch. And artists I might add, steal from themselves, and given they have more time to consume entertainment in general they are probably the guiltiest group of art thieves.
But you pay for art in taxes, that produce government grants that I feel are killing art faster than would happen if the government redacted their patronage altogether.
You pay for it with lunch, or your coffee, or your beer. Yes beer, much art really exists to facilitate the sale of alcohol. But you do it by paying the casual wages of the jobs artists have to work to sustain the time and space necessary to create art.
There's a lot of friction in that system, artists could make more and better art if they were just paid directly to be artists.
And they are paid by people completing surveys of course.
Here give yourself a pat on the back, you have been consistent in your refusal to pay the artists that create the content you like. The full spectrum from George RR Martin at the top, to the aspirant like me down the bottom.
You don't pay for art, because you love it so much. It's priceless to you.
(I do realise that if you are reading this, you are probably my friend, and ironically being my friend am most likely to actually own a piece of my art you have paid for, and then paid more to be framed. Still the problem of 'free content' is yet to find its solution, better and more dedicated minds than I have looked at the problem and it remains unsolved, for now. Still I hope it provokes some thoughts for you anyway).