Adam Chapman

Set List, Debt List – Holes In Creative’s Pockets

There’s that tired old cliche of the struggling actor waiting tables whilst also waiting for his big break. The tried and tested formula that’s been around ever since one man stood up in front of a crowd and said: “Look at me do this”.

Now to many, creative ventures are seen as tireless pursuits hammering away at a wall without even making the slightest dent. Indeed with the rise of ‘DIY’ media platforms as YouTube and Spotify it’s become easier than ever to create and display your creative output. The problem is, however, the saturation of each market. YouTube is estimated to add around 300 hours of new videos every minute! Even if everyone in the world was using YouTube at the exact same moment it’d be near on impossible for each creator to get a slice of that delicious add revenue pie.

Music streaming services such as Apple Music & Spotify are slowly becoming the more conventional way to access music. Anyone with a smartphone can have instant access to the latest range of new albums for the price of a single CD per month.

This is fantastic for the listener, all this music, for what seems like a bargain price. This is also great if you’re a creative but only if your name is Katy Perry or Ed Sheeran as they get millions upon millions of streams every month. This, in turn, leads to their Spotify profiles getting promoted more and more as it keeps people using their app thus making Spotify a healthy lump of money.

The same can be said for YouTube. It was reported in the Washinton Post that not only have the average numbers of views per video taken a drastic downturn but the top 3% of channels were now responsible for a staggering 90% of views. Doesn’t that just seem like an impossible market to crack? YouTube is also making it harder to even start earning the smallest amount of money. The recent update to their terms of services means channels now have to have over 1000 subscribers and 4000 hours of watch time in the past 12 months and even then it’s pennies. Furthermore, YouTube’s demonetisation epidemic (also known as the ‘Adpocalypse’) has been hitting mid-level users where it hurts most. This ultimately decreases the chances of being able to earn a living off the platform.

As anyone who will know who is desperate to make a living out of their creative talent will know there’s a hell of a lot of upfront costs before you can even imagine about making a single penny. Take for example music, you’ve got to buy the instrument, buy recording equipment or hire studio space, possibly pay someone to mix it and then it’s finally ready for upload. This doesn’t take into account further costs of advertising, getting to gigs, practice space. It’s a vicious circle. Indeed Chas Moody from the band Ladies who have around 1.3K Facebook followers stated that:

All your money from gigs goes back into the band to pay for rehearsing or getting to gigs. Sales on iTunes are the biggest maker if you only upload online but still, it’s pretty small. Basically, you make no money till you’ve made it.

In fact, you’re in debt.

This can be said for all creatives out there, take running a website. To start up your own website you need to pay for hosting rights, logo design, equipment such as microphones for the podcast and a laptop that doesn’t blow up at the slightest strain. Film maker, microphones, cameras, tripods, you get the idea, It all begins to add up.

Furthermore, you could have the best content in the world but if no one is reading it, listening to it or watching it then it’s going to go unappreciated. As we saw with YouTube’s numbers a large majority of use is occupied by the big ballers out there. Thus if you even want to make the slightest splash in the ocean you’re going to have to plug some pounds into advertisement or hope to hell your friends and family help you out by shoving it in people’s faces at every opportunity.

I know the end goal shouldn’t be to make money but let’s be realistic for a moment, to be able to live a dream you need to be able to sustain it. Even the big creators out there are starting to turn their back on the platforms inconsistent earning potentials. Thus you’ll often see most out there with GoFundMe pages, Patreon pages or constantly plugging their merchandise. I used to despise this approach but as each day goes by the more and more I see the necessity of it. So much so that I’m going to be incredibly cheeky and low-key beg for your support of The Bickering press by becoming a Patreon right here.

Being a creative shouldn’t be shunned and looked down upon. The types of people who claim you should “Get a REAL job” don’t seem to understand that these are “REAL jobs” that take just as much time and effort to keep up and I respect anyone who pursues this venture. It’s a tough path to follow, one that is as emotionally and physically demanding as many other professions out there. As reported by The Financial Times, the current job market in absolute turmoil and has been in chaos ever since the financial crash of 2008. This has led to more and more people trying to develop themselves as self-employed as there just aren’t enough jobs out there. If this should be through a creative skill I don’t see how it’s any different from selling ties or insurance. It’s surely something benefitting the world.

Those musicians you pay large amounts of money to go see live or actors in the latest blockbusters were once just some young people with a dream. Sure, it might have taken a bit of luck, meeting the right person here, getting the right audition there but at the end of the day if they had just “Gotten a real job” the world wouldn’t have some of the masterpieces we’re lucky to consume.

I’m now going to spout a line I never thought I would say but if you enjoy what we do here at The Bickering Press could you please “Like, Share And Subscribe” Thank you.