Artistic Entrepreneurship: The Business of Art and the Art of Business
George Musgrave [+]
If contemporary neoliberalism has a buzzword it would be that of ‘entrepreneurship’; the AirBnb-esque entrepreneurialisation of society whereby we are all rendered agents of our destiny in the exemplification of individualisation. Indeed, the notion that artists are themselves entrepreneurs is a concept which feels uncomfortable to those who adhere to a romanticised notion of creativity, and yet, artists are, and always have been, businesses of sorts. After all, as Bourdieu suggests, all agents seek profit, but not all profit is necessary fiscal. The central question of this chapter is; how does artistic entrepreneurship look and feel for artists today? That is, if the communicative heart of the music industry is the artists whose creative vision and desire to be heard propels the other components in the machine, what is the impact of an entrepreneurial orientation of their lives? Using the book’s central themes of ‘stickiness’ and the ‘power law’, this chapter will explore the ways in which todays artists seek to resolve the contradictions of the ‘Babel Objection’: ‘if everyone speaks at once how can anyone be heard’? How do todays artists entrepreneurially manoeuvre through that which Kretschmer evocatively describes as “the noise of creative ambition”, and what do their behaviours suggest to us about wider changes in not only the creative economy, but for art more generally? In an environment of desperate collaboration in order to differentiate oneself from the masses and ultimately achieve stickiness – of democratisation butting heads with the imperative for artistic uniqueness – how do artists feel that this strategic orientation towards creativity impacts their lives? In the absence of Vasari, we need new ways to understand the live of the artists, and these artistic lives are ones driven by entrepreneurial motivations which have profound ramifications for the ways in which artists live their lives. In essence, we might argue that the ultimate entrepreneurial success of artists is in fact simply being able to make music in the first place; carving out the time and space in cyberspaces ubiquity of urgencies against the backdrop of the ever collapsing structures of social democratic safety-nets which crumble under the relentless pressure of neoliberalism’s power, akin to Atlas’s knees finally buckling as the world weighs too heavily on his weary frame. Ultimately, what is the fate of these entrepreneurs who’s experiences of the world become the musical content we are all in this business to listen to and enjoy.