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The Death of the Artist

How Creators Are Struggling to Survive in the Age of Billionaires and Big Tech
Narrated by: Sean Patrick Hopkin
Length: 13 hrs and 55 mins
Categories: Arts & Entertainment, Arts
5 out of 5 stars (1 rating)

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Publisher's Summary

A deeply researched warning about how the digital economy threatens artists' lives and work - the music, writing, and visual art that sustain our souls and societies - from an award-winning essayist and critic

There are two stories you hear about earning a living as an artist in the digital age. One comes from Silicon Valley. There's never been a better time to be an artist, it goes. If you've got a laptop, you've got a recording studio. If you've got an iPhone, you've got a movie camera. And if production is cheap, distribution is free: it's called the Internet. Everyone's an artist; just tap your creativity and put your stuff out there. 

The other comes from artists themselves. Sure, it goes, you can put your stuff out there, but who's going to pay you for it? Everyone is not an artist. Making art takes years of dedication, and that requires a means of support. If things don't change, a lot of art will cease to be sustainable. 

So which account is true? Since people are still making a living as artists today, how are they managing to do it? William Deresiewicz, a leading critic of the arts and of contemporary culture, set out to answer those questions. Based on interviews with artists of all kinds, The Death of the Artist argues that we are in the midst of an epochal transformation. If artists were artisans in the Renaissance, bohemians in the 19th century, and professionals in the 20th, a new paradigm is emerging in the digital age, one that is changing our fundamental ideas about the nature of art and the role of the artist in society.

A Macmillan Audio production from Henry Holt and Company 

©2020 William Deresiewicz (P)2020 Macmillan Audio

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  • Blake Boles
  • 03-09-2020

A complete analysis of what creatives face today

A phenomenal work. Completely described my experiences and struggles as a writer and creator. Deresiewicz's previous book, Excellent Sheep, is a long-time favorite, and now I find myself recommending Death of the Artist to a whole new cadre of friends.

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  • Ally
  • 28-08-2020

A must read/listen for anyone involved in the arts


This is a must-read/listen for anyone who is even semi-seriously attempting to make a living as a musician / artist, who cares about anyone who is trying to do so, or who is even tangentially interested in the landscape or economic issues relating to such. This book, though both data analysis and testimonials, confirms many of the trends I've suspected, experienced, blogged about, podcasted about, and thought about constantly. It also contextualizes them in the broader landscape of the economy.

Additionally, this was written pre-covid, obviously, so if you think the title is hyperbolic, odds are that it's not hyperbolic enough. Makes a great suggestion for the next person who asks you to do something "for exposure"!