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30 review for Making Art in the Twenty-First Century: How Writers, Musicians, and Others are Earning a Living—or Trying to—in the Digital Age

  1. 4 out of 5

    Blake Charlton

    another lifetime ago, when i was a sophomore at yale, there was a buzz about a young english professor named william deresiewicz. he was known for being brilliant, insightful, often funny, sometimes acerbic, and yet also earnest and carrying. during the many semesters in which he slashed my essays into ribbons before teaching me how to do it all, write it all better, i learned that the rumors were true. this latest book is bill at his best: witty, perspicacious, earnest, engaging. for anyone who another lifetime ago, when i was a sophomore at yale, there was a buzz about a young english professor named william deresiewicz. he was known for being brilliant, insightful, often funny, sometimes acerbic, and yet also earnest and carrying. during the many semesters in which he slashed my essays into ribbons before teaching me how to do it all, write it all better, i learned that the rumors were true. this latest book is bill at his best: witty, perspicacious, earnest, engaging. for anyone who cares about the arts, this is a vital read. bill thoughtfully examines how the changes in technology and society created a new and hostile environment for artists of all flavors. while you might not always agree with bill's arguments, i think you'll find his presentation of the facts and the forces at play (ranging from amazon to spotify to digital piracy) fair, engaging, and undeniable.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Margaret

    This book should be required reading for everyone who is an artist or creator of any kind, in any medium, and by everyone who enjoys art, music, writing or any other kind of creative endeavor -- which is basically everyone. It is a truly important book, filled with truth. Often disturbing truth, but truth that needs to be known. Technology is no friend to the arts, no matter what big tech tells us. Read this book and share it with everyone you know!

  3. 4 out of 5

    Kressel Housman

    William Deresiewicz has an uncanny way of hitting me right where I live. His last book was about higher education, and this one is about the difficulty of trying to make a living doing creative work. Naturally, the chapter on writing was the one that got me taking notes, but musicians have it pretty bad, and visual artists have it worst of all. The thesis of the book is that thanks to the Internet, there are more ways of sharing your work than ever, but nobody is paying for it. Big Tech, as usua William Deresiewicz has an uncanny way of hitting me right where I live. His last book was about higher education, and this one is about the difficulty of trying to make a living doing creative work. Naturally, the chapter on writing was the one that got me taking notes, but musicians have it pretty bad, and visual artists have it worst of all. The thesis of the book is that thanks to the Internet, there are more ways of sharing your work than ever, but nobody is paying for it. Big Tech, as usual, is eating up everything. Like with the last book, I found myself agreeing wholeheartedly with the book until Deresiewicz made a point that got me angry. He took issue with the popular notion that “everyone is an artist.” He went on to qualify it in a way I can agree with: that everyone may have creative impulses and talents, but not everyone puts in the work of becoming an artist. Then he goes on to say we’d be better off consuming more art than attempting it to produce it ourselves. Excuse me? The only way to become an artist is to practice, and that is done by attempting to produce. How dare he discourage me from trying! The business side of his message was discouraging enough, but I appreciate the warning about the challenges I face. Telling me not to bother – that lost him a star.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Michael

    It has become somewhat of a cliche to title books “The Death of (fill in the blank)” — but William Deresiewicz, in his new book The Death of the Artist, makes a compelling and intensively researched case that the age of the independent, self-supporting artist — whether musician, novelist, painter, actor or dancer — may indeed be coming to an end. The reason? The growing inability of artists of all types to make a decent living, thanks to the overweening dominance of a handful of gatekeepers that It has become somewhat of a cliche to title books “The Death of (fill in the blank)” — but William Deresiewicz, in his new book The Death of the Artist, makes a compelling and intensively researched case that the age of the independent, self-supporting artist — whether musician, novelist, painter, actor or dancer — may indeed be coming to an end. The reason? The growing inability of artists of all types to make a decent living, thanks to the overweening dominance of a handful of gatekeepers that control access to content and permit legalized piracy. These gatekeepers — Amazon, Apple, Google, YouTube, Facebook and Microsoft in particular — earn trillions, while the overwhelming majority of creative artists earn next to nothing, or nothing at all. It’s a system that, as Deresiewicz notes, “rewards the few and leaves the rest to fight for scraps. It’s virality or bust, stardom or oblivion.” The crowning insult? The pundits and pontificators who grease the wheels for this monopoly on creative expression by perpetuating the pernicious myth that “information wants to be free,” and the academics, from the security of their tenured positions, who propagate the even more damaging myth of the starving artist and “art for art’s sake.” What I particularly liked about this essential volume is Deresiewicz’s bluntness, to wit: “If your business model depends on not paying people, it isn’t a business model; it’s a criminal conspiracy.” And (regarding the fatuous arguments against copyright that have arisen in the age of digitization): “It did not occur to anyone that it was acceptable to rip off people’s work until it was easy to do so. Arguments against copyright are ex post facto rationalizations of a system of organized theft.” And “Musicians work for love, writers will write for free, amateurs make better art: all of this is baby talk, make-believe.” But The Death of the Artist is no polemic or screed — its real audience is not the legislators and opinion leaders who theoretically possess the power to break up big tech, but rather the young artists who are grappling with big tech’s dominance and their own dwindling prospects, and who desire ardently to “keep (their) soul intact and still make a living as an artist.” If you are an aspiring artist or know one, this book is absolutely essential reading.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Eric Suchyta

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. *** I received on ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review *** The Death of the Artist was an all-around solid nonfiction work about what has happened to make the lives of artists (music, TV, film, visual) even harder over the last two decades: piracy, demonetization, Big Tech. The rich get richer and the poor get poorer. Deresiewicz cites many example of how the "middle class" of art is dying, and concludes the book by offering thoughts on how artists and the larger population can fight *** I received on ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review *** The Death of the Artist was an all-around solid nonfiction work about what has happened to make the lives of artists (music, TV, film, visual) even harder over the last two decades: piracy, demonetization, Big Tech. The rich get richer and the poor get poorer. Deresiewicz cites many example of how the "middle class" of art is dying, and concludes the book by offering thoughts on how artists and the larger population can fight back. Something I found impressive about this book, is the seamless juxtaposition of statistics along side personal stories. It is well informed both by the number and by going and talking directly to the source, that is the artists themselves. The author well-frames unifying similarities facing the different industries, without sacrificing discussion of important differences between them. Compared to some other nonfiction I've read in the past year, this book is well organized. I knew where it was going the whole time. The main points were laid out early in the book, then well reinforced the further I read. Probably my largest criticism is over-diligence. Each medium-specific chapter had at least six extended example narratives following an artist's personal story, which felt like a little overkill. Deresiewicz isn't afraid to add a "fuck you" where necessary, for example, when rebuffing the attitude that piracy is OK. This is an appreciated touch that some author's might shy away from. I came to this book, at least in part because I've been a huge music fan for so many years. If you're a fan of any of the Arts, you can't really go wrong reading this book to better inform yourself of the current landscape. Like me, you may have some idea of the kinds of things detailed here, but regardless it will almost certainly broaden your insight and perspective, and more importantly connect you to the perspective of those suffering most.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Chris Aylott

    Essayist and critic Deresiewicz explores all the new ways in which artists can starve in the 21st century. Drawing from 140+ interviews, he does an excellent job of describing the situation in the artists’ own words, but his own biases and assumptions get in the way of truly understanding it. I have my own biases, but I think he should be giving a lot more attention to America’s ridiculous inequalities and lack of proper health care than the fine details of current copyright law. To his credit, Essayist and critic Deresiewicz explores all the new ways in which artists can starve in the 21st century. Drawing from 140+ interviews, he does an excellent job of describing the situation in the artists’ own words, but his own biases and assumptions get in the way of truly understanding it. I have my own biases, but I think he should be giving a lot more attention to America’s ridiculous inequalities and lack of proper health care than the fine details of current copyright law. To his credit, he brings up all three problems (and several more besides), but I think he fails to fully appreciate how many problems would be alleviated by universal health care and education funding.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Thomas

    The best part of the book is Part IV, about the history and economics of art. I think the book would have been stronger if it started there, because it provides helpful context for the rest of the discussion (and to me, it points out some of the strengths of the current paradigm along with its weaknesses - as a quick thought experiment: if you're a woman wanting to make a living from art and could choose the time period: would you want to start now? The 1950s? 19th century? The 17th?). Deresiewi The best part of the book is Part IV, about the history and economics of art. I think the book would have been stronger if it started there, because it provides helpful context for the rest of the discussion (and to me, it points out some of the strengths of the current paradigm along with its weaknesses - as a quick thought experiment: if you're a woman wanting to make a living from art and could choose the time period: would you want to start now? The 1950s? 19th century? The 17th?). Deresiewicz can be a bit grumpy and elitist in his criticism, and that comes through here (the "amateur" is a figure singled out for scorn), although to his credit he brings in a large number of interviews/quotes from a diverse set of artists working in different fields (including a number, based on what I know of his criticism, that are well outside his own area of interest and taste). I also think that while the focus of the book is how even if you have "made it" artistically it is extremely difficult to make a living, this sometimes gets confused with the issues of how difficult it is to "make it" artistically in the first place. It is very much an American book and some more detailed comparison with artists living and working in other contexts would have been helpful (as it is we only get a quick note at the end noting that governments in Europe provide much more public arts funding as a percentage of GDP). Really, to me, the art world is representative of problems that are occurring at a societal scale in the US, a conclusion that Deresiewicz seems to share in the final pages. Even if you have "made it" in a normie job by finding what would have once upon a time been a "middle class" role, you may still be living paycheck to paycheck and struggling to pay the rent. The relative scarcity of opportunity in the arts even in the very best of times just makes the lottery we're all playing, the loss of the middle class, the loss of stability etc. especially visible. I don't think the book told me anything I didn't already know (although again, I liked the concision of that short history section), but I can imagine it being a helpful reality check for someone with a particularly rosy picture of trying to make a living as an artist (the sophomore in a BFA program at a lower tier college etc.). For me, it was a bit of a grind, and reading it ended up becoming a sort of self-flagellating reminder of the challenges of the current moment ... which can get an amateur like me down. So, read at your own risk.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Autumn Kovach

    A great read that I think many artists and non-artists should read. Creative people do their art for a bunch of reasons and many include not for the money, as the book explains is extremely hard to do anyway. Instead of telling your baker friend to turn their passion into a bakery, just enjoy their work and appreciate them for doing it. Not every idea needs to or should be capitalized on. It was interesting to be reminded how big tech has crippled the artist economy and how much accountability n A great read that I think many artists and non-artists should read. Creative people do their art for a bunch of reasons and many include not for the money, as the book explains is extremely hard to do anyway. Instead of telling your baker friend to turn their passion into a bakery, just enjoy their work and appreciate them for doing it. Not every idea needs to or should be capitalized on. It was interesting to be reminded how big tech has crippled the artist economy and how much accountability needs to be implemented in their practices. Thankfully things like patreon are starting to become normal since it's impossible to actually sell ones work for a decent price as the market has become saturated, then diluted by everyone participating on free platforms. I don't like to play the victim but it's nice to hear validation for all the ways it is truly difficult to gain success - Not every artist is a marketer and those who are just good at their art shouldn't feel less than for not having the "whole package." I really hope things change soon. Once again, America has misplaced priorities. "When artists assert that they ought to get paid and paid fairly, it’s because they want to make a living, not a killing. They want enough to keep doing it. Artists are like other professionals who work from a sense of commitment; teachers, social workers and to opt for satisfaction over wealth. They still have bills to pay. You don’t have to be doing something for the money to want to get money for doing it. You just have to be alive."

  9. 4 out of 5

    Carol Wu

    I had received this book in exchange for a review, so imagine my chagrin when it literally said that publicity was nothing and respecting an artist meant paying for their work. ⁣ ⁣ Oops. ⁣ But that was only the first of 300 pages of personalized roasting, and it would not be the only time I suffered at Deresiewicz’s hands. ⁣ ⁣ His previous book, Excellent Sheep, had trampled all over my prolonged quarter life crisis as a bewildered elite college graduate. This one, directly speaking to both real artis I had received this book in exchange for a review, so imagine my chagrin when it literally said that publicity was nothing and respecting an artist meant paying for their work. ⁣ ⁣ Oops. ⁣ But that was only the first of 300 pages of personalized roasting, and it would not be the only time I suffered at Deresiewicz’s hands. ⁣ ⁣ His previous book, Excellent Sheep, had trampled all over my prolonged quarter life crisis as a bewildered elite college graduate. This one, directly speaking to both real artists and those who have been deceived into believing themselves to be such by Silicon Valley’s propaganda, shows us the harsh reality artists face today as they are increasingly cornered by rising living costs and the decreased financial feasibility. ⁣ ⁣ Deresiewicz began the book by decrypting misleading assumptions promulgated by Big Tech companies who profit from content and data at the expense of the creators, and lo and behold, I had bought into the vast majority of them. Deresiewicz’s language is quick and witty, but its resounding truth made me wonder how on Earth I had never seen the art world the way he did. I knew artists were struggling and that many were balancing side jobs and social media engagement and rent and student debt, but obviously those we do know are the few who have succeeded. We never hear about the overwhelming majority. ⁣ ⁣ This book is the product of countless investigations and interviews and it shows. I was often startled by not only statistics but also stories and interpretations, and while there are also parts with which I am less impressed, this is an informative read for both artists themselves and those who care about their maintenance and prosperity. Although I shut the book still confused about the definition and discernment of “real art” as opposed to creative dabbling, I feel so lucky to be a fan of a contemporary author who is still alive and to whose new works I can always look forward.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Rachel Pollock

    Giving up on this at 40%. It’s full of unflinching observations about how difficult it is to make even a shitty living as an artist in America in the 21st century, but it’s also steeped in a perspective of white privilege. Which it acknowledges, even as it others non-white artists in a completely clueless gross way. Thanks bro but nah.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Noah Gift

    Great points in the book about tech companies and how they have screwed up the world.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Kris

    Death of the middle-class artist. Tech & platform monopolies. Economic disparities. “It’s not enough to practice your craft every day… you also need to practice networking, bookkeeping, watching trends.” “The very tools that have made it so easy to create have contributed to the confusion of quality with mediocrity.” “The less money there is in the arts overall, the more they become a rich kid’s game.” “…the ongoing loss of the “middle-class” artist. The vast majority of people who try to become pr Death of the middle-class artist. Tech & platform monopolies. Economic disparities. “It’s not enough to practice your craft every day… you also need to practice networking, bookkeeping, watching trends.” “The very tools that have made it so easy to create have contributed to the confusion of quality with mediocrity.” “The less money there is in the arts overall, the more they become a rich kid’s game.” “…the ongoing loss of the “middle-class” artist. The vast majority of people who try to become professional artists do not succeed; the vast majority of those who earn any money at all from their art earn tiny amounts. … [“Middle-class”] To pay for adequate housing, to afford reliable health care, to take a vacation every once in a while – rather than subsisting from check to check, forever on the brink of the financial abyss.” | “…there’s nothing left to shield you from the market [e.g., academic positions].” “...the reason we find ourselves divided today into a myriad of micro-identities (or one of the reasons, at least) is that that is the way we are marketed to.” “Piracy is an invisible crime. The movies that are most affected are the ones that don’t get made. … “It’s the little indie films like ours… where we’re totally dependent on the back end, that are most vulnerable.” And since the world of indie films… is much more representative than Hollywood, piracy also hurts diversity.” “…it did not occur to anyone that it was acceptable to rip off people’s work until it was easy to do so [e.g., Napster].” “The cheaper the content, the better for them [Silicon Valley and tech giants Google, Facebook, Amazon, etc.], because they’re metering the flow – counting our clicks and selling the resulting data – and they want that flow to be as frictionless as possible.” “The vast reserves of wealth at Silicon Valley’s disposal also enable it to undersell and undermine the competition. Again, we saw this with Amazon, which treats both books and video content as loss leaders, ways to sell Echos and subscriptions to Prime. … [Venture Capital] funding is what has allowed corporations like Amazon and Spotify (or, more obviously, Uber) to run at a loss for years on end. The model, invariable, is this: aggressively build market share with subsidized products or services (Uber still loses money on every ride); kill off rivals, including those in the existing industry that you’re “disrupting” (books, music, taxis); secure a monopoly.” “Together with piracy… venture funding has created the feeling that content will and should be free, a feeling that has proved so damaging to the arts.” “A number of organizations are simply trying to enable artists to operate in the market free from subservience to the likes of Facebook and Amazon. … CASH [Music], a non-profit, creates free, open-source digital tools. “Anything an artist needs… to connect directly with their audience on their own website”: a shopping cart, tour-date management, email-list management, etc.” “The exchange evolved into OurGoods, “an online barter network for artists, designers”… “Design thinking, [Amy] Whitaker says, is about getting from point A to point B, figuring out how to realize a predetermined goal. Art thinking is an open-ended, exploratory process in the course of which, she says, you “invent point B,” discovering your goal through the act of trying to reach it.”

  13. 5 out of 5

    Arthur Hoyle

    Deresiewicz traverses the cultural and economic landscape facing independent artists in the major popular art forms--literature, music, and film. He explains how the spread of digital technology, by eliminating gatekeepers whose standards and judgments restrict the flow of product, has flooded the market with too many books, albums, and films. The oversupply makes it more difficult for all artists to earn a living from their work and forces them to become "creative entrepreneurs" who spend more Deresiewicz traverses the cultural and economic landscape facing independent artists in the major popular art forms--literature, music, and film. He explains how the spread of digital technology, by eliminating gatekeepers whose standards and judgments restrict the flow of product, has flooded the market with too many books, albums, and films. The oversupply makes it more difficult for all artists to earn a living from their work and forces them to become "creative entrepreneurs" who spend more time marketing and promoting their art than they do making it. The beneficiaries of this free-for-all are the owners of the platforms that distribute the content that striving (and starving) artists are willing to provide for free in the hopes of establishing their "brand" and building a loyal base of fans who will buy their work. This arrangement not only exploits artists, it degrades the quality of the art that they make.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Michael

    It has become somewhat of a cliche to title books “The Death of (fill in the blank)” — but William Deresiewicz, in his new book The Death of the Artist, makes a compelling and intensively researched case that the age of the independent, self-supporting artist — whether musician, novelist, painter, actor or dancer — may indeed be coming to an end. The reason? The growing inability of artists of all types to make a decent living, thanks to the overweening dominance of a handful of gatekeepers that It has become somewhat of a cliche to title books “The Death of (fill in the blank)” — but William Deresiewicz, in his new book The Death of the Artist, makes a compelling and intensively researched case that the age of the independent, self-supporting artist — whether musician, novelist, painter, actor or dancer — may indeed be coming to an end. The reason? The growing inability of artists of all types to make a decent living, thanks to the overweening dominance of a handful of gatekeepers that control access to content and permit legalized piracy. These gatekeepers — Amazon, Apple, Google, YouTube, Facebook and Microsoft in particular — earn trillions, while the overwhelming majority of creative artists earn next to nothing, or nothing at all. It’s a system that, as Deresiewicz notes, “rewards the few and leaves the rest to fight for scraps. It’s virality or bust, stardom or oblivion.” The crowning insult? The pundits and pontificators who grease the wheels for this monopoly on creative expression by perpetuating the pernicious myth that “information wants to be free,” and the academics, from the security of their tenured positions, who propagate the even more damaging myth of the starving artist and “art for art’s sake.” What I particularly liked about this essential volume is Deresiewicz’s bluntness, to wit: “If your business model depends on not paying people, it isn’t a business model; it’s a criminal conspiracy.” And (regarding the fatuous arguments against copyright that have arisen in the age of digitization): “It did not occur to anyone that it was acceptable to rip off people’s work until it was easy to do so. Arguments against copyright are ex post facto rationalizations of a system of organized theft.” And “Musicians work for love, writers will write for free, amateurs make better art: all of this is baby talk, make-believe.” But The Death of the Artist is no polemic or screed — its real audience is not the legislators and opinion leaders who theoretically possess the power to break up big tech, but rather the young artists who are grappling with big tech’s dominance and their own dwindling prospects, and who desire ardently to “keep (their) soul intact and still make a living as an artist.” If you are an aspiring artist or know one, this book is absolutely essential reading.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Lynn Lipinski

    I bought this book because I'd hoped it would give me some ideas for marketing my own fiction writing and poetry in a crowded market in which some 1 million books are published/self-published a year (that's what Deresiewicz reports). Instead the book and Deresiewicz's exhaustive reporting and dark view of the impacts of the widening gap between rich and poor has been depressing and gratifying at the same time. Depressing because his detailed account of all the forces working against creators and I bought this book because I'd hoped it would give me some ideas for marketing my own fiction writing and poetry in a crowded market in which some 1 million books are published/self-published a year (that's what Deresiewicz reports). Instead the book and Deresiewicz's exhaustive reporting and dark view of the impacts of the widening gap between rich and poor has been depressing and gratifying at the same time. Depressing because his detailed account of all the forces working against creators and writers makes it clear that tales of real success (in terms of book sales and income) are few and far between. Gratifying in that the book's makes clear what the landscape really looks like for "content creators," validating our struggles and career paths by shattering the notions that the successes of the past can be replicated in today's economy. So it's freeing really, to not have to compare yourself to the greats of yester-year, but instead to understand that we resemble our times more than we do our forefathers. The chapter on musicians resonated with me as I read it, thinking about my own frustrations reading the tired advice of people who came up in different times with different connections, possibly with different income streams. You know the kind of advice that makes you say "good for you" as you think to yourself, "I can never replicate that situation in my own life." Deresiewicz has his own version of this story, recounting senior academics in the 1990s failing to understand the market realities facing students. This book unfailingly paints a picture of the current landscape with no rosy nostalgia glasses on. You may not like the portrait, but it's honest. The part of me that found the book depressing wanted to knock off a star for how it made me feel but I'm sticking with 5 stars because it's really well researched and well done.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Chris Boutté

    This book was extremely well written and researched to discuss the difficulties of being a creative in this day and age. I would highly recommend this book to young people who are passionate about art and are thinking of turning it into a career because this book has a lot of truth about how difficult that can be. Although the majority of this book discusses the problems with trying to survive as an artist during this time, I think it did a great job summarizing some solutions in the concluding This book was extremely well written and researched to discuss the difficulties of being a creative in this day and age. I would highly recommend this book to young people who are passionate about art and are thinking of turning it into a career because this book has a lot of truth about how difficult that can be. Although the majority of this book discusses the problems with trying to survive as an artist during this time, I think it did a great job summarizing some solutions in the concluding chapter.  As a creative myself, I was torn about this book. A lot of people can benefit from this book, but personally, it felt like there was a lot of entitlement throughout the book. While the world does need artists, it almost felt like the artists interviewed and the author knew of a mythical time when artists thrive, but that's not the case. As long as being an artist has been a thing, they've struggled, and I personally think that's fair. It's a big ask to want to do something you love and make a significant amount doing it; especially when art is so subjective. Aside from some of what I felt was entitlement, there were a lot of good conversations about copyright and how Big Tech is screwing over artists. I enjoyed the book and recommended it, but only for the aspect that it helps people realize that being an artist as your career isn't a logical decision. Not only is it not a logical decision, but it never has been, and it never will be due to the nature of art.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Kim Pallister

    A good overview of the zeitgeist around the impact of both capitalism and in particular big tech on Artists and arts- and media-centric industries (books, music, movies, games, etc). Many of the elements covered (copyright, piracy, gatekeepers & platforms, distribution & middlement, etc, etc) won't be new to those that have been following these types of issues for a while, but the author does a decent job pulling them together. In particular, framing them as systemic problems tied to capitalism A good overview of the zeitgeist around the impact of both capitalism and in particular big tech on Artists and arts- and media-centric industries (books, music, movies, games, etc). Many of the elements covered (copyright, piracy, gatekeepers & platforms, distribution & middlement, etc, etc) won't be new to those that have been following these types of issues for a while, but the author does a decent job pulling them together. In particular, framing them as systemic problems tied to capitalism & neoliberalism - and thus related to the larger issues of antitrust, organized labor, economic inequality, is useful for those that haven't connected those dots. Also, by basing most of the book on real-world examples taken from hundreds of conversations with real artists across the spectrum, he makes what could be a dry topic instead far more engaging. My only gripe is that there are a few places in the book where laying blame largely on Big Tech, he loses sight that many of these problems are really about 'controls of the means of production'. e.g. numerous books covering the punk rock scenes in the UK and later in SoCal, discuss artists having to build their own way to reach audiences and get paid (or not) because radio and TV wouldn't touch them - long before iTunes and Amazon, gatekeeping existed. Perhaps worse now, but the theme of continual reinvention was missed a bit by focusing too much on the present. That small gripe aside, this was a good read.

  18. 4 out of 5

    fivestarbookreview

    One of the worst things about being an artist, suggests William Deresiewicz, is that everyone thinks they can be one. Through The Death of the Artist, Deresiewicz drills down into the changes in the art world that have almost universally been detrimental to the making of art and of artists. From internet piracy to professionalizing masters programs, proliferation of middle men to the insidious suggestion that the internet “leveled the playing field,” each new point will cause a sharp spike of pa One of the worst things about being an artist, suggests William Deresiewicz, is that everyone thinks they can be one. Through The Death of the Artist, Deresiewicz drills down into the changes in the art world that have almost universally been detrimental to the making of art and of artists. From internet piracy to professionalizing masters programs, proliferation of middle men to the insidious suggestion that the internet “leveled the playing field,” each new point will cause a sharp spike of pain for anyone who currently has artistic aspirations. Artists, are now expected to come to the market pre-packaged, self-branded, and often, independently financed. The dirty secret of the industry is that it is just that, an industry – with supply and demand, producers and consumers. Through destroying the myth of the outside artist, Deresiewicz clarifies how far our modern arts market has come from the age of the Renaissance. Romanticizing art, he underlines, is a quick way to fail.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Gregory Kompes

    Deresiewicz's perspective of the state of the arts (and the ability of artists to make a living) is dire and scary and sad. While I think it's important to know what he shares and I believe artists should read this book for the knowledge, I do think there are still excellent opportunities to make and profit from a career in the arts. This is simply one perspective. Where he lost a star for me was his conclusion. While I don't disagree with it, he gave no steps for artists to follow to get to whe Deresiewicz's perspective of the state of the arts (and the ability of artists to make a living) is dire and scary and sad. While I think it's important to know what he shares and I believe artists should read this book for the knowledge, I do think there are still excellent opportunities to make and profit from a career in the arts. This is simply one perspective. Where he lost a star for me was his conclusion. While I don't disagree with it, he gave no steps for artists to follow to get to where he suggests we need to be as a country. With a broad stroke, we need to return to a different time and place with unions, the middle class, and basically no big tech companies. None of this seems realistic of possible. So, he's left artists with nothing to look forward to, or even to realistically hope for.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Angel

    I thought I would enjoy this more, as I adored Excellent Sheep. I think Death of the Artist has the same high quality of research and writing, but it fell flat for me. From a technical standpoint, there is little to complain about; Deresiewicz showcases his exemplary wit in this incisive commentary on art in the digital age. Content-wise, this work fell a bit flat for me. Despite the cogent discussion of copyright and other legal/political matters around art, the argument felt dismissive of art I thought I would enjoy this more, as I adored Excellent Sheep. I think Death of the Artist has the same high quality of research and writing, but it fell flat for me. From a technical standpoint, there is little to complain about; Deresiewicz showcases his exemplary wit in this incisive commentary on art in the digital age. Content-wise, this work fell a bit flat for me. Despite the cogent discussion of copyright and other legal/political matters around art, the argument felt dismissive of art as a partially cultural product (as opposed to purely some brainchild of the artist). Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book through Goodreads First Reads.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Matt

    A strong assessment of where we are. Deresiewiscz fell flat for me with the "we don't need UBI" and "just re-invigorate the middle class" rhetoric in the wrap-up. Largely because the pre-pandemic middle class was almost entirely white and suburban, and the UBI policy would specifically target creating earner equity for artists who were left out of both the old systems and the tech boom. Still, in terms of assessing 1) is it really that bad out there? and 2) should we create anyway, but get over A strong assessment of where we are. Deresiewiscz fell flat for me with the "we don't need UBI" and "just re-invigorate the middle class" rhetoric in the wrap-up. Largely because the pre-pandemic middle class was almost entirely white and suburban, and the UBI policy would specifically target creating earner equity for artists who were left out of both the old systems and the tech boom. Still, in terms of assessing 1) is it really that bad out there? and 2) should we create anyway, but get over ourselves and have some very frank conversations about charging for our art? This is a timely and very useful book.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Alysha

    This book had a huge hype to it and as an artist, I was looking forward to this type of analysis. But it did not live up to the hype and left me feeling like the art world is dying and I will never sustain a life making art. But as an artist, I know that's not true because I know that art is a viable career and important for our communities. It really brought the conversation "Art is Dead" back to life and as we all know, Art has been around since the beginning of time and continues to sustain i This book had a huge hype to it and as an artist, I was looking forward to this type of analysis. But it did not live up to the hype and left me feeling like the art world is dying and I will never sustain a life making art. But as an artist, I know that's not true because I know that art is a viable career and important for our communities. It really brought the conversation "Art is Dead" back to life and as we all know, Art has been around since the beginning of time and continues to sustain in the generations of the roaring 20's and the cover-19 pandemic.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Jeffrey Fisher

    Yup. That happened. Mistakes were made. And here we are. As a victim myself of many of the trends and (intentional?) sabotage of the art life, I could relate to this book and its portrait of woe. Can't say the remidies at its conclusion feel doable ... but we all gotta start somewhere. Buy art! In all its forms. Support artists and not the middle that drains the coffers while artists starve. Highly recommended! Yup. That happened. Mistakes were made. And here we are. As a victim myself of many of the trends and (intentional?) sabotage of the art life, I could relate to this book and its portrait of woe. Can't say the remidies at its conclusion feel doable ... but we all gotta start somewhere. Buy art! In all its forms. Support artists and not the middle that drains the coffers while artists starve. Highly recommended!

  24. 5 out of 5

    Nicole Brewer

    Ultimately a downer but nevertheless a page turner. A compendium of art markets in their burgeoning states from the mouths of expressive artists and chilling data. No surprises here, tech monopolies are bad in ways you never even dreamed! But until antitrust works out, purchase your content, even when it’s free. If you are some kind of artist or even content creator, mark this one as “want to read”.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Kent Winward

    Much to unpack in this book, but it provides a view of the current landscape and intriguingly, just how recent our vision of "artist" is and how fragile the concept even was. So many of us cling to the idea of the "Artist," but if anything this book is a manifesto demanding that we rethink what it means to create and be in this world. Much to unpack in this book, but it provides a view of the current landscape and intriguingly, just how recent our vision of "artist" is and how fragile the concept even was. So many of us cling to the idea of the "Artist," but if anything this book is a manifesto demanding that we rethink what it means to create and be in this world.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Kristilyn Waite

    The author really makes sense of the whirlwind, hypercrowded, attention economy as it, and big tech, affects creatives with professional aspirations. Spoiler alert - the outlook ain't very good... There is some hard to swallow advice at the end suggesting mobilizing and fighting for our rights and our dues. It's the answer, I know, but god we're tired. The author really makes sense of the whirlwind, hypercrowded, attention economy as it, and big tech, affects creatives with professional aspirations. Spoiler alert - the outlook ain't very good... There is some hard to swallow advice at the end suggesting mobilizing and fighting for our rights and our dues. It's the answer, I know, but god we're tired.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Timothy Stobbs

    Interesting overview of the arts today and just how little money there is in it. But beyond the mostly negative state of things a few okay ideas on how to do art and still have a soul. A bit long winded in spots but overall a useful read to understand the state of the arts.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Amy T.

    Insightful and depressing. This book gives clear reasons and history why the arts and the market have been at odds. And the other highlight is the glut of MFAs and art schools that churn out far more graduates (with crippling debt) than the market can absorb. Highly recommended reading.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Aaron Shulman

    This incisive and impassioned book should be required reading for anyone hoping to turn their craft or art into a profession, and for anyone interested in what it means to create and consume art today.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Sarah

    I tried, and there’s some merit in the argument, but I hated his writing so fucking much I couldn’t make it to 100 pages.

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