How Music Helps To Understand Economics - And Vice Versa

If we continue approaching the issue of dwindling arts incomes from the standpoint of emotionalism, of blaming capitalism, or the industry, or streaming services, we are leading the charge for an irrational battle cry.

Though consumers determine prices, it’s important to understand we have to say “no” when the investments we make in our products are continuously greater than our return. We say no by taking advantage of all the market has to offer. Many artists are already doing this. They’re recording their own albums. They’re taking advantage of live streaming. They’re foregoing “360” deals with record labels that result in them losing rights to their music.

These smart business decisions don’t solve the overall problem overnight. But it’s a step in the right direction.

As the great Austrian economist Ludwig von Mises once said, “All rational action is in the first place individual action. Only the individual thinks. Only the individual reasons. Only the individual acts.”

It won’t be some union that saves us. It definitely won’t be outdated entertainment law written during the 1920s music landscape.

It will be the individual artist, the writer, the musician, who understands and champions art as business, and makes rational, economically sound decisions to reflect that philosophy.

This understanding executed via the free market will ultimately be what corrects horribly low streaming payouts, incredibly high investment prices, and artists relying on the heart instead of the head to make art profitable.

Richard Halley, a character in Ayn Rand’s monumental novel Atlas Shrugged, said it best.

“For if there is more tragic a fool than the businessman who doesn’t know that he’s an exponent of man’s highest creative spirit — it’s the artist who thinks that the businessman is his enemy.”

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