Trust Me I’m a Scientist

May 15, 2013
copyright TMIAS 2013!

copyright TMIAS 2013!

Recently found Justin Colletti‘s great blog Trust Me I’m a Scientist that focuses on all things music, not from a fan-boy perspective – though there’s certainly nothing wrong with that as they’re turning into modern day fanzines – but covering everything from recording techniques to management, promotion as well as the do’s and don’ts for a budding artist.Thankfully I’m a disciplined type of person meaning I now have dedicated one hour a day (and not one minute more!) catching up on the just brilliant collection of articles ’cause it is damn easy losing hours just reading it.

One of the really great ones is When to Work For Free (And When Not To) that struck me as just brilliant. Covering the usual bullshit mentality “DIY = “free labor”” that unfortunately isn’t just common within the real creative world but also pretty much seeps the underground community – although I highly doubt a lot of the creativity in said community, but that’s a whole different blog post – usually meaning YOU work for free while some douchebag SOMEONE ELSE profits from it. It’s a classic scenario exploiting people’s naïvité and/or hunger for work trying to “get exposure” when there’s usually no or very little exposure to be had. And having experienced it myself as well as seen some very talented people actually work themselves into stone cold poverty “for the scene” it sure struck home. A great quote:

In the creative culture, we’ve been primed to associate the word “DIY” with a kind of pure and noble approach. But it’s precisely because the term is so front-loaded with sanctity that it makes for a great marketing buzzword – one that can be used and abused for fun and profit. The term has been so eagerly twisted by people and powerful companies, that out in the real world, “DIY” can be a mixed bag, just like anything else.

The big thing to watch out for here is “Fake DIY.” This an increasing popular trend in which really, really rich people fund their own money-losing vanity projects or secretly profitable businesses, and then expect a whole bunch of people to work for them for free because they’re really “stickin’ it to the man.” You know, just like you guys! Steer clear.

Using considerable resources to start a crappy business that cuts corners and doesn’t compensate people fairly is not the same thing as “DIY.” If wealthy and well-connected people with access to healthy amounts of capital want to twist the term to market their businesses, then fine. That’s within their right of free expression. But it’s also their responsibility to compensate people appropriately for their work. DIY does not equal free labor.

If you’re new getting into this, or have some experience trying to make a living “within the arts” I highly recommend you read it. There’s some really good advice I think you should take to heart in order for you to maybe not make out like a bandit but at least get paid fairly for what you create while building and maintaining a career of sorts. Read it in full here.


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