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Friday, February 23, 2024

Column: Justin T. Ho

Last week I wrote about why illegal downloading is understandable, at least in certain cases. I don’t recommend it, but hey, I’m not going to judge you if you do.

My reasoning argued that a lot of musicians put little effort into the physical package of their releases, and therefore little effort should be put into the acquisition of such albums.

A couple days later I received an e-mail from my mom. In addition to being my most loyal reader (and probably my only loyal reader), my mom’s a craft hate-mailer. She wrote me a lengthy diatribe about why artists really do need money, and how I should be fired from The Aggie for such idiotic claims.

Not really, but in reality, she’s right. Artists need money. When my future in journalism is already looking dim, it’s hard to imagine what art majors are facing.

So, how should artists make money in these economically morbid times of digital distribution and wanton disregard for fine expression? Here are some possible steps and advice for making money in the art world.

Work at Starbucks

I had a great English teacher in high school, whose son graduated college with a degree in music. He then went on to work at Starbucks. Ten years later, he’s still making their sugar-loaded caramel macchiatos for that artsy young-to-middle-aged crowd that likes classical music and The Dave Matthews Band, but not too much of it.

Point being: Starbucks clearly attracts artists. Work there, get connections with other artists and hope for the best. If your artistic career doesn’t blossom, you’re bound to be a coffee aficionado by your second or third year as a bean grinder. There should be plenty of opportunities to discuss art and coffee over a few frappuccinos at the counter, or across stalls in the bathroom after a few more.

Don’t become an artist

This one’s simple. Change majors, find another career and earn at least $150,000 a year. Earn some money and spend it on some of these finer things in life so that those who skipped this step can maintain a living. No matter how easy it is to download an album these days, a gigantic record collection looks awesome in your living room.

I used to want to be a lawyer, but mainly for the awesome house I’d get. Artwork was the first thing I envisioned in my multi-million dollar future home, and though I’ll never actually live in one, I still plan to have some cool stuff on my walls.

Develop cutthroat business tactics

In today’s world, a successful artist is a successful businessman. Coincidentally, a successful businessman is also a conniving schemer who cares about nothing more in life than dealing it out and raking it in.

Power to these bastards – business booms for anyone with a salesman’s personable knack. Even if your artwork sucks, you can sell it if you’re good enough, or if your client is stupid enough.

Take Thomas Kinkade for example. You’ve probably seen his paintings at a great aunt’s house, Jack in the Box or a morgue. This God-fearing, self-proclaimed “painter of light” is a billion-dollar businessman, on top of being a painter, groper and master of public urination. His work is so cut-and-paste crappy that he doesn’t even paint it himself most of the time. But that doesn’t even matter for a guy of his class and style – add fuzzy warmth to a painting, tie yourself to Disney and stamp Jesus on everything you make for instant recognition. You’ll have it made in no time.

See shows, and buy concert t-shirts

Here’s everyone’s solution to the digital download problem. Before LiveNation and Ticketmaster destroy everything that’s left of the live music business, there’s still some time to go out and see your favorite bands for less than $100. Unless your favorite band is U2 or something.

Ever wonder why concert t-shirts are so expensive? Well according to Rolling Stone, the biggest percentage of each $35 t-shirt sale at concerts goes to the band – a much bigger cut than buying the band’s album.

Frequently buying band t-shirts also gives you an excuse to wear other band t-shirts at shows. Never wear a band t-shirt to that band’s concert. Your tastes will look mundane and basic, and nobody will ever think you’re indie. Be careful out there.

JUSTIN T. HO’s mom could paint the living crap out of Thomas Kinkade. She probably wouldn’t stoop to that level, though. E-mail him at arts@theaggie.org.


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