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Free swag is ruining art & entrepreneurship

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posted on Apr, 1 2014 @ 11:54 PM
We all like free stuff. If something is available for free, we don’t pay for it. Usually, free stuff isn’t very good, though, unless it’s stolen or being given away in a desperate attempt to draw in customers who will pay later.

Maybe it’s the availability of illegal downloads that has made people feel the Communistic sense of entitlement-that everyone should share everything and everything should be free. This social welfare concept has forced struggling artists and entrepreneurs to generate a bunch of freebies just so people will try the fruits of their hard labor.

Yesterday’s consumers wanted free product samples, attractive packaging, endorsements and commercials. Today they want a fully-interactive website with games, quizzes, downloadables, graphics and dozens and dozens of pages of content discussing your product from every conceivable angle. They want a sales pitch they’ve never seen. Funny YouTube videos. A blog or web comic dating back years that gives away most of your ideas. And they want it all for FREE. A marketing package that takes corporations a team of people months and hundreds of thousands of dollars to create and if you do all of that by yourself, out of your own pocket, maybe they’ll consider buying your thing, if they’re not busy or distracted by all of the other free crap they’re getting from everyone else.

Presentation is everything. Style over substance. "Sell the sizzle, not the steak." Most of what’s being passed off as steak in art & business is crappy donkey meat, which is sold as prime rib, because the snake-oil hucksters out there run a good PR show. They are fabulists who can spin a few threads into a flashy-looking tapestry. They are graphomaniacs who don’t mind vomiting out volumes of superficial content, and the public laps it up because they don’t know any better and because it’s FREE.

Want to sell a product you made? In addition to creating the thing, you’ve got to come up with the label, do the graphic design and take it around to the shops by hand and get people to try it. They might even like your product, but then-what’s that you say? No free T-shirts? No website with flash games? Sorry, you’re not professional. Hit the bricks, pal.

Want to publish a book? Keep dreaming. Show up to a publishing agent with 250,000 fans from your website and maybe they’ll give you the time of day. That’s right, they want YOU to do the leg work of building your audience so they can take 15% of your signing cash just for picking up the phone to the publisher. Where will you get 250,000 fans? Not their problem, man. Maybe you can give away some free crap and generate word-of-mouth.

The pinnacle of the “something for nothing” mentality is Kickstarter. Crowd source funding is brilliant in theory-if you’ve got a product that people want, they’ll give you money to support it. It’s a direct supplier-to customer chain that avoids the middlemen, builds your fan base and distribution network and generates some capital to help you get over some of the barriers for a typical start-up. It’s completely market-driven. BUT…then at every level, you’re expected to do what…give away free crap! I’ve seen people put as much work into their Kickstarter giveaways as in the original product. Maybe the swag is some kind of “guarantee” that the Kickstarter person won’t just abscond with your pledge money, although that sometimes happens anyway.

If you want to make it out there, you’ve got to start with enough capital to give away five dollars’ worth of stuff for every dollar you earn or you’ve got to have a product that’s so amazing that people will just volunteer their time to help you get it out there-and you’ve just got to hope that no one steals it.
edit on 1-4-2014 by Snsoc because: typo

posted on Apr, 2 2014 @ 12:06 AM
the enemy of a monopoly is a competitor..

posted on Apr, 2 2014 @ 12:12 AM
reply to post by Snsoc

I make hand made all natural skin care products. I always have small sample bottles and jars of what I make to pass out to customers. I also make guest size bars of hand made soap to pass out.

I had fun making my logo used in all my printed material. I have a lot of pride in what I make.

Including free samples in orders I ship, has paid off handsomely for me.

I don't know what your rant is really about. My customers for the most part, end up purchasing full sizes of the sample products I pass out.

It's called works if you have a quality product...


edit on 2-4-2014 by Destinyone because: (no reason given)

posted on Apr, 2 2014 @ 12:19 AM
reply to post by Snsoc

Markets change.
Adapt or die.

posted on Apr, 2 2014 @ 01:31 AM
Starred you for showing passion. We are all to an extent deprived of it. Stay strong and stay true to yourself. Maybe use this opportunity to get creative with your arts & business. I quit my job today to pursue my passion in art. May you find strength in the fact that you are not alone, there are others just like you SHARING every step of the way. Hope this helps you.

posted on Apr, 2 2014 @ 02:10 AM
reply to post by Snsoc

Well most pirates aren't bad people, you'll find some are the most ethical people ever and they do this to get a taste of the product. There's a rule where if we like it we buy it and put our support behind the people who make it, as you can see with the music industry people pirate their songs, however they support the artist and attend their concerts. Sometimes they even go out and buy the CD, still generating the business enough money to produce new things, and still employ their employees and give the business enough revenue.

When I was in high school I had a really great business teacher. He said you have to do everything in you're power to survive, even if it's unethical it has to be done to ensure the survival of you're business in both the present and long run. It's capitalism at it's finest if you can claw you're way to the top of the scrap heap you still must ensure you stay the king for as long as possible.

I would suggest you look at marketing strategies like product, placement, promotion and price. Look at companies like Apple and Microsoft and think of a way to emulate them, but still stand out against other competitors. Sometimes it means giving out freebies and promotions.
Whatever it takes to win unfortunately in this day and age.

posted on Apr, 2 2014 @ 08:55 AM
reply to post by Destinyone

i was slightly impressed by that response.. positive, concise, etc

you said something about not understanding where the rant came from?
from what i can put together here, the OP specifically used the word 'art' in the title
and has said this;

Today they want a fully-interactive website with games, quizzes, downloadables, graphics and dozens and dozens of pages of content discussing your product from every conceivable angle.

all of this could be said to be intangible
when i first came to respond i also picked up on what you seem to have picked up on (i was going to ask the OP if their music demo was rejected, hehe) but... i can also see where the OP came from (and decided to lean that way)

i like how you described your process, (but) your business is tangible things; soap and etc
one needs capital to start that (that's where OP blurs the lines, i think?)
you must've had some small monies behind you to get yourself started (or got a loan)

the OP present the matter from the perspective of a talented person who already owns an electric guitar and amplifier..
in that sense, the capital is already there..
why can't i get my demo album out to the people? he seems to be asking? (or at least this is the way i'm seeing it)

from what i can see here, the OP is asking a valid question and making a valid observation?
why are the masses so mindfu_ked?
but what can be said of the children being led by the pied piper?

i'll leave it at that.. maybe the OP will expand on it (or not)

i was curious to see your logo?

posted on Apr, 2 2014 @ 11:18 AM
reply to post by UNIT76

Thank you for the reply, and the clarification on the OP's musician in the marketplace point of view. Not being a musician attempting to make money off of musical talent, I could only relate from my personal experience. I can see in what you said, his frustration.

I was involved in promoting musicians a long long time ago in my much younger years. It is a much different market now with all the new avenues to promote intangibles, like utoob, social media, and direct marketing email lists to get one's music out. It takes time to gather a following, and one needs to target the folk who are most likely to jump on board with the genre of music one is promoting.

If one is looking to make a big splash with an intangible, getting it into the hands of key people who make it their business to target that market for you, is the way to go. That can be costly.

You asked about my logo. This is it on my product labels. Variations in size of the same, are used on letterhead, business cards, and all online invoicing/shipping digitally embedded in in anything used online.

Not a great pic, but it shows.


posted on Apr, 2 2014 @ 12:20 PM
reply to post by Destinyone

ah sweet (succinct) 'the musician in the marketplace' (..thanks, you've got a better grasp of this than i claimed to, hehe)

i somehow knew there'd be esoteric components in that logo

fwiw, i wish you every success, "give the people what they want"
now.. just what is it the people actually want, exactly?
..i don't think they even know that

Not a great pic, but it shows.

they are beautiful, it feels as though a lot of love goes into your work
i know people are looking for that, amongst other things

edit on 2-4-2014 by UNIT76 because: forgot my manners

posted on Apr, 2 2014 @ 12:28 PM
reply to post by UNIT76

You are correct. Give the people what they want. With my little business, I cater to people who want to have better soft healthy skin. It takes a lot of research into the properties of the natural ingredients used to make products. Following this line of thinking, got me into owning a herd of pygmy goats for the wonderful properties of goat milk in skin care.

I didn't start out wanting to be a goat mommy...but now I am.

I wish the OP would come back for ideas on helping to promote them.


posted on Apr, 2 2014 @ 12:32 PM
reply to post by Destinyone

a persons favouite subject is themself.. he'll be back

PMSL @ 'goat-mommy'

..i wish i could star that twice

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