Creatives are Kaput

By Bruce Firestone | Uncategorized

Feb 12

I spoke with a futurist yesterday (Sylvain Rochon from Stratdgi), and he said that creative people are done, finished, kaput. Why? Because marginal revenues (MR) eventually reach marginal costs (MC) and, in a digital world, the MC of delivery of IP (intellectual property) always approaches zero. Always.


The multi-talented, handsome singer-songwriter Aloe Blacc says, “Avicii’s release ‘Wake Me Up!’ that I co-wrote and sing, for example, was the most streamed song in Spotify history and the 13th most played song on Pandora since its release in 2013, with more than 168 million streams in the US. And yet, that yielded only $12,359 in Pandora domestic royalties— which were then split among three songwriters and our publishers. In return for co-writing a major hit song, I’ve earned less than $4,000 domestically from the largest digital music service.” You can read more of his comments at


Now if Mr Blacc can’t earn a living from his creative arts (at least from the  songwriting, singing and publishing side of his art) then what hope is there for you or me?

I understand that 2.4 million self published works were uploaded to Amazon in the US alone in 2013. Average sales from these works? Less than 20 copies, I am told.

Sylvain predicts not only the end of music and writing industries as we know them, but also manufacturing and merchandising. He feels that within ten years, 3-d printing together with unlimited online availability of free industrial designs will finish them as home 3-d printers replace stores and factories.

Coming from a real estate background, I conclude that if you own shopping plazas or office buildings (already being finished off by home computing and the Internet) or, for that matter, industrial buildings, it may be time to unload them or not build any more. I believe industrial buildings will be the last to go.

I like to write ( but unless you are JK Rowling, you have to find some other way to keep body and soul together, and support your famdamily. For me that’s being a real estate broker, coach, teacher, consultant and keynote speaker.

In the music industry, there is one–count them–one artist whom currently makes a living solely by writing and signing her tunes. That is Taylor Swift, and she had to pull her catalogue from Spotify before she could sell any decent numbers of her latest album, 1989.


I have launched a Patreon campaign to help me spend more time writing. Friends, fans and followers can contribute as little as $3 per month but why should they? If they wait long enough, my upcoming book on the founding of the modern-era Ottawa Senators will be out, and maybe they can find a pirated copy somewhere online for free. Or my real estate handbook or the novel I am planning about the worldwide NIMBY (not in my backyard) phenomenon.


But if people really value creative work, they will find ways to support artists they like. Otherwise, the only people who will be able to add to the amazing body of work that humanity has so far amassed will be rich folks, people who can afford the two years it takes to write a quality novel or design the next amazing clothing line or create another Sistine Chapel. 

Michelangelo started work on the ceiling of the chapel shown above in July 1508 and finished his frescoes in October 1512. If he did not have the patronage of pope Julius II (ie, financial and emotional support), Michelangelo could not have spent four years on this, and we would all be the poorer for it.

@ profbruce @ quantum_entity

Comment by Sylvain Rochon, co-founder of

The main culprits for this implosion of compensation for creatives
are:  accessible technology and the willingness of people to provide
content for free to others, either through illegal means or what is called the
“open source movement”. 

The availability of free content significantly reduces the
income potential of any artist who wishes to publish works that can be seen or
consumed via the Internet.

This does not mean people aren’t willing to spend money for
creative works, it only means that people aren’t forced to pay
for creative works.  

I consume great amounts of creative works for free.  But
when I find something that I really care about, I always throw some cash in to
support that particular author, and hopefully get more pleasurable works out of
him/her in the future.  Most people think this is quite fair and naturally
behave in this fashion.

 The disappearance of the professional artist as we know it
is only the beginning… tangible items will soon become readily available for
free as well (thank you 3-d printing) and soon pretty much any tangible object
from pens to cars and computers could be produced in people’s homes, using
literally a household’s waste and air.

The economy as we know it will fail.

First to go will be the dollar shop stores who sell mundane items. 
Then more stores that offer more complex items with moving parts or that
contain multiple material types (metals and plastics for example) will go, leaving
brick and mortar commercial spaces empty.  3-d model files with
instructions on materials to feed your 3-d printer for these items will be
available (mostly for free) via the Internet.  Creators and contributors
will try to make money from their designs and industrial partners will attempt
to make money by supplying raw materials feeding 3-d printers.  In a short
time, they will also fail as there will be too much free stuff and recycled materials
available to sustain anyone.

No one really knows what the future holds, but I am sure the
economy as we know it, will be replaced by something else, which will allow us
all to have our basic needs met. Beyond that, what will happen to the world’s
fantastic contributors is unknown.

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About the Author

Bruce is an entrepreneur/real estate broker/developer/coach/urban guru/keynote speaker/Sens founder/novelist/columnist/peerless husband/dad.