Serendipity!    About one month apart comes news of two different – and successful – approaches by artists intent to reach their publics direct, bypassing any agent, gallery owner, or other middleman.

I discovered the first on a plane back from Vienna in an article in The Economist  detailing  a two-day auction of artist Damien Hirst’s newest works.   (The article appeared  last month on the day Lehman Brothers collapsed.)  The experimental sale of   pieces by the artist well-known for various  works featuring a shark as icon, took place at Sotheby’s in London; it was preceded by  “unprecedented  public interest” in the week prior to the sale, with 21,000 visitors coming to view the sale preview in an eleven-day period.

The Hirst sale included at last one bidding war via telephone, and  netted an amazing total of 178 million dollars.   ( Damien Hirst  himself was not present at the first evening, understandably finding the occasion “too stressful”.  )

The second item is from today’s NY Times Magazine, titled Painting by Numbers.

Two art directors in the NY ad business,  have  web-based art enterprise which sells original works and began by selling to a targeted list of  folks who were their internet contacts.  The novelty here is that the artworks – minimal, ‘iconic’ in look -  each carry realistic price-tags, mostly quite low;  and the subject of each painting is a portrait of the thing the makers wish to buy with the proceeds of the sale.  Examples  of their works already sold:  bottle of aspirin;  plane ticket; hotel room for a night in Las Vegas; new bikini; good luck (this picture was free !).

Each of these enterprises appeals to a quite differentiated  group of buyers ( big bucks /   modest bucks).  Both appear to be successful.

What kind of lesson lurks here for composers — ?

“L’audace, toujours l’audace!”
– Georges Danton

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