Corporate Leadership, LinkedIn Series

Creative Accounting – The Digital Economy’s Impact on Artists

Reposted from Dan Hesse's LinkedIn series on Executive Leadership and Corporate Responsibility. The following was published August 23, 2015.


Today’s New York Times magazine includes a thoughtful article, The Creative Apocalypse That Wasn’t by Steven Johnson. The article examines how the digital economy (I like the term “Gig Business” Johnson used) is changing the way creative people make their livings, whether it be in recording music, writing books or making movies.

This analysis is part of an important, ongoing conversation about the digital economy and its impact on artists and musicians. The business practices of this new economy affect many elements in our lives. I focused on the changes to music in this year’s New York Global Leaders Dialogue keynote and during the National Music Publishers Association 2014 meeting keynote with CTIA CEO Meredith Baker and NMPA CEO David Israelite.

Johnson’s New York Times piece reviews the plusses and the minuses created by the new digital economy with respect to artists, concluding that the impact, overall, is neither good or bad, it simply represents significant change.  The analysis is at a macro-level, though.  Free music isn't free.  There are individuals, and elements of the music industry, like song writers and music publishers, for example, that may be harmed in my view.

Johnson uses revenue data and employment statistics to challenge some widely-held views.  I would expect those with another point of view could use data to reach a different conclusion.  For those of you interested in how the digital economy is impacting the lives and livelihoods of artists, this article is a very worthwhile read.  The arts are so important to our way of life, it's a subject we should care about.

The Creative Apocalypse That Wasn’t

Steven Johnson - New York Times Magazine – August 23, 2015