Outsourcing art

Everyone freely concedes that globalization has affected a lot of manufacturing type jobs in 1st world countries. Companies can pay people to assemble widgets in China or Indonesia for a much smaller paycheck then they would in the U.S. or Europe. Customer phone support is another job that has been famously outsourced to places like India.

Years ago I began wondering if creative arts, especially music, would be hit with a similar drag on paychecks because of outsourcing. I was thinking of a scenario where someone might be recording a song in some Hollywood studio. These producers need a killer guitar solo but instead of calling up some Santa Monica hotshot who gets 500$ an hour, they peruse a web directory and find a guitar wiz in China. They pay him 20 bucks (which for him is the equivalent of a thousand) and deliver a hit tune to Ke$ha.

Obviously I don’t think has happened yet. But I just saw something interesting. AudioJungle is a web site that offers music for sale, usually aimed at corporate presentations and videos (I’ve submitted a few tunes.) On a page discussing the successes of some of their members they note:

In some parts of the world, the money you can make on the marketplaces far exceeds what you can make in a normal job. Countries mentioned include Indonesia, India and even Italy.

My suspicion has long been that artistic and creative jobs – often presumed to be above the paycheck minimizing effects of technological innovation and globalization – will be shown to be no more secure than factory or phone support jobs. And artists and musicians will roam the streets hungry and destitute, begging for alms.

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