• The Death of the Artist

  • How Creators Are Struggling to Survive in the Age of Billionaires and Big Tech
  • By: William Deresiewicz
  • Narrated by: Sean Patrick Hopkin
  • Length: 13 hrs and 55 mins
  • 4.7 out of 5 stars (85 ratings)

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The Death of the Artist

By: William Deresiewicz
Narrated by: Sean Patrick Hopkin
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Publisher's summary

A deeply researched warning about how the digital economy threatens artists' lives and work - the music, writing, and visual art that sustain our souls and societies - from an award-winning essayist and critic

There are two stories you hear about earning a living as an artist in the digital age. One comes from Silicon Valley. There's never been a better time to be an artist, it goes. If you've got a laptop, you've got a recording studio. If you've got an iPhone, you've got a movie camera. And if production is cheap, distribution is free: it's called the Internet. Everyone's an artist; just tap your creativity and put your stuff out there. 

The other comes from artists themselves. Sure, it goes, you can put your stuff out there, but who's going to pay you for it? Everyone is not an artist. Making art takes years of dedication, and that requires a means of support. If things don't change, a lot of art will cease to be sustainable. 

So which account is true? Since people are still making a living as artists today, how are they managing to do it? William Deresiewicz, a leading critic of the arts and of contemporary culture, set out to answer those questions. Based on interviews with artists of all kinds, The Death of the Artist argues that we are in the midst of an epochal transformation. If artists were artisans in the Renaissance, bohemians in the 19th century, and professionals in the 20th, a new paradigm is emerging in the digital age, one that is changing our fundamental ideas about the nature of art and the role of the artist in society.

A Macmillan Audio production from Henry Holt and Company 

©2020 William Deresiewicz (P)2020 Macmillan Audio

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Golden

This may be the first time I have a desire to read the same book twice. The book is mainly about arts and artists, but paints a broad picture of society, culture and economy with artists within it. As an engineer who cares deeply about arts, and often thinks about issues addressed in this book, I devoured it. But the book is for anyone who cares about arts and society - it’s beautifully written and very approachable. It is also mentally stimulating and helped me make some decisions about next career steps as a tech person in the fields of audio and music.

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must read for creatives (and everyone, really)

Bill Deresiewicz delivers a thoughtful-provoking, incredibly well-written work on what it means to work as a creative in the modern era. I think about this book every day as a consumer of art (which, we all are). It has 100% influenced the way I think about my own 'art', the advice I give to artists and those who are thinking about self-producing, and the way I talk about the consumption and devaluing of art with friends and professionals. Could not recommend this book more highly!!!!

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An eye opener for lovers of art literature & music

This is an excellent piece of reportage and criticism. telling a troubling story of what exploding technology and inequality has and is doing to our culture.

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Must read for anyone in the arts or entertainment

This book came around at just the right time in my life. I highly recommend this title. A must read for anyone looking a a career in the arts or for veterans in the business who are questioning their place in the arts. I love how Mr. Deresiewicz talks about the arts and entertainment fields through multiple lenses and gives readers a realistic view on what it means to be an artist in todays society. This is the stuff I wish they talked about in college when I was going off for a degree in theatre and fine art. I found myself agreeing with just about everything that was said in this book. He does a great job of challenging the reader to ask the deep questions about our lives as an artist and what it will take to change the arts business as a whole. The big take-away for me is that everyone needs to find their own unique path and relationship with the arts and to not feel guilty for taking that path.

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Essential and Enlightening!!!

Incredibly well researched book about the bleak state of the creator economy. Great interviews with actual artists who are actually living in this capitalist hellscape. After a decade of struggling to make money outside big tech and advertising it’s great to see the evidence of how hard it actually is. Silicon Valley has engineered the transfer of wealth from creators to distributors. Everyone needs to know how we are being exploited so we can move towards change!!!

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Expands opinions and feelings years in the making

A great read for any artist looking to learn more about where things are for all creative fields in the big tech era. Would also recommend to consumers who are looking to be informed and ethical in supporting and funding the arts in an impactful and efficient way. Demonetizing art is a huge issue and Deresiewicz does a great job of giving a broad view of how difficult it can be to be a professional artist in a time when the internet claims how easy it is to become an artist.

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The (grim) future of art

The first part is enlightening. The second one less so, but overall a must read.

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A groundbreaking survey of industrial collapse

Bill Deresiewicz weaves together a devastating story of the wide variety of different artistic professions that have been systematically targeted for destruction, and are then eaten alive by Big Tech, during this internet age. Anyone who has ever been or known an aspiring artist of any kind will probably find this book as cathartic a read as I did.

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A complete analysis of what creatives face today

A phenomenal work. Completely described my experiences and struggles as a writer and creator. Deresiewicz's previous book, Excellent Sheep, is a long-time favorite, and now I find myself recommending Death of the Artist to a whole new cadre of friends.

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A must read/listen for anyone involved in the arts


This is a must-read/listen for anyone who is even semi-seriously attempting to make a living as a musician / artist, who cares about anyone who is trying to do so, or who is even tangentially interested in the landscape or economic issues relating to such. This book, though both data analysis and testimonials, confirms many of the trends I've suspected, experienced, blogged about, podcasted about, and thought about constantly. It also contextualizes them in the broader landscape of the economy.

Additionally, this was written pre-covid, obviously, so if you think the title is hyperbolic, odds are that it's not hyperbolic enough. Makes a great suggestion for the next person who asks you to do something "for exposure"!

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