'Her Morning Elegance' Artists Create Elegant Reason To Buy

from the use-the-unlimited-resource-to-sell-the-limited-resource dept

In 2009, Oren Lavie shared this beautiful stop-motion animated video for his song Her Morning Elegance:

So far it’s been viewed over 16 million times on Youtube. How does an artist convert all of that popularity into cash? In this case, by offering a limited edition of ONE print of every single frame of the movie, signed and numbered, for sale. According to the gallery website, 335 prints have sold so far, leaving 1761 available out of 2096 total. The earlier a collector buys a print, the wider the choice of images are available to them. From the site:

Her Morning Elegance music video has become a Pop Culture phenomena and the most successful stop motion video ever, nominated for the 52nd Grammy Awards.
It was assembled from 2096 still photographs that were shot and sequenced to create the sense of movement.

After going from stills to motion the artists have decided to break the video down into its original photographs, printed in physical form and exhibited in galleries worldwide. Today you can own one of these prints and have a fraction of the video itself in your home.

These single edition signed and numbered photographs are offered directly by the artists. We invite you to visit to the gallery and choose your favorite.

Like the video, this model is elegant in its simplicity. Clearly something like this will only work for a very popular video. But I’ve heard complaints that “popularity means nothing” if a work is free – this shows that isn’t true. Another thing I like about this business model is it gives purchasers a very strong connection to the work. It’s CwF + RtB at the same time.

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Comments on “'Her Morning Elegance' Artists Create Elegant Reason To Buy”

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Nina Paley (profile) says:

Re: Germany

“Sita Sings the Blues” is apparently banned in Germany’s youtube, too. Apparently some corporation is filing fake takedowns in Germany. Sad. In “Sita’s” case it’s Sony, who has no copyright over the Hanshaw recordings in Germany, but gets to censor whatever they like anyway. PITA to get it fixed though – QuestionCopyright.org is trying to get a legal intern to work on it.

Anonymous Coward says:

So far $87,000 dollars in for a video that probably cost that much to design, layout, and actually make, not to consider the cost in time and effort by the musician to create the music. We won’t even discuss the costs of producing the prints and the time and effort required to sign and number them.

Net, the artist probably would have been better off working at Starbucks.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: ONLY $87,000

Economics is the important unlying point of the TD post. You know, “from the use-the-unlimited-resource-to-sell-the-limited-resource dept”. The key question here is the developing of a business model to support the art.

But there is so much here that shows it really isn’t working. The video is from 2009, and while Grammy nominated, that was for last year. That buzz is already gone away. In all of that, 16 million online views, the grammy nomination, and all that comes with it, they were able to generate $87,000 gross and likely less than half of that net in 2 years. Further, and this is key, considering that 2000+ prints were made and only 335 sold, I am guessing that the net so far is close to zero, because they are barely made it up to their costs.

As business models go, it isn’t even successful on a level similar to minimum wage. As an idea, it is sort of cute and interesting, but it shows that 16 million views on youtube hasn’t really turned into anything important on the bottom line.

Berenerd (profile) says:

Re: Re: ONLY $87,000

Show me a long lasting (legitimate) company would made a profit in it’s first year. in the first 2 year? 3? 4? 5? Anyone who starts a business knows you wont make a profit the first year and very few see a profit the second year. the only companies I saw make any real profit within the first year died out quickly (within 2-3 years) because their business model was set to burn the company out quickly.

now I state this because this is in the terms you are working with. Do I feel creating art is the same as running a business? Not really. To make money off your art, yes a little. I think they are doing it right.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: ONLY $87,000

We are discussing the business of art, the ability for an artist to make enough money from their art to keep making art, rather than having to work some other job.

It is hard to compare an artists actions to a “normal” business, because the models are different. The artist’s actions are immediate and them completed, and for the most part subject to the long tail effect is very short order. That is to say that the vast majority of commercial activity around an artists work is typically when it is first released, not years later (at least until they die). Long tail would suggest that the public’s interest in this particular work has already waned, that the prime time for sales related to the work is already gone past.

A normal business (say a store) continued to stock new merchandise and continues to offer people a reason to come in, looking for the new stuff as well as old.

At this point, there is little indication that there is any profit from the venture, rather a low sales number, a large inventory of unsold work, and a prime market that is long since past it’s time. TD’s main man can explain to you the basic supply and demand issue that is at work here, the demand is way lower than supply, effectively rending the works without market price, because there are too many available compared to demand. Had the artist made only 100 piece available, they would be sold out and likely at much higher prices – profitable. Instead, the market is flooded and demand isn’t there to absorb it. Those who bought the pieces can only hope that the other 1700 or so plates are destroyed, in order to have some sort of market price for their overpriced “art”.

So no matter what, the basic rules of business apply.

azuravian (profile) says:

Re: Re: ONLY $87,000

Multiple other factors seem to be left out here. First, the article mentions that the prints are displayed in galleries worldwide. I’m not an art gallery expert, but I would assume they usually pay an artist for this. Second, you are discounting any extra income that may have been generated by the video itself, such as increased record sales (which I’m aware are unlimited) and increased tickets/prices for performances. Most artists spend however much they feel necessary for producing a music video with no hope of making that money back directly. The hope is that the video increases awareness. In this case, it not only did that, but the artist was able to turn the video directly into extra income.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: ONLY $87,000

Gallery showings are often done in the reverse, you pay to get the art pieces to the gallery, you price them, and the gallery displays them. If they sell a piece, they get a cut of the sale price (in some cases up to 50% for lesser known artists). They are essentially risk or consignment placements.

Art for art’s sake is a nice thing, and everyone supports it. But this is being put forward as a business model to support art, and it really doesn’t appear to pass the sniff test.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: ONLY $87,000

But that is only true if that where the story ends. You’ll have to ask Oren Lavie if he feels it was a wasted effort, but I would wager that some of the people who saw that video in 2009 are industry people who have him on their list of artists they would like to work with.

He may fall off the public radar, but the industry remembers these things.

You also seem to be missing the compulsive nature of many artists. This guy would probably be making art, even if he never saw a dime from it.

Ron Rezendes (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 ONLY $87,000

I think you’ve run too fast into the forest and bumped your head on a tree!

Aside from the already completed sales I believe that there is also a marketing value in having your art on display in various venues which you don’t seem to be willing to accept in your “bottom line” analysis. The sales (you claim) are from a window of opportunity that has already closed however you offer no support for this claim and seem to ignore all other factors such as: “When did these sales start?” – if it was a week ago that $87k looks like a great start, even if it was six months ago it’s a nice bump to the revenue stream – but you only state the fact that the video is from last year. How very short sighted of you.

“It may or may not be worth it to the artist in some non-monetary way, but as a business model (which is what is being discussed here) it doesn’t appear to be a money maker.”

Wow – REALLY? Where did you get the idea that this is the sole focus and business plan for this artist? Do you not understand this is merely one project and not a be all end all business strategy?

Your myopic views and narrow-mindedness are one of the main problems artists are dealing with these days when the old school media companies try to bottom line every project on a stand alone basis, rather than view the ever increasing music/art market that doesn’t necessarily care if the gatekeeper EVER gets paid for not actually having the talent to produce something.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:3 ONLY $87,000

Ron, the video (and the still for it) were produced in 2009 or earlier. The video received it’s Grammy nomination for last year. We are talking about an older project here.

If the artist is only releasing the images now, they probably long since missed the boat on this one (explaining low sales).

Just as importantly, they have produced all of the images (and signed and numbered them, which itself is work), and now would be storing, warehousing, or perhaps lending some of the images out to other galleries.

$87,000 is nice. It probably pays for the prints, or just about.

It isn’t narrow-mindedness that is an issue, it is looking at a business model and not seeing any success in it. Holding it up as a great model of cwf/rtb is laughable, because if there was truly huge demand after 16 million youtube views, all of the images would be gone.

That isn’t the case.

If you did this in any other business and had 70% unsold inventory, you would look like a fool (and you would be going out of business).

Shawn (profile) says:

Another movie did the same thing

An Australian Horror film called The Tunnel did the same thing where they sold each frame of the film to make a handsome profit and are now releasing the film through torrents everywhere in 2011. Their poster even includes the name of everyone who paid the $1 to get a frame of the movie they made. It was a genius way to fund a film honestly.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

How do more restritive copyright laws help reduce filesharing?

Oh that’s right, they don’t.

What you seem to miss is that finding ways to make money in a world were people can and will freely copy it is now a requirement for anyone who wants to profit from their artwork. No amoumt of preaching or lobbying will change the reality of the marketplace.

That’s what these posts are about, helping people find solutions that help them adapt to the reality instead of just complaining about what they can’t change.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

“There has grown in the minds of certain groups in this country the idea that just because a man or corporation has made a profit out of the public for a number of years, the government and the courts are charged with guaranteeing such a profit in the future, even in the face of changing circumstances and contrary to public interest. This strange doctrine is supported by neither statute or common law. Neither corporations or individuals have the right to come into court and ask that the clock of history be stopped, or turned back.” – Robert A. Heinlein, Life-Line, 1939

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

You mean the “changes” where the Music And Film Industry Assocations of America keep doing the same anti-piracy measures that keep on failing over and over again every single time they’re tried? Or are they going for the effective measures that are highly unconstitutional police state policies? Ain’t gonna happen.

And even if the landscape does someday change, why not prepare artists for the possibility that it won’t change? Why not give them ways to make money in the meantime?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

Except gun and speeding laws do not require monitoring of all private communication and gimping of the internet to work right. You can’t realistically expect to effectivly monitor who is doing what with a piece of data without being able to see everything they transmit both online and off. Hell, we already have cases where there was difficulty telling infringing from non infringing even when the transmission is public. So tell me, how do you think that copyright could be enforced effectivaly while not invading privacy?

P.S. I recall a study or two about speeding laws saying they didn’t really affect whether people actually speed or not. Can’t remember it off the top of my head so I’m not sure how credable the studies were, but since you mentioned speeding….

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:6 Re:

There is already DPI for numerous things at most ISPs.

I’m refering to entertainment content.
If you think that will be able to reliably detect infringement

I’m rather surprised that you think tech is all of the sudden limited in what it is capable of. You apparently forgot that while it has thus far it has worked in favor of pirates, it can just as easily be used against them. Whoops.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:7 Re:

You seem to forget that while technology has made huge leaps it has very real limitations on what it can realistically assist it’s users in doing. Especailly when others have a vested interest in countering those advances and you’re dealing with mass amounts of users and content.

And the metion of dpi being currenty in use was more of a technical correction than anything. But come on, dpi is already used for censorship and even then it isn’t able to keep the cat fully in the bag.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:8 Re:

No one is trying to keep ” the cat fully in the bag”. Not now, not back before the internet was invented and people bootlegged records.

The idea is that the problem was way out of control due to lack of enforcement; regulation is always slow to catch up when big technological advances occur. That had to change and that’s exactly what is happening.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:9 Re:

The problem is that tech regulation is so often done by clueless people. Case and point: a lot of the “takedowns” of infringing sites don’t really do anything to stop anyone from getting to the sites, they just revoke the domain name. It’s the difference between entering a name and a number.

So basically by “not fully able to keep the cat in the bag” I mean “not stopping people who actually want to download crap illegally”

Also, companies like microsoft have expressed a vested interest in not stopping piracy of their operating system because if the price of windows rises so does the incentive to look for cheaper alternatives and thus removes a good deal of future revenue when the “pirates” go legal. And they’re right to worry; Linux for example is a free OS that is rock solid enough that a lot of businesses use it for mission critical systems and as a componet of consumer electronices. (more interesting is that they will pay for such things as tech support and coding work on the kernal, making this an example of programmers who actually make money from a freely copyable product)

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:11 Re:

What is your evidence for this belief? This is the same old song and dance that’s been happening for years and here we are, with piracy still alive and kicking. If you truely understood just how many works exist and the complex issues involved in sorting that all out in the context of the massive volume of filesharing/streaming video/download sites you’d see that this is something that won’t be resolved anytime soon. Sure, sometime in the future it may be figured out but for now it’s blatently clear that the ones looking to enforce copyright still don’t truely grasp the size and scope of the issue they’re trying to tackle.

And again, ending piracy may not bee holy grail you think it is. One thing that you need to realize is that if you remove the illegal downloads from the interwebs those who can’t afford to buy all the media they want won’t magically be able to come up with the money for it and those who just plain want free music/software/other will just have to get it through legal means or through the “darknet”

The upside to all this is if they did stop all illegal downloading they’d finally understand that having their copyrights infringed is not the same thing as having stuff stolen from them.

Anonymous Coward says:

Artificial scarcity

That business model is still based on artificial scarcity.

They are making 2096 different signed and numbered prints, exactly one copy of each. The scarcity here is that, even if you copy one of them, the copy is not one of the 2096 originals.

But nothing prevented them from creating two or even ten signed and numbered copies of them. The scarcity exists only because they decided that they would only print them (in that “signed and numbered” format) once. It is not a natural property of the work itself.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Artificial scarcity

Scarcity is only an issue when there is sufficient demand to absorb the production. Otherwise, it is just over production.

If all 2096 were sold and there was a thriving secondary market trading in these images, they might have something. But instead, they have massive over production and a lack of demand. Even Mike Masnick can tell you what happens when you have over production.

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