Perhaps you have noticed how much more difficult it is to make a living being creative, than doing the same old thing that has been done forever. Perhaps it has always been this way. After all, who wants to pay someone, to do something they do not already know how to do. It is risky for the creator may never learn how to do it, or get a good result or have a market. Also it will probably take longer and cost more than expected, which anyone who has ever invested in a new direction quickly learns. On the other hand this where tomorrow comes from so it is exciting but you have to pay to play. If tomorrow is to be different from today, than someone has to pay for it with time or money, usually both, in addition to other things like emotionally, psychologically and psychically as well.
Fortunately, creative people do not like to keep doing what they already know how to do, they want to do new things. They get bored with too much repetition which is a prime reason they create, because they have to, certainly not because someone told them to. Since machines will be continuing to replace most repetitive work, as they cost less than people, it is a good thing that there are those among us, who do not want to do what is replaceable by machines. For if they do not continue to involuntarily create, humanity will be in big trouble.
Artists, innovators, entrepreneurs, and other nonlinear creative types have always had to sell their ideas in some form or another, in order to get funded, unless they already had the resources to pursue their dreams. This means they have needed to become s good at storytelling. No story means no stakeholders. In some way or another, creators benefit from patrons. Which could be feudal lords, the church, family, friends or even alumni associations,. anyone with the resources.
So far, this is probably not news to you, especially if you had to learn to tell stories and suffer the consequences or rewards. Sometimes story tellers are charming and funded, and sometimes investing parties feel burned. Both can happen at the same time! One size outcome does not fit all here. Here is a take on current conditions at the intersection of technology, the arts and customers (audiences).
Lets start with the market for usually they are precondition to get funded. Current audiences for culture, and lets focus on music for the moment, have decreasing attention spans. There are two very good reasons both technology driven, desire for diversity and convenience. The democratization of technology (meaning it cost little enough for everyone to have it) has provided for audiences nearly infinite choices and infinite convenience at the same time. If everyone has a 100 course smorgasbord available at every moment the attention given to any one course tends to shrink. So factor one is the market wants smaller units of excitation but lots of them so they can binge.
Now lets shift to the product, what is being offered and continue sticking to culture in general with music in particular. The barriers to entry to write and perform music are pretty low which has enabled tens of millions of amateur musicians out there. If only 1% of them want to attempt to be professionals and earn enough to live pursuing their art, there are hundreds of thousands of wanna be music professionals out there. The current prevalent success model seems simple; outperform everyone around you all of the time, and also be extremely lucky by finding a market. The act of creating a following takes a great deal of effort, time and money, and is therefore not very motivating to the hundreds of thousands considering this career path. One reason is it is too ego driven and not enough art driven.
Here is a potential solution, I have participated in for the last two years. Collaborate and cooperate instead of trying to outcompete everyone around you. Here is what we did, with the we being a bunch of night school students at Juilliard. Imagine a concert where instead of two or three works being performed, written by two or three composers, there were 25 pieces performed, supplied by ten composers. This drives huge changes. The length of the pieces is shorter permitting more different pieces and types of pieces to be performed. This addresses and provides for both the diversity smorgasbord and the shorter attentions which seem to characterize modern audiences. Theoretically, this is a better way to create a market.
And, by including ten composers instead of two or three, there are more hands available to share the work through a collaborative cooperating community, as well as a larger initial audience for ten people have more friends to invite, than two or three people. This makes a concert event far more likely to occur and far more likely to work.
I will save for another time, the discussion of how ubiquitous bandwidth will be dramatically impacting the delivery of intimate performances to larger audiences, becoming more fiscally viable.
The bottom line here is if you want to make it as an artist or by extension an inventor, you need to do things that require getting your ego out of the way. Become a better story teller, collaborate more, and put yourself in the audiences (customers) place.
What does the market want that you can deliver? How can you reduce required resources. Solve these two and create a viable business model which shrink competition from 500 thousand down to a manageable number – for how many people can collaborate and get their ego out of the way.