Subscribe via Email
Enter your email address to subscribe to Butts In The Seats and receive notifications of new posts by email.
In the morning when I look at all the Twitter streams I follow, I often click interesting looking links and then come back to the web pages when I am done with all the new tweets. The result is often a long series of tabs on the Firefox browser and often I don’t quite know who suggested what story when I get around to reading it.
Since most of those I follow have an association with arts and culture, you might understand why I initially thought the blog post I was reading was on that subject. It wasn’t until I got to the sixth point that I had any inkling it was on another industry altogether and the eleventh before I was sure.
RULES FOR BUSINESS MODELS
* Tradition is not a business model. The past is no longer a reliable guide to future success.
* “Should” is not a business model. You can say that people “should” pay for your product but they will only if they find value in it.
* “I want to” is not a business model. My entrepreneurial students often start with what they want to do. I tell them, no one — except possibly their mothers — gives a damn what they *want* to do.
* Virtue is not a business model. Just because you do good does not mean you deserve to be paid for it.
* Business models are not made of entitlements and emotions. They are made of hard economics. Money has no heart.
* Begging is not a business model. It’s lazy to think that foundations and contributions can solve news’ problems. There isn’t enough money there. (Foundation friend to provide figures here.)
* There is no free lunch. Government money comes with strings.
* No one cares what you spent. Arguing that news costs a lot is irrelevant to the market.
* The only thing that matters to the market is value. What is your service worth to the public?
* Value is determined by need. What problem do you solve?
These sentiments are actually about news delivery and found on Jeff Jarvis’ BuzzMachine blog. For awhile there I thought an arts blogger was replicating Adam Thurman’s posting style on Mission Paradox. I had to go back to my Twitter account to try to figure out where the heck I got this link, finally discovering it was the Artful Manager, Andrew Taylor.
Honestly now, if I hadn’t alluded to the fact it wasn’t about non-profit arts and cultural organizations, would you have known it wasn’t? Every point made is a topic of conversation that has come up regarding the arts. Hopefully, they are conversations you have had at least with yourself, if not the staff and board of your organization.
The fact that news organizations are facing these same questions is of some comfort–at least we know the arts are not alone in the challenges being faced.
At the same time, the fact these questions can be asked of the news industry only serves to confirm their wider relevance. These are questions any business must ask. The arts are not special in this regard.
As much as I feel my practical side provides a good balance to my idealism, it is tough to think about the arts not being the exception. Every time I scroll up to re-read these points and see “Virtue is not a business model,” and “Business models are not made of entitlements and emotions,” there is a part of me that says, “Yes, but the arts are different.” In many respects this is true, but the arts in the U.S. operate in an environment where what is written above is also true to a great degree and must be acknowledged.
Rather than try to talk all of us out of our belief in the sublime experience the arts can bring to every day existence, I will merely stress the need to be mindful of the aforementioned truths and not allow our aforementioned belief in the power of the arts to dismiss the stark reality they represent.