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As remarked previously, a really intriguing paper that helped me a lot during my studies of artist-entrepreneurship. What I am questioning is the assumed contradiction between the artist's taste and popular tastes. You write: "Artistic products tend to fit into moneymaking popular culture genres when shareholders have a strong influence on the final product, and tend more towards the avant-garde when shareholders are absent or have little influence.” The ownership structure in conjunction with the cost structure explains why music released through major labels tends to fit into popular genres. But the argumentum e contrario is not really understandable for me. Why should systems without the influence of shareholders and low fixed costs produce avant-garde or less commercial music? Only because they can? Such a view assumes that artists intrinsically dislike popular tastes that appeal to large audiences. Maybe some artists simply have a popular taste, which matches the mainstream. Or they derive utility from being popular. In other words, the question whether Justin Bieber likes his own music or not, should not be implicitly answered by the fact that his music is released through a major label.
The complex relationship between the 'vision' of the artist and the popularity with a target audience seems particularly apropos of the fashion industry – where specific designers become popular, and are given start-up capital _because_ they best represent or capture the current trends that are popular with the targeted public. Like film production, fashion design is capital intensive. I've always enjoyed the ironic paradox that the richest societies that give the most rewards to the avant-garde. This points to how disposable income will lead to fast turnover in fashion trends. I'd be curious to know how some of the economically disruptive forces of a digital economy might effect this split between popular and avant-garde art. The artist 'Banksy' seems to exploit this with impunity and for comedic effect. How will the falling price of reproducibility (e.g. 3-D printing) effect both high and low art, as well as the fashion industry?
(Tellingly, the example used in the video for avant-garde, Paik's "TV Cello" and "TV Bra" are now prized possessions of 'high art' institutions – and coincidentally on display in Washington, DC http://americanart.si.edu/paik/ )
Since "low culture" is so much more visible, isn't it likely that it's bound to attract a greater diversity of personality types, and perhaps self select for people who are LESS averse to the market? I have a hard time imagining the same people who want to be film producers are the same types who want to be painters.
I'm not sure if Michael Bay and Roland Emmerich are staunch communists.