Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian on how artists can capitalize on the internet
Photo by Mark Vancleave
Alexis Ohanian, who co-founded Reddit when he was just out of college, is stopping by the Walker Art Center this Thursday to talk about new opportunities for artists in the internet age. Conde Nast Publications acquired Reddit in 2006, and the site currently is independently run. Ohanian, who has been a vocal defender of net neutrality, published a book last fall, Without Their Permission: How the 21st Century Will Be Made Not Managed, exploring his own story and stressing the importance of keeping the internet free.
Before his visit, we chatted with Ohanian on how artists can get paid through the new technologies that the internet offers.
Without Their Permission: How the 21st Century Will Be Made Not Managed
Why do you think it's important for artists to have a mindset of being able to startup their own company or business?
And I want better art in the world. I want more artists to be able to make a living creating their work, and I think platforms online are helping do that right now.
Image by Tanya Kechichian
What they've realized is, as their images get shared and spread, they're building a reputation and a brand that they can capitalize on in a different way. They have built their entire careers knowing that. They are giving away content for free that they want to be shared as art, because the way they are going to get money is that they're going to say, 'Hey, thank you for supporting me. Here are a bunch of ways to do that.' Whether it's through merchandising, which is nothing new, or whether its something radically different, like a site called Patreon.
You know how patrons of the arts used to be millionaires or rich people in a church? Michelangelo couldn't paint the Sistine Chapel without a patron. The internet lets us distribute that, so people can become patrons for a dollar a month or five dollars a month. And by pledging that money, they're now guaranteed a stable, steady source of income. So someone like Zach Weiner of SMBC now has 2,500 patrons of his site and he is making over $7,000 per month just in regular cash flow. If the arts are going to succeed, they are also going to concede that in many cases, piracy is one of the greatest ways to build an audience.
IF YOU GO:
7 p.m. Thursday, January 9
Walker Art Center
Get the Arts & Culture Newsletter
Find out about arts and culture events in Minneapolis & St. Paul and offers you won't hear about anywhere else.