I Fought The Law

“Breaking rocks in, the hot sun….”

“I fought the law…..and the law won”.

The tune kept going round and round in my head. Ok, it was a cool song covered by Joe Strummer and the Clash, and ok, it took me back to those great days in 70’s London, but the reason for remembering this song right now, is that I’m on my way to jail!!

Now before everyone joins in with a chorus of “serves you right you criminal malcontent”, I will add that the jail is actually a dungeon – the famous London Dungeon – and I’m going there as a visitor!

This whole thing started when I was looking for a two day break in London at a nice hotel. I chanced upon superbreak and quickly spotted that they had an offer on for London breaks. Now, never one to miss out on a ‘freebie’ I surfed right on to the detail.

If I booked with superbreak I could select a free bonus – either a theatre ticket to a top show, a lunch or dinner at a great eatery or an admission to a selection of sights.

My eye was drawn, of course, to the latter and I remember frantically booking my break and bonus in case they ran out. In a trice though, I had a confirmation from Superbreak that my package was booked – I was in.

The London Dungeon is a massive complex underneath the streets of Southwark/London Bridge and gives a taste of medieval horror. It’s not a museum, as such, but an exhibition of the dark happenings of the past – a sort of haunted house for adults. Here you will find many torture and execution devices and recreations of vicious murders and royal executions. As you wander through the various galleries, the sense of oppression is markedly increased by the dank and dingy surroundings and the sound and lighting effects woven around each display.

By far, the best thing about the London Dungeon is that fact that you are not just a passive spectator. There are many participatory elements and here are some of the ones that I am most looking forward to:

The Boat Ride To Hell – A water boat ride in total darkness with shocking surprises en route.

Extremis – You are lead by a hooded hangman to that final drop…you feel the floor give way as you plummet downwards…

The Labyrinth Of The Lost – You must venture into a large mirrored maze, it is dark, the escape routes you see are mere mirages, only the bravest will survive!

As the days go by, I am more and more excited and eager to test myself against the coming darkness and lurking horrors; my thanks to superbreak for this excellent package, and should I not return, remember… I bravely fought the Dungeon… but the Dungeon won!

If a you fancy a London getaway like this one why not visit Superbreak.com [http://www.superbreak.com/promo/summerinthecity/summerinthecity.htm] and book yourself a well earned break!

The 5 Fundamental Laws of Creativity

Whatever your favourite ways of creating are, there are powerful principles that everyone who’s creative (and by that I mean everyone on the face of the planet) can be aware of to help them be as creative as they can possible be.

Here then are the 5 Fundamental Laws Of Creativity:

1. Ideas are the root of all creating. Everything we create begins with a spark of an idea. Creativity defined in its simplest terms is bringing stuff into being that wasn’t there before. That starts in the mind with a phrase, an image, a theory, or a melody.

Without any ideas, there’s nothing to build upon, no raw material to sculpt into beautiful shapes that will bring meaning to you and those who discover them. By having in place techniques for keeping a steady flow of ideas, you’ll always have plenty of starting points to create from.

2. Creativity is not just about making art. Most of the time when we say: “I’m just not creative”, what we’re REALLY saying is: “I haven’t written 3 novels this year” or “I haven’t painted 17 pictures and held an exhibition in a national gallery”. We have lofty expectations of what being creative means that deflate us before we even begin.

Creativity is not just making art. It’s a way of being, thinking, seeing and doing. You’re creative in how you tackle problems at work, how you decorate your home, how you develop your relationships, how you nurture your garden, how you organise social events, and a thousand other ways. Recognise every tiny creative act that makes up your thriving creative life.

3. Your beliefs define the limits of your creativity. You will only ever be as creative as you believe you can be. Your beliefs are a glass ceiling on your creative achievements, so if you don’t really believe you’re very creative, then your behaviour will mirror that, and yes, you won’t be very creative.

Take stock of all the beliefs you hold about creativity, and write them out on a sheet of paper. Think of beliefs about creativity in general, as well as about yourself and your abilities. Once you’ve written all you can think of, take a look through. Are these a collection of positive beliefs that will support you in creating to your full potential?

4. The more creative you are, the more creative you are. This law is simple – creativity breeds creativity. Being creative is all about flow, and as soon as you hit your stride in creating, it becomes so effortless you forget you’re even doing it. But, like rolling a giant snowball, it seems incredibly difficult to get that momentum started, especially if you haven’t created regularly for a while.

The key here is to create little and often. Setting aside just 15 minutes each and every day, and beginning with bite sized projects that aren’t going to completely overwhelm you, is a great way to start. As your creativity begins to flow, you can then gently increase the amount of time you spend each day, and the size and complexity of the projects.

5. Encouragement boosts your creativity to new levels. You can only be so creative on your own. If it feels like your forever creating in a huge vacuum and you don’t know if anyone knows you’re creating, let alone cares, then your creativity will grind to a standstill.

The answer is to get support from other creative people who relate to the kind of triumphs of struggles you experience in your own creative live, and can be there to encourage you as you go. These days it’s easier than ever to find groups and communities online and offline that can boost your creativity many times over.

Follow these 5 fundamental laws of creativity and you’ll set yourself up for a lifetime of flowing and abundant creating!

Pick one of the above that you feel you can enhance in your own life, and take the first step in boosting that specific area right away.

An Introductory Guide to the Copyright Law

Copyright is a legal concept created specifically to give the creators of an original piece of work exclusive rights to its ownership and usage. The term generally means “the right to copy”, but intentionally gives the copyright holder the right to be credited for the work. Ultimately, the copyright holder has the right to determine who may publicly broadcast the work, who may adapt the work to other forms, who may copy the work, and who may financially benefit from the work.

In order to qualify for copyright law protection the work must meet a minimal standard of originality. Although standards differ in different countries, the general requirements are quite low. The United Kingdom’s Copyright requirement states that there has to be some ‘Skill, labour, and judgement’ to be included in the work. Rather than being based on whether the piece of work is unique, the Copyright Law accepts the right of the original author on whether the work is an original creation instead. This specific point in the law enables two authors to own first copyright on two substantially identical works as long as the replication of the works is coincidental rather than intentionally copied.

The 1988 Copyright, Designs, and Patents Act states that Copyright ownership ensures several exclusive rights are given to the first copyright holder. If an original work is under copyright, it is an offence for an additional party to:

Adapt the work
To produce copies or reproductions of the work
Import or Export the work
Rent, lend, or issue copies of the work to the public
Perform, broadcast, or show the work publicly.

The phrase “exclusive right” means that only the copyright holder of the work is free to carry out the actions mentioned above. “Fair dealing” is a term which is used to describe the acts which are permitted to a certain degree without infringing the copyright protection of the work. Some “fair dealing” acts include:

Criticism and news reporting
Private and research study purposes
Copies, renting and lending by librarians
Performance, copies, or lending for educational purposes
“Time shifting”, a term referring to the recording of broadcasts for the purposes of viewing or listening to them at a more convenient time
Producing a personal back up copy of a computer program for personal use.

The 1988 Copyright, Designs and Patents Act states that the individual or collective who authored the work is usually referred to as the “first owner of copyright”. However, if the piece of work is produced as part of employment, the company which serves as the employer of the individual who created the work will be granted the first ownership. Commissioned or freelance work will usually remain to the author of the work, unless the contract for service states otherwise. Just like other assets, the initial copyright holder holds the right to transfer or sell the copyright of their work to another party. Besides selling the copyright, the holder can also, if they are a photographer for example, choose to enable their work to be released as copyright free images and legally enable other parties to use and broadcast the work.

Rights cannot to be claimed for any part of a piece of work which is a copy taken from a previous work, unless the work is stated to be copyright free. For example, if a piece of art features samples from a previous work, (unless the samples are granted to be copyright free images,) they will still be under the copyright laws with the original creator, which means the adapted piece of work will be classed as copyright infringement.

For a Wonderful Tattoo Experience

If you are all set to getting a tattoo art on your skin, selecting the right Tattoo parlor or a studio is the initial and the most critical step you need to take. Different states incorporate different laws that administrate the tattoo parlors. The most important issue is to check if the parlor you go to is licensed. This will make sure you will be taken care of if you encounter any kind of health problems or side effects due to tattooing.

For your tattooing experience to be a perfect one, you need to follow a few guidelines. You should always make sure the parlor you go to is well organized and clean. Because you cannot afford to go to unclean premises as they might cause skin infections and certain side effects which you must try avoiding. The studio MUST be EPA approved and the equipment should be well sterilized.

It is always better to check with local State-office and get as much information as you can and understand the rules and regulations. This will be of great help to you.

Another thing which would help you is trying to watch how the artist works on others tattoos. Go ahead with his services if you love his work. Remember this tattoo is something you were always dreaming about and you want it to be as perfect as it can be. Make sure his tattoo style suits your personality and style.

There are a few things in which you need to be extra particular; these are the most critical things which could make your tattoo experience wonderful if you give them all the importance they need.

Firstly they need to have an autoclave; this is a device where the tools are sterilized and only after this they use them on your skin. Using heat, steam and pressure they remove the harmful micro organisms, this process take one hour. You can also ask them to show their autoclave certificate to make sure you are safe.

Certain tools are called single use items like the ink cups, ink, gloves, needles etc. you must make sure they open the seal in front of you so that you know they are not using tools which are already used. This will lower chances of cross contamination.

If you put in some extra effort you can enjoy your tattoo experience. Therefore make sure you take necessary steps before you go ahead with the tattoo process and get the best out of it.

Get Tattooed!

Getting a tattoo can be one of those decisions that take an instant to decide, but a lifetime to regret. Quickly flipping through a binder at your local tattoo shop and making an impulsive decision could cause you to kick yourself later on. A tattoo should have a deep meaning to you. Something you will be proud to show off to your friends. Explaining the “meaning behind the ink” shouldn’t be an embarrassing moment that you will regret for years to come.

What You Must Do Before Getting Yourself Tattooed!

1. Research on the various types of tattoo design before heading to the tattoo studio

2. Select the colors and appropriate design that will match your skin tone, while still being able to grab attention and make you look attractive

3. Never ever rush into deciding the type of tattoo design and matching color scheme

4. Always hire a professional tattoo artist!

TattooMeNow Tattoo Gallery:

TattooMeNow is a biggest tattoo gallery featuring over 3,523 designs (and growing!) in 40 categories! All the designs are professionally designed with YOU in mind! Award winning artists constantly provides fresh new design for your every situation, from sexy to bold, tiny designs to full body artwork!

All the things above were created in order to make your ‘tattoo journey’ as fun and pleasant as possible and maximize your chances of getting that dream tattoo you will love for the rest of your life.

Can I Make Money Out of My Digital Photos?

Many ask this question. The answer is that most likely you can – but the amount of money you can make varies a lot and it depends on the uniqueness of your photos, their quality and your selling abilities. Here are a few hints and concepts when it comes to making money from your photos.

First of all you need to set expectations as to how much money you can make. This article is for readers that are looking to make some extra cash from their photos not looking to turn their photos into their main stream of cash. Such extra cash can be used for example to cover the spending on their photography hobby or selling photos can just be a fun experience.

One thing you can try to do with your photos is to sell them online. There are many websites that let you sell photos. The basic idea behind most of them is simple: they let you upload your photos, showcase them and set their prices. The site users can browse through your photos and purchase the ones they like. Addition features allow users to write comments about your photos. This is a fun way to get feedback from viewers and to connect to new people with the same interests as yours. Some of these sites are free to use and only collect a commission from the proceeds. Other sites charge a setup fee or a membership fee. Examples of such sites are: http://www.photostockplus.com and http://www.smugmug.com

In addition some sites allow you to set two prices: one is for a non exclusive right to use the photo – this is the price someone pays to download the photo and use it – while others can download the same photo and use it too. An exclusive price is usually much higher and means that once a user buys the exclusive usage rights for the photo you can not sell it to anyone else (or use it yourself). Once a photo is sold under the ‘non exclusive” option – it can not be exclusively purchased.

You can also decide to build your own website to either sell your photo on it or make money from advertisement on the site. If your photos are unique and can attract viewers you can create a blog or a site with your photos alongside with some text describing them and the story behind taking them. Spread the word about your site to your friends and family and post information about it in forums and chat boards. Once you generate traffic add advertisements to your site. To create your site you can use tools such as http://www.blogger.com and http://www.typepad.com. To place advertisements you can use advertisement syndication networks like http://www.google.com/adsense and publisher.yahoo.com.

Another more conventional method is to sell your photos in coffee shops and galleries. It requires more legwork and a more significant upfront investment. Print and frame a few of your best photos. Go to local galleries and try to convince them to showcase your photos. It is best to start with just a few prints to minimize both your risk and the risk the gallery takes. Another option which can work better for amateur photographers is to visit coffee shops and restaurants and convince them to hang the photos on their walls. It is very common today for such places to hang “photographs for sale” on their walls. This is a win-win option for both the coffee shop or restaurant and you. They get high quality free photos and provide their customers with an extra service buying photos that they really like. You get free exposure while most often only paying a commission from the proceeds.

Copyright is one issue you should consider when selling or posting your photos online. Copyright laws vary from state to state and country to country. Make sure that you check beforehand that you do have the rights to sell or post your photos online.

Making Some Extra Money With Your Digital Photos

Are you an amateur photographer? Do you enjoy taking digital photos? Do you have good quality digital photos to share with others? You can do that and also make some extra money from it. This article will show you how you can enjoy sharing your photography work and also get some cash at the same time.

This article is not about turning you into a professional photographer or about making your digital photos your main source of income. It will show you how you can share your digital photos with others and also make some extra cash at the same time. This money should be considered as extra income – usually a good source of cash to invest back into your digital photography hobby – maybe to buy a new camera, lenses, batteries or anything else that you need.

Photo stock websites: Photo stock websites are becoming more and more popular. Photo stock sites provide a market place for photographers to show off their work while others can view that work and buy it for a price usually set by the photographers. Some photo stock websites allow you to define the exact rights that you grant to the buyer so you can better protect your work. When users buy your digital photos you get a commission out of that money. There are many flavors of photo stock websites examples of two are: http://www.photostockplus.com and http://www.smugmug.com.

Your own photo gallery site: Putting a website together is relatively easy using some free commercial tools. For example you can easily set a photo album web site using tools from Yahoo. On your website you can allow users to browse and download full resolution digital photos for free or you can sell the high resolution versions of the digital photos. Implementing a shopping cart and collecting money is easily done using checkout tools from companies like PayPal, Yahoo and Google. Another option is to make money by placing advertisement on your site for example by using Google Adsense. Advertisement however will only generate noticeable revenues if you can attract a high number of visitors to your site. If your digital photos are unique and interesting you might be able to do just that. Another option is to create a dedicated Blog website – or to add a Blog to your digital photos website. You can easily do that with tools such as Blogger and Typepad. In the Blog you can present your digital photos and also write some interesting descriptions of how you took them, what is unique about them and anything else that might trigger the visitors’ interest. Tell your friends and family about your site and post information about it in forums and chat boards.

Work for hire: This is a more conservative and traditional option. You can offer your photography services by posting ads in local classifieds website or newspaper. If you have your own site you can also offer your services through that site or add a link to the site on your ads to allow potential customers to view your work. Make sure that you are candid and up front with your potential customers about what you do, your work and your experience. They should understand that you are an amateur photographer and view your work to decide if you are a good fit for their needs. To get a sense of how much to charge contact other local photographers and get quotes for their services. If you have never done photography for hire before it is a good advice to start with jobs that are not very important to the clients and that can be done again if the results are not satisfactory. For example shooting digital photos of a wedding is probably not a good idea to start with. Taking digital photos of someone’s car is a better option.

Coffee shops and galleries: It became trendy for coffee shops to hang local photographers or artists work on their walls. This is a win-win offering for them – they get free decoration for the shop and also allow customer to buy work that they like. The coffee shop gets a commission of each sale. Although this option requires more work and upfront financial investment it can be a lot of fun and a good way to connect with the local community. Walk around and find a few coffee shops or galleries that you would like to have your work at. Print and frame a few of your best photos and go back to those shops. Show your work and convince them to showcase it. It is best to start with just a few prints to minimize the risk.

These were just a few options to make some cash from your digital photos. There are other options and with some creativity you can find your own original ones. One thing to remember though is to make sure that you have the rights to sell your photos and that you are legally covered when showcasing them, selling them or working for hire taking photos for others. For example copyright laws change from state to state and country to country and you should make sure you have the rights for your digital photos.

Benefits of Washington Foreclosures and State Tax Lien Laws

The Foreclosure wave has left many properties vacant and ready to sell in the State of Washington. Washington foreclosures are available for a steal and therefore present great opportunities for those who are looking for affordable housing or a chance to repair and resell for a profit. There are several benefits of investing in the state of Washington.

Nearly 60% of resident stay in Seattle the centre of transportation, business and industry. It is also home to a world renowned artistic community. The 2007, Gross State Product was $ 311.5 billion, 14th in the nation. Per Capita income was 12th in the nation. Main industries in the state were manufacture of jet aircraft, development of computer software, bio technology, electronics, wood crafts tourism and mining. Washington is an ideal place to conduct business. Washington has 4 of the 20 most admired companies in America-Starbucks, Microsoft, Nordstorm and Costco.

Among its resident includes some of the wealthiest billionaires of America led by Microsoft founder Bill Gates. Washington is one among 7 states that does not levy personal income tax. It is a leading agricultural state too especially famous for its apples production. It has great cultural and recreational activities with several art galleries like the Bellevue museum. Several finance companies are headquartered in Seattle. It is also a transportation hub with good rail, road and port services. Seattle is the gateway to Asia and is home to fishing fleet and cruise lines.

Washington foreclosures are good chance to buy at moderate prices. Most counties hold annual auctions of Washington foreclosures. Many counties in USA sell tax liens to investors to recoup unpaid property taxes. The lien is a loan to the property owner. In Washington there are no sales of tax liens but there are annual tax foreclosure auctions. At these auctions the deed of the property is given to the highest bidder making Washington a tax deed state.

Any property that is delinquent on taxes for 3 years or more can be subject to auction at the tax foreclosure sale. The auction is held once each year and must be attended in person. Each Tax foreclosure property has a minimum bid that includes all past taxes and additional fines or fees. Once the property is sold the previous owner has no rights of redemption. Except for two cases when the owner is a minor or the owner was incapacitated at the time of auction. These two cases have up to 3 years of redemption.

All sales made at the auction are final and the winning bidders cannot get any refund. Washington law strongly recommends bidders to research the property before the auction.

Estate Liquidation – Pros and Cons of Tag Sales and Auctions

Executors faced with liquidating an estate’s personal property will quickly find that it is their most time-consuming administrative task. Executors who don’t perform their duties could be removed from office by the Probate Judge, so it is important that they single-mindedly pursue disposing of the estate’s property so that the bills can be paid and the estate settled.

What you’ll get from this article

Executors have three main liquidation options, and I will discuss the pros and cons of each in this article. Any company chosen to liquidate an estate should be vetted; I will tell you how to do this conscientiously, and I will also propose the best liquidation method. I assume that the twin liquidation goals of the Executor are to achieve the greatest cash benefit to the estate and to leave the house broom-clean so that it can be sold. Of course, there are ways to maximize the cash return for each type of sale, and I’ll tell you what they are.

Investing ten minutes into reading this article could save an Executor many hours of work.

Option 1: Have An Auction On-Site

Benefits of an On-Site Auction:

Auctioneers are very competitive lot. It should be an easy job for an executor to find an auction company willing to take the estate liquidation job, and commissions will be competitive. A strong argument for an on-site estate auction is that when the auction is over, there will be very little clean-up. If you like, the real estate can be auctioned as well, since auctioneers are licensed to auction the real estate and other titled property. In one day, the house, car, boat, RV, and all the household goods could be sold.

Negatives for an On-Site Auction:

Auctions are driven by competitive bidding. Consequently, it is necessary to have a lot of people at your auction. Big crowds require nice weather, plenty of parking, bathrooms, food, and refreshments to keep the people from leaving. Online bidding can be included to boost attendance, but it is the local crowd that builds excitement and drives the prices up. To attract a crowd, the estate must have collectibles and other quality goods. Run-of-the-mill goods that can be purchased at the local thrift store are insufficient to attract a good auction crowd.

Suggestions for an On-Site Auction:

If your estate has many large collectibles, like antique furniture or a piano, an on-site auction may be your best choice. Summer weekends, when the weather is warm and dry, are the best times to hold an on-site estate auction. The auction company you hire should be equipped with sound equipment, canopy tents, display tables, and plenty of help for fast checkout.

Option 2: Auction Gallery Consignment

Pros for Auction Gallery Consignment

If weather is a concern, you may want to consider consigning your items to an Auction Gallery. Consignments at an Auction Gallery are grouped according to the type of item in order to maximize turnout and get the best prices from their collectors. For example, there may be an auction dedicated to art and home decor, or musical instruments, or ceramics.

Cons for Auction Gallery Consignment

There are quite a few reasons for not consigning to an Auction Gallery. For starters, many Auction Galleries will take only the best items from the estate. Ninety percent of an estate is made up of items that are of little interest to the auctioneer, which leaves the Executor to deal with the remaining ninety percent of the estate property. Lastly, when an Auction Gallery spreads the merchandise out over several auctions, it can take months for all the items to sell, delaying the closing of the estate.

Tips for Auction Gallery Consignment

Before you consign to an Auction Gallery, ask the auctioneer how your merchandise will be distributed between auctions; get a guaranteed settlement date. You will also need a plan for disposing of all the remaining estate merchandise.

Option 3: Tag Sale On-Site

Pros for Tag Sale On-Site

Tag sales have several advantages over an on-site auction. For those that are not familiar with tag sales, the sale is held on the premises and in the house. Companies that specialize in tag sales are less common than auction companies. At a tag sale, everything in the house is priced, much like at a yard sale. Shoppers will browse through the house, and choose the items they wish to buy. When buyers arrive at the house, they take a number, and are admitted into the house when their number is called. Tag sales usually start on Friday evening and end Sunday evening, so there is no need to provide food or bathroom facilities. Tag sales can be held rain or shine and in any season

Cons for Tag Sale On-Site

The biggest disadvantage in hiring a tag sale company is that tag sale companies are not held to the same legal standards to which auction companies are held. Auctioneers and Realtors are bound by law to the estate by a fiduciary bond. A fiduciary relationship binds the agent by law to act at all times in the best interest of the estate. Fiduciaries are licensed by the state, must pass tests, be bonded, must hold all funds in an escrow account until distributed, and has to settle the account with the estate within a specific time frame.

Fiduciaries must also keep accurate records and follow certain protocols. Failure of a fiduciary to follow procedures can result in fines or loss of license. Tag sale companies are not held to the same legal standards, although they certainly have a moral obligation to the estate. Tag sale companies can handle the details of the sale and the distribution of the money any way they see fit.

Another problem with tag sales is that typically there is merchandise left over after the sale. Often, there is a LOT of merchandise left over. When a lot of items are left over, the executor then has a clean-out problem, because the house must be left “broom-clean” before a realtor will list the house for sale. Unlike an auction, where prices go up with each bid, tag sale shoppers want to negotiate a lower price for everything, which is not only time consuming but costs the estate money.

Tips for Tag Sale On-Site

When working with a tag sale company, read the contract thoroughly, make sure settlement dealines are included. the operator should have a solid pricing plan, adequate staff, and a solid track record.

What about Internet Sales and Retail consignment?

Internet sales work well for items that can be shipped easily, like small collectibles, books, and artwork. Before you decide to sell these items online, remember that having a nice assortment of collectibles at your auction or tag sale is what will attract the buyers to your event. If you sell all the good collectibles online, you won’t get very good attendance at your sale. Dont even consider a retail consignment; they will take too long to sell your items.

How do I know if I am dealing with a reputable company?

Art Paintings From Your Photo

The market for Chinese contemporary art has developed at a feverish pace, becoming the single fastest-growing segment of the international art market. Since 2004, prices for works by Chinese contemporary artists have increased by 2,000 percent or more, with paintings that once sold for under $50,000 now bringing sums above $1 million. Nowhere has this boom been felt more appreciably than in China, where it has spawned massive gallery districts, 1,600 auction houses, and the first generation of Chinese contemporary-art collectors.

This craze for Chinese contemporary art has also given rise to a wave of criticism. There are charges that Chinese collectors are using mainland auction houses to boost prices and engage in widespread speculation, just as if they were trading in stocks or real estate. Western collectors are also being accused of speculation, by artists who say they buy works cheap and then sell them for ten times the original prices-and sometimes more.

Those who entered this market in the past three years found Chinese contemporary art to be a surefire bet as prices doubled with each sale. Sotheby’s first New York sale of Asian contemporary art, dominated by Chinese artists, brought a total of $13 million in March 2006; the same sale this past March garnered $23 million, and Sotheby’s Hong Kong sale of Chinese contemporary art in April totaled nearly $34 million. Christie’s Hong Kong has had sales of Asian contemporary art since 2004. Its 2005 sales total of $11 million was dwarfed by the $40.7 million total from a single evening sale in May of this year.

These figures, impressive as they are, do not begin to convey the astounding success at auction of a handful of Chinese artists: Zhang Xiaogang, Yue Minjun, Cai Guo-Qiang, Liu Xiaodong, and Liu Ye. The leader this year was Zeng Fanzhi, whose Mask Series No. 6 (1996) sold for $9.6 million, a record for Chinese contemporary art, at Christie’s Hong Kong in May.

Zhang Xiaogang, who paints large, morose faces reminiscent of family photographs taken during the Cultural Revolution, has seen his record rise from $76,000 in 2003, when his oil paintings first appeared at Christie’s Hong Kong, to $2.3 million in November 2006, to $6.1 million in April of this year.

Gunpowder drawings by Cai Guo-Qiang, who was recently given a retrospective at the Guggenheim Museum in New York, sold for well below $500,000 in 2006; a suite of 14 works brought $9.5 million last November.

According to the Art Price Index, Chinese artists took 35 of the top 100 prices for living contemporary artists at auction last year, rivaling Jeff Koons, Damien Hirst, and a host of Western artists.

“Everybody is looking to the East and to China, and the art market isn’t any different,” says Kevin Ching, CEO of Sotheby’s Asia. “Notwithstanding the subprime crisis in the U.S. or the fact that some of the other financial markets seem jittery, the overall business community still has great faith in China, bolstered by the Olympics and the World Expo in Shanghai in 2010.”

There are indications, however, that the international market for Chinese art is beginning to slow. At Sotheby’s Asian contemporary-art sale in March, 20 percent of the lots offered found no buyers, and even works by top record-setters such as Zhang Xiaogang barely made their low estimates. “The market is getting mature, so we can’t sell everything anymore,” says Xiaoming Zhang, Chinese contemporary-art specialist at Sotheby’s New York. “The collectors have become really smart and only concentrate on certain artists, certain periods, certain material.”

For their part, Western galleries are eagerly pursuing Chinese artists, many of whom were unknown just a few years ago. Zeng Fanzhi, for example, has been signed by Acquavella Galleries in New York, in a two-year deal that exceeds $20 million, according to a Beijing gallerist close to the negotiations; William Acquavella declined to comment. Zhang Xiaogang and Zhang Huan have joined PaceWildenstein, and Ai Weiwei and Liu Xiaodong showed with Mary Boone last spring. Almost every major New York gallery has recently signed on a Chinese artist: Yan Pei Ming at David Zwirner, Xu Zhen at James Cohan, Huang Yong Ping at Gladstone, Yang Fudong at Marian Goodman, Liu Ye at Sperone Westwater. Their works are entering private and public collections that until now have not shown any particular interest in Asian contemporary art.

“The market hasn’t behaved as I anticipated,” says New York dealer Max Protetch, who has been representing artists from China since 1996. “We all anticipated that the Chinese artists would go through the same critical process that happens with art anywhere else in the world. I assumed that some artists would fall by the wayside, which has not been true. They all have become elevated. It seems like an uncritical market.”

One of the key artists buoyed by this success is Zeng Fanzhi, who is best known for his “Mask” series. Five years ago his works sold for under $50,000. Today he commands prices on the primary market closer to $1 million, with major collectors Charles Saatchi and Jose Mugrabi among his fans. Now preparing for his first solo show at Acquavella in December, he is considered one of the more serious artists on the Beijing scene because he works alone, without the horde of assistants found in most other artists’ studios in China. Still, his lifestyle is typical of that of his equally successful peers. When asked if he owns a mammoth black Hummer parked outside his studio, he answers, “No, that’s an ugly car. I have a G5 Benz.”

This success has blossomed under the watchful eye of the Chinese government. Movies, television, and news organizations are strictly censored, but on the whole, the visual arts are not. Despite sporadic incidents of exhibitions being closed or customs officials seizing artworks, by and large the government has supported the growth of an art market and has not interfered with private activity. In the 798 gallery district in Beijing, a Bauhaus-style former munitions complex that has been transformed into the capital’s hottest art center, with more than 150 galleries, one finds works addressing poverty and other social problems, official corruption, and new sexual mores. The icons of the former China-happy workers and peasants and heroic soldiers raising the red banner-are treated with irony, if at all, by the artists whose works are on view in these galleries, which are private venues generally not under the strict control of the Ministry of Culture.

On the eve of the Olympics, however, the government asked one gallery to postpone an exhibition until after the games. Considered unsuitable was “Touch,” a show by Ma Baozhong at the Xin Beijing Gallery of 15 paintings depicting important moments in Chinese history, including one based on a photograph showing Mao Zedong with the Dalai Lama and the Panchen Lama in 1954.

The Beijing municipality spent enormous funds to renovate the 798 district before the Olympics, putting in new cobblestone streets and lining its main thoroughfare with cafés. Shanghai, which has benefited less from government support, now boasts at least 100 galleries. Local governments throughout the country are establishing SoHo-style gallery districts to boost tourism.

One person who seems confident about the future of the Chinese market is Arne Glimcher, founder and president of PaceWildenstein, who opened a branch of his gallery in Beijing in August. Located in a 22,000-square-foot cement space with soaring ceilings, redesigned at a cost of $20 million by architect Richard Gluckman, the gallery is in the center of the 798 district. “We are committed to the art, and we wanted to open a gallery where our artists are,” says Glimcher. Adding that he normally eschews the “McGallery” trend of setting up satellite spaces around the world, Glimcher insists that it was necessary to establish a branch in Beijing because there is “no local gallery of our caliber” with which Pace could partner. He has, however, recruited Leng Lin, founder of Beijing Commune, another gallery operating in 798, to be his director.

Another Western dealer who has taken the China plunge is Arthur Solway, who recently opened a branch of James Cohan in Shanghai. “I started coming to China five years ago, and I was fascinated by the energy,” says Solway, who wanted to introduce gallery artists like Bill Viola, Wim Wenders, and Roxy Paine to Asia but, like Glimcher, could not find a public museum or private gallery that he considered professionally qualified to handle such exhibitions. James Cohan Gallery Shanghai is located on the ground floor of a 1936 Art Deco structure in the French Concession, a particularly picturesque section of the city. The building was once occupied by the military, and red Chinese characters over the front door still exhort, “Let the spirit of Mao Zedong flourish for 10,000 years.”

“From 1966 to 1976, during the Cultural Revolution, people had nothing, but now there are spas in Shanghai and people drinking cappuccinos and buying Rolex watches-it’s an amazing phenomenon,” says Solway, who believes it is only a matter of time before these same newly affluent consumers begin to collect contemporary art.

Chinese collectors-or the hope that there will be Chinese collectors-are the key draw luring these galleries to Beijing. As recently as two years ago, few could name even a single Chinese collector of contemporary art. It was a truism that the Chinese preferred to spend their money acquiring antiquities and classical works. Since then several well-known mainland collectors have emerged on the scene.

Most visible is Guan Yi, the suave, well-dressed heir to a chemical-engineering fortune, who has assembled a museum-quality collection of more than 500 works. A major lender to the Huang Yong Ping retrospective organized by the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis in 2005, he regularly entertains museum trustees from all over the world, who make the pilgrimage to his warehouse on the outskirts of Beijing. Now he is building his own museum.

Another noted figure is Zhang Lan, head of the South Beauty chain of Szechuan-style restaurants throughout China; she also has assembled an enviable collection and displays pieces from it in her chic establishments. The film actress Zhang Ziyi is representative of a new class of collectors from the entertainment industry, while Pan Shiyi and Zhang Xin, chairman and CEO of the mammoth SOHO China real estate empire, have commissioned projects for their upscale residential properties.

Two collectors who are cheerleaders for the Beijing art scene are Yang Bin, an automobile-franchise mogul, and Zhang Rui, a telecommunications executive who is also the backer of Beijing Art Now Gallery, which took part in Art Basel in June, one of the first Beijing galleries to appear at the fair. These two do more than collect art. They have hosted dinners for potential collectors, organized tours to Art Basel Miami Beach, and brought friends with them to sales in London and New York. Zhang Rui, who owns more than 500 works, has lent art to international exhibitions, most notably the installation Tomorrow, which features four “dead Beatles” mannequins floating facedown, created by artists Sun Yuan and Peng Yu for the 2006 Liverpool Biennial, which rejected it.

Zhang is now building an art hotel, featuring specially commissioned works and artist-designed rooms, outside the Workers’ Stadium in the center of Beijing. “I am trying to think of ways of changing my private collection into a public collection,” Zhang explained to ARTnews through a translator. It isn’t financially advantageous to do this in China, as no tax benefits accrue from donations to museums or other nonprofit institutions.

Zhang Rui represents the handful of Chinese collectors who are public about their activities and are building noteworthy collections. Far more typical of buying activity in China is the rampant speculation taking place in the mainland auction houses. There are 1,600 registered auctioneers, and their sales attract hundreds of bidders. Chinese buyers are more comfortable with auction houses, which have been in business since 1994, than with galleries, which weren’t licensed to operate by the government until the late 1990s.

These auction houses run by their own rules, generating what sometimes seems like a “wild, wild East” atmosphere. It is, for example, fairly common for a house to get consignments directly from artists, who then use the sales to establish prices for their works on the primary market. More often, now that China has hundreds of galleries, dealers come to a sale with buyers in tow, publicly bidding up works to establish “record prices” and advertise their artists. This kind of bidding ring would be considered illegal in the United States, but in China it is viewed as a savvy business practice. There is little regulation of auction houses and few developed legal norms in the field, so that even when buyers have grievances-with fakes and forgeries, for example-they do not feel they can resort to the law. Bidding is a social as well as a business activity, and buyers are happy to flaunt their status by paying record prices or quickly flipping artworks, not only for profit but so they can boast of their short-term gains.

As the domestic market for contemporary art matures, however, many of these practices are coming into question. “Two years ago it was more necessary for me to bring my artists to auction,” says Fang Fang, owner of Star Gallery in Beijing, which specializes in young emerging artists such as Chen Ke and Gao Yu. “Now that the gallery market has increased, I find it is better to keep my artists out of the auction rooms, and there is much less reason to sell there.”

Two mainland firms, Beijing Poly International Auction Company, and China Guardian Auctions Company, dominate the field of contemporary Chinese art. Their combined 2007 total of more than $200 million in sales represented nearly two-thirds of all auction sales in this category in mainland China for the year. Last spring Guardian achieved $142 million in sales of classical artworks, furniture, ceramics, silver, and coins, and $40 million in sales of contemporary material. The latter figure included the $8.2 million fetched by Liu Xiaodong’s Hotbed No. 1, a record for a painting sold on the mainland. In a similar range of sales last spring, Poly sold $130 million worth of works, including $27 million in a single evening contemporary-art sale. (These figures represent a slight decline for the year because both houses held benefit sales for Szechuan earthquake victims, raising more than $20 million to support relief efforts.)

Poly and Guardian reflect two vastly different perspectives on the domestic market in Chinese contemporary art. Guardian is the oldest and most respected auction house in China, founded in 1993 by Wang Yannan, daughter of Zhao Ziyang, the former Communist Party leader who was placed under house arrest after opposing the government’s use of force against demonstrators at Tiananmen Square in 1989. If Poly is known for its vast resources and willingness to make deals to nab consignments, Guardian is known for its respected specialists and long-term client relationships. For example, when the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, decided to sell 20 pieces of Qing dynasty porcelain in mainland China, it consigned the collection to Guardian.

The atmosphere of a sale at Poly or Guardian is surprisingly similar to that in the salerooms of Christie’s or Sotheby’s. The catalogues are identical in design, and the bidding proceeds in an orderly, even sedate, fashion, despite the crowds of spectators in the room.

“From our beginning, we studied what the principles of an auction house should be, and we stick to these principles,” says Guardian president Wang. She also serves on the board of the new nationwide auctioneers’ association, which hopes to enforce regulations on the auction market.

Poly is an enterprise within the China Poly Group Corporation, a $30 billion conglomerate that is the privatized branch of the People’s Liberation Army. Established initially to repatriate artworks and antiquities, Poly has spent $100 million buying objects such as the bronze animal heads from a water-clock fountain that were looted from Beijing’s Summer Palace by British and French troops in 1860; the pieces later turned up in the West. The repatriated objects are showcased in the Poly Art Museum in the sparkling New Beijing Poly Plaza, a glass-enclosed tower designed by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill.

The Music Gallery: Can Music Ever Be Valued As Fine Art?

Introduction: The Highest Art Auction in History

Recently a Christie’s art sale became the highest auction in history. The sale included works by Jackson Pollock, Roy Lichtenstein and Jean-Michel Basquiat, among others and in total generated $495 million. The sale established 16 new world auction records, with nine works selling for more than $10m (£6.6m) and 23 for more than $5m (£3.2m). Christie’s said the record breaking sales reflected “a new era in the art market”.

The top lot of Wednesday’s sale was Pollock’s drip painting Number 19, 1948, which fetched $58.4m (£38.3m) – nearly twice its pre-sale estimate.

Lichtenstein’s Woman with Flowered Hat sold for $56.1 million, while another Basquiat work, Dustheads (top of article), went for $48.8 million.

All three works set the highest prices ever fetched for the artists at auction. Christie’s described the $495,021,500 total – which included commissions – as “staggering”. Only four of the 70 lots on offer went unsold.

In addition, a 1968 oil painting by Gerhard Richter has set a new record for the highest auction price achieved by a living artist. Richter’s photo-painting Domplatz, Mailand (Cathedral Square, Milan) sold for $37.1 million (£24.4 million). Sotheby’s described Domplatz, Mailand, which depicts a cityscape painted in a style that suggests a blurred photograph, as a “masterpiece of 20th Century art” and the “epitome” of the artist’s 1960s photo-painting canon. Don Bryant, founder of Napa Valley’s Bryant Family Vineyard and the painting’s new owner, said the work “just knocks me over”.

Brett Gorvy, head of post-war and contemporary art, said “The remarkable bidding and record prices set reflect a new era in the art market,” he said. Steven Murphy, CEO of Christie’s International, said new collectors were helping drive the boom.

Myths of the Music-Fine Art Price Differential

When I came across this article I was stunned at the prices these artworks were able to obtain. Several of them would hardly evoke a positive emotional response in me, while others might only slightly, but for almost all of them I really don’t understand how their prices are reflected in the work, and vice versa. Obviously, these pieces were not intended for people like me, an artist, while wealthy patrons certainly see their intrinsic artistic value clearly.

So why doesn’t music attract these kinds of prices? Is it even possible for a piece of recorded music, not music memorabilia or a music artifact (such as a rare record, LP, bootleg, T-shirt, album artwork, etc.), to be worth $1 million or more? Are all musicians and music composers doomed to struggle in the music industry and claw their way up into a career in music? If one painting can be valued at $1 million, why can’t a song or piece of music also be valued similarly? Apparently, the $.99 per download price is the highest price a song is able to command at market value, no matter what its quality or content, and the musician or composer must accept this value as such.

The financial equation looks something like this:

1 painting = $37 million

1 song = $.99

Sometimes people say that a song can change the world, but no one ever says that about paintings. So theoretically, if people want change $.99 is the price we must pay for it.

Now here are a few statements that should help us clarify what the monetary or value discrepancy between painting and music is based upon.

(1) There are fewer painters than there are musicians.

(2) Musicians are less talented than painters?

(3) It is easier to create music than it is to paint.

(4) The public values paintings more than music.

(5) Paintings are more beautiful than music.

(6) Paintings are impossible to copy unlike music.

(7) Painters work harder than musicians and composers.

(8) Blah, blah, blah.

Hardly anyone agrees with all of these statements and yet all, or at least some of them, would have to be true in order for the price of paintings to so greatly exceed the cost of music. Moreover, I doubt that art collectors and great painters have to deal with as much legal red tape as do musicians when releasing their work into the public domain, so why aren’t the rewards equal, if not greater for musicians who have to work almost as much protecting their work as in producing it. Musicians and composers, however, actually must do more than authenticate their work and obtain accurate appraisals concerning what their work is worth, but they get paid less. The equipment costs alone for musicians is much higher than it is for painters.

Maybe it’s fame, and not money, musicians are after? That would explain why most musicians settle for the low pay they receive from record deals and digital downloads. Perhaps, that’s also why many of them are touring more often to increase their fame and not their fortunes. But wait a minute, that’s where musicians actually make most of their money from live performances and the selling of merchandise, but not the music. I guess this is why many musicians see themselves not as composers, but rather as performers and entertainers.

So what can musicians do, who don’t see themselves as entertainers, but instead as composers who create music as a fine art? Because they too have a strong desire to earn a living to support themselves in their chosen profession, thus there must be a specialized approach whereby they present their work to music lovers or art collectors in search of assets and curators for unique pieces to place in their private galleries. Imagine that, a recorded piece of music that few have ever heard which is displayed and played only on a specified music player in a private art gallery or collection.

In thinking about how a musician can follow the example set by painters in the fine arts, I’ve isolated 4 principles that should help to make the spectacular financial rewards they’ve reached possible for the musician. So let’s analyze some of the characteristics that govern the market for fine art and see how musicians can apply these concepts to their creative, production, and marketing processes.

The Ideal Vehicle for Music as Fine Art

Here are 4 principles and practical suggestions for musicians who want to elevate their music into the realm of fine art by following the example of the painters of the past and present.

1) Strive to make unique music or music collections.

The composer must design experiments with sound or compositional techniques. Some music belongs in the realm of the public, while other music solely belongs in the realm of fine art. It’s really not that difficult to tell the difference. The difference is clear when one compares the environment of the nightclub and the music one finds there with the elevated environment of the ballet or opera and its music. The difference is not necessarily one in terms of types of music, but rather in the composer’s sonic fingerprint. In other words, not everyone thinks Jackson Pollock was a great painter, but everyone acknowledges that it took him years of development to reach a point where his style could be born. It’s the style of the artist or composer that will call out to the attention of wealthy patrons, the respect of peers, and the exclusive admiration of the music appreciator. In music, the style of the composer, regardless of genre, I call ‘a signature sound.’ It’s the signature sound that music and art collectors will want to own and for that they might be willing to pay or bid up the cost of ownership to a higher price.

2) Create a music gallery.

This could be modeled after the art gallery where one or several artist put their work on display. The difference with the music gallery is that you would have a hall filled with listening rooms or stations. These showings would not be live performances, but instead will be in effect sound installations. You could also separate one hall into several compartments for different composers. The music showing would be an exclusive event provided to serious music and art collectors who actively seek out sonic experiences and buy what they like. The purpose of the music gallery would be the same as the art gallery – to give the public a sample of the artist’s talent, to give critics something to write about, to have other composers comment on the work of a peer, and to create buzz in the art world. Always remember that it shouldn’t be the event that drives the buzz, but the music that makes the event.

3) Turn your music into a tangible asset.

The obvious difference between a painting and music is that one is a tangible artwork and the other is not. In other words, one of the defining characteristics of a painting is that the medium and the art are one. Unlike music, where the music must be transferred onto another object such as a cassette tape, vinyl, CD, or mP3 player before it can be perceived, whereas with a painting (or sculpture) an object has been transformed into art. So how can it be or is it even possible for a cassette, CD, or download to be transformed into art? The cassette and CD are more akin to a photograph of a painting, rather than a true expressions where the medium and the art are one.

So one step a musician can take to elevate their music into fine art is by making your music and its medium one. The best way that I can think of to do this is by looking to the past. Ironically, the vinyl LP very closely achieved this quality with album art, its sizing, and packaging. Let’s quickly discuss some of the qualities of the vinyl LP and valuable marketing angles that I think opens up interesting approaches for musicians to turn their music into fine art at price appropriate levels commiserate with earning a livelihood.

Today there are several companies around that let you customize your LP vinyl album and artwork. This is wonderful because it gives you total control over the art direction your packaging takes. This is an expressive way to bring the personality of the artist, band, or project out into physical form. Many colors are available and unique mixtures are also possible to add a dimension to your music that isn’t normally possible with cassette tapes, CD’s, or digital downloads. Even split colored and glow-in-the-dark vinyl are available for bold composers looking for something with a bit more flair.

Etched Art and Your Album

Another fantastic way to elevate the music via packaging and presentation is to consider etched art in vinyl. Etched vinyl is an image pressed into the unplayable side of your record which has a frosted appearance. The etched side does not contain any grooves or music but adds a real touch of style to your music package. I don’t know if etched art can also be a hologramic look, but that would be another dimension that would enhance the visual component of your music package.

Art and LP Sizes

The last aspect I’d like to touch on is the size of the LP. Unlike the cassettes and CD’s, which both come in a single universal size determined by the media player, LP’s are played on phonographs or turntables whose arms can adjust to the different sizes of LP’s. In general, LP’s come in 3 sizes: 7″, 10″, and 12″. And because the album covers have to provide a sleeve for a large surface, they correspondingly must also be large. At a minimum the 12″ LP will require an album cover that’s 1 square foot. That’s about 4 times the size of a standard CD and anywhere from 8 – 12 times the size of cassette tape.

Understanding this gives you an additional angle to design artwork for the music package. There might even be a way to design a painter’s canvas which can house an LP within its frame to turn it into a cover. For those musicians and composers who possess multiple artistic talents, an original painting to accompany a music release could be another profitable approach to look into. If you think about it even further the size of the 12″ LP is actually the size of a small painting. Foldable or dual LP covers are also available which provide a much larger surface with which to more greatly present amazing album art work to dazzle customers. The dual LP album cover would give you exactly a 24″ x 12″ surface to work with.

The Non-Vinyl LP and other Miscellaneous Considerations

Other more sophisticated forms of the approach I’m describing here for the LP would keep the concept of the LP at the center of the music package, while removing the vinyl as material. Ideally, the perfect substance for a fine art music LP would consist of a material that didn’t warp, couldn’t be shattered, that would prevent grooves from wearing out, and that would be scratch-proof. So that would mean you’d need to do your homework and find out what’s possible with all known exotic substances, metal alloys, industrial metals, specialized plastics, and non-scratch surfaces to achieve the perfect substance for a fine art music LP. Moreover, this substance would play CD quality sound on any or a special turntable with a uniquely designed needle made specifically for this material and album type.

If a fine art music LP were to ever come into existence it would have to stand the test of time and survive usage, storage, and travel as it transfers custody from one owner to another over decades and even centuries. These are the main reasons why owners of fine art music LP’s will need to get insurance for the asset. A non-vinyl LP could also be manufactured to blow away the art collector, music enthusiast, and investor with something like an LP made of 24-karat gold or some other precious metal like silver or platinum. This one alteration could make such an LP worth a $1 million or more depending on the aggressiveness of the bidders. Overall you’ll have to do some research of your own to discover what your options are and can be in order to raise your LP into the class of an investment, a tangible asset (collectible), and fine art. In the absence of the existence of this ideal substance, we must aim for novelty to achieve appeal.

Exclusive Music

Another aspect to explore briefly is the exclusivity factor in regard to the ownership of fine art. Not everyone can afford a Picasso, but those who can, generally, aren’t willing to share it with everyone because they want exclusive ownership over the Picasso, that’s part of the package of owning fine art.

The way to provide exclusive ownership to interested parties is through contracts, so you’ll have to hire legal advice to shape the legal framework governing ownership of a music album or music as fine art. The contract can be shaped in any number of ways according to your wishes, but basically it should state what the owner has permission to do or is prohibited from doing with the work you are selling them. You want your buyers to know that they can transfer ownership of the album to heirs or sell it to other private collectors as you can with any other tangible asset. This is part of the process of owning fine art, which they’ve come to expect in their dealings with galleries and other collectors, so deal with them as a professional.

In addition, you’ll want to legally prohibit the buyers from broadcasting or disseminating the music from your fine art LP or other media. To preserve its value the music must be kept out of the public domain and remain in the hands of those who have the right to hear it. If the owners want to talk about it and even play it for a small gathering of people as a fine art music exhibit then great, but they should not be permitted to make copies or profit from your recordings.

The beauty of a limit supply and contracts is that together they will help you to track all of the owners over your lifetime and preserve the value of your work. If one of them can be found to be responsible for leaking the material out into public, you’ll have a lawsuit on your hands which you should easily win. But if a leak was to happen, the value (price) of the LP might drop precipitously and demand could even dry up completely. But really what’s the worst that could happen, that the price of your music ends up at the low end of the price scale – $.99 per track?

A Word on Supply and Demand

Similarly, the law of supply and demand must also be part of the equation for pricing your music as fine art. Basically, the law of supply and demand works like this: the greater the supply, the lower the demand and the lower the supply, the greater the demand. In other words, the more of something there is, the less it’s worth and the less of something there is, the more it’s worth. The law doesn’t always work out this perfectly, but as a general rule it works.

The problem with this law is that it only slightly takes into account mass psychology and the way demand is created, which is by advertising, marketing, and PR (public relations). Without these 3 factors working in your favor, there will be little or no demand for your fine art music LP, no matter how small your supply is. It’s only when these 3 factors are working in your favor and demand is fairly high that the price of your singular or limited edition fine art music LP, CD, or digital audio files can rise and skyrocket. So become fluent with hope to employ advertising, marketing, and PR and make sure the demand is there among your target audience prior to releasing your work so that you can be certain your album receives a high bidding.

A Digital Point of View

Some of the ideas I’ve presented here so far can be applied to music in digital formats as well. For example, a limited edition, gorgeously designed iPod or alternative mP3 player with your fine art music programmed into a locked memory is one approach. For example, high-end buyers there’s an iPod available that’s made from 22k gold and it features an Apple logo made of diamonds, it estimate price is roughly $120,000.

Something like this could work or even just a really cool looking, READ-only thumb drive could work. You just plug it in and enjoy exclusive access to an album that only one collector or a select few have in their possession.

The number one problem with a digital format is that it’s too easy to copy files from one device to another, which is why a locked or unhackable memory is crucial. Without the locked memory, the exclusivity factor cannot exist and undermines the creation of a fine art music digital device.

4) Put your music to auction.

Part of the reason why the paintings in the beginning of this article sold for so much money is because competing bids pushed the price upward. After you’ve designed an amazing fine art music collection and package, you’ll need to decide how to sell or auction your product.

Many options for auctioning items are available but probably the most well-known is eBay, but eBay is probably not the best place to sell fine art music this way. To start it might be a good place to test the concept, but you might not reach your target clientele. Another option could be Bandcamp or Amazon, but there’s no auctioning available with these companies. However, you could set a high price for downloads, CD’s or vinyl LP’s and sell few of them.

For example, downloads might go for anywhere from $15 to $200 per track and for the album maybe the price of a mid-range painting, perhaps $800 to $2,000+.

You could also set up a simple website where you present and sell your fine art music like painters, sculptors, sketch artists, wood workers, and artisans sell their work. On your site you can talk about your album on video, with a music blog, on internet radio, through interviews, on music or artists-oriented podcasts, and through articles, so that you can send all the traffic to your eBay page or personal website where all you’re selling are copies of your limited edition collection of fine art music.

The simplicity of this plan is that you, along with eBay as your broker, control the entire process. The idea here is as with most auctions which is to watch the bidders compete with one another as everyone watches the price go higher and higher.

Name Your Price: The Radiohead Experiment

The band Radiohead did something like this but differently. Instead of auctioning a one of a kind or limited edition exclusive digital album, they allowed their fans to pay what they wanted for their new release at the time. The experiment brought in mixed results but overall was a success for the band members who made more money personally than on any previous album. However, it’s been reported that 38% of buyers spent an average of $6, while the other 62% downloaded the album without paying anything at all – $0. Globally, the average price paid was around $2.26 and $3.23 in the U.S. Of those who did pay something, 17% paid below $4, but 12% paid between $8 and $12.

This approach is unlikely to work for lesser known artists who want to present their music as fine art. The main reason why it wouldn’t is because it fails to fulfill the factor of exclusive ownership. Everyone and anyone could get a copy of the Radiohead album, therefore it’s value is reduced because the quantity available was infinite instead of limited or rare, since the demand was high.

NIN and a Tiered Approach

Likewise, tiered fine art music packages whose prices range from a few dollars up to hundreds or even thousands of dollars is a much better way to entice collectors to buy music as fine art or music as an investment.

Here’s how Nine Inch Nail’s Trent Reznor made a small fortune with his “Ghosts I – IV” album release. In total 5 tiers are available.

The first tier offers a free download of the first 9 tracks from the album.

The 2nd tier offers a $5 digital download with a 40 page PDF.

The 3rd tier offers a 2 CD’s with a 16 page booklet for $10.

The 4th tier is a $75 deluxe edition which includes 2 audio CD’s, a data DVD with all 36 tracks in multi-track format, a 48 page book of photographs by Phillip Graybill and Rob Sheridan, a 40 page PDF book, and an accompanying slideshow on a Blu-Ray disc.

And on the 5th tier you get pretty much everything else on the lower tiers except you also get a 3rd book with art prints of imagery from Ghosts I – IV and each limited edition copy is numbered and personally signed by Trent Reznor. This limited edition was restricted to 2500 copies with a limit of one per customer for a grand total of $300. The $300 tier was known as the Ultra-Deluxe Limited Edition Package and is currently sold out.

The financials on the 5th tier look pretty good. With the Ultra-Deluxe Limited Edition Package, we know there were only 2500 copies and that each sold for $300. So, 2500 x 300 = $750,000. Imagine what prices could have been reached if Reznor had allowed the buyers to bid on the Ultra-Deluxe Limited Edition Package. He could have started the bidding at or just below $300 and watched the prices go up from there. Interestingly, as fewer of them were available the prices might have started to get astronomical. He probably still would’ve sold every copy and his income might well have been closer to $1 million, but either he did a great job structuring his price scale as demonstrated by his results. And let’s not forget that our equation excluded the income he generated from tiers 2 – 4, which most certainly brought his total revenues far passed $1 million.

Review

As we end off let’s briefly review the factors that will lead to fine art music success.

1) Strive to make unique music or music collections. To do this you’ll need to experiment with unique methods, techniques, or styles that offer a signature sound. In the art world, this will be known as your sonic fingerprint. This is what art collectors will want to purchase and appreciate.

2) Create a music gallery. Come up with ideas for how to present your new compositions at a music exhibit. It should look and feel much like an art exhibit, but be adapted for music. This might include setting up private listening stations for individual art collectors or small rooms for a limited listening audience and where auctions can occur.

3) Turn your music into a tangible asset. Painting elevates the canvas and paint into art, whereas music can never elevate a cassette tape or CD into art. For music, the medium must be turned into art as part of the package for presenting music as fine art. Painting also elevates and transforms its medium, while music is usually transported by its medium, unless its digital, then it’s all about the music. Remember what we discussed about digital formats and the vinyl LP as ideal vehicles for selling music as fine art.

4) Above all, offer exclusivity as an essential part of the package of fine art music ownership, so find ways to guarantee this for your buyers. Art ownership is strongly based on its exclusivity, which for the collector means they are part of a very select group of individuals who have the right or privilege to receive exposure to your fine art music. If you can exclude the masses and create demand amongst a select few, then the prices you can attract will rise as few buyers try to outbid one another for exclusive ownership of your music.

5) Lastly, use an auction system to create massive profits. Keep the law of supply and demand in mind when building your music into a tangible asset and don’t forget the vital role advertising, marketing, and PR play in creating demand. There’s no purpose in creating a limited supply of anything for which there is no demand.

Conclusion

These are by no means all of the ways in which these ideas can be applied to your situation or in these formats, but whatever you choose to do you’ll need to formulate the right balance of factors that make the price of your fine art music rise. Many of you may be stunned by the extent of initial investment capital you’ll require to elevate your music into a fine art collectible, which is why you’ll have to amplify your people skills and take courses in sales training, marketing, investing and business. Several of the approaches I mentioned will require you to raise capital from a bank, institution such as a private equity firm, or venture capitalists to get you started, otherwise you’ll need to get access to personal or small business credit at low interest rates. This will give you more time to implement your program and generate your first wave of sales.

If your business plan for turning your music into fine art is solid and your sales presentation is thorough, then the money will find you as more investors see profit in the opportunity. Additionally, wealthy patrons may see your work as an important contribution to art history or your presentation may just resonate with an investor or group of investors that they may just give you money to finish your project. In either case, be business-like, get all of your agreements in writing and have them reviewed by a competent legal representative expert at intellectual property issues and financial transactions in particular.

Marc Avante is a musician, sound designer, and blogger. He is also the founder of the music project called Stereo Thesis. Stereo Thesis is a prototype sound design and music studio.