Art consumption is currently divided into two clear-cut strata, where one is low-cost sales under 50$, while the other is straight-up auction and private sales with millions in turnaround. Between is a huge gap and a potential audience, which consists of younger generations of millennials and the Generation Z. Recent research on the generation of millennials (born between 1980 and 1996) shows the replacement of pattern of material objects consumption by non-material, educational patterns. The study claims that millennials, who are currently economically active and whose role in the economy will only increase, not only value impressions and experience higher than things, but spend more and more time and money on getting them. By extension we know that the coming generations will be a lot less likely to invest in expensive art, just like they don’t have the habit of buying expensive property – and yet they rent it for the experience. Similarly, the relation of the new generations with art industries when it comes to choosing between owning and streaming, speaks for itself. During the first half of 2018, sales of song downloads tanked by a third, while streams almost doubled. Moreover, in April 2018 music streaming overtook physical sales (CDs and records) for the first time in history. Easier streaming services have also put a dent in illegal downloading, gradually shrinking the percentage of pirated music. While backdoors like LimeWire and torrents are still available, they are losing their popularity due to technological and ideological transition in the music industry, which provides a legal solution that strikes the right balance between accessibility, simplicity and price.
So, what do we have? On the one hand, a generation eager to consume the experience of art way more than its predecessors. On the other, an example of a creative industry that has already gone through the transition from often elitist, mostly physical and widely illegal ownership to streaming of digital versions widely available to all for very little money.
A recent David Hockney exhibition at the Met represented his work across all media, including painting, drawing, photography – and his digital art, which was shown on three big screens that constantly had a crowd hovering around it due to not being static. The benefit of it being digital lies not only in entertainment, but in the way it can be accessed and distributed. What does it imply for the future? That with the right framework, one would be able to rent David Hockney’s digital work from his website – to show it at a private gathering, a party, or a small exhibition. The same framework will allow art to become a section on your Apple TV menu, which will allow users to stream artwork not just as a digital copy, but in a legal agreement with the artwork’s owner, whether it’s the author or his curating gallery.
While we are talking about the kind of transition music industry has already gone through, the art world is still missing the necessary instruments and infrastructure. In order to facilitate a quick transition such instruments ought to be based on a well-established technology the world is already accustomed to, thus having very low psychological and financial barriers of entry. .ART offers Art Records, a solution based on DNS, which is essentially the foundation of the Internet itself, with a decades long history and a consensus of 7 billion people around it. Eventually, Art Records will become an ecosystem for various tech solutions and services for marketing and distribution, enabling commercial exploitation of digital art.