Art and Content

I like the word piece, or work. A work of art, a piece of music. In terms of music content can tend to be an extract or preview, a snippet, rather than a full work. So if worried, create and post full length works rather than snippets or demos. After all, Instagram lifted the 1 minute video thing and combined that with IGTV, so there’s no real need to use that short format anymore (at least in IG).


I mean, this is exactly what it means. not entirely sure when ‘content’ started to infiltrate the common lexicon, but I would guess that it was bleed-over from how the people designing these platforms referred to the actual ideas being shared on those platforms.

it’s the perfect generic, catch-all, hand-wavy gesture that inherently insulates the people making impactful design decisions from any real responsibility surrounding the things their platform encourages or discourages.

content is a pretty gross way to describe someone’s creative work.


It’s just a web thing, I think. It comes from the days of early flash web design, and blogs and things like that. ‘Content is king’ my designer friends used to say. Content keeps people hooked, brings them back to a page, gets hits on a site etc.


If you want to sell people a bowl, they need something to put in the bowl.
Give them the content and they will buy the container.


Yeah this insinuation of addictive behavior is so disgusting. Can vouch that some of the music I view as most artistically impactful is not the music I listen to every day. Nobody would go to the Rothko room every day, which is one reason why art is usually asynchronous with these online platforms



Thank you for starting this conversation and voicing these thoughts. I’ve been thinking along these lines a lot these days, with a similar feeling of dis-content (lol @sixolet & @renegog)… it’s heartening to know others here feel this way…

All of the insights and contributions here are spot-on.

I used to teach sound/video/performance (art) and have heard the word “content” used by younger students to describe their creative endeavors more and more lately. What bothers me is that they don’t always have the background knowledge or experience to understand exactly why some people think that “art” should be considered more meaningful/valuable/sacred/significant/elevated vs. content.

And, unfortunately, as most of our social interaction now happens across digital content-creation platforms, those likes, follows, or upvotes on content are the only markers the casual individual (or the AI algorithm?) can use to gauge what is valued by society. After a few million followers or a few thousand likes, it really starts to look like a lot of people value that content.


this convo seems pretty connected to my strongly mixed feelings over youtube which I’ve been mulling over lately.

on one hand, youtube is sort of the closest thing we have right now to an open video learning network. I can learn about music theory, how to crochet, make the perfect onsen-tamago, or use synthesizers all for free which is actually pretty great. not that there aren’t other resources for each of these things, but sometimes video is an ideal format.

on the other hand, that online content box is sort of inexplicably linked to advertising, which for some reason feels even more true for youtube compared to other things. the things I put on youtube don’t hit the art button suuuper hard for me (they’re more like learning or demonstration videos for music tech), but I also really don’t want them to be equated with advertising. which is difficult because yea ok you can buy the thing I’m using blah blah.

I’ve been trying to think of how to continue making this type of video (I actually enjoy it) while subtly decontextualizing myself from advertising.


I love that type of video, and I’ve learned so much from YouTube… but can any content can be separated from it’s potential profitability if it’s on a platform who’s money comes from that ad revenue? Can an artwork still be relevant to society-at-large if it isn’t on a popular platform like YouTube, Instagram, Reddit, or Twitter in some way?

Maybe the only solution is to make DisContent… let’s all upload entire channels of multiple 10 hour-long silent/pictureless videos…?

Yes! …But how? To echo the last few minutes of Adam Curtis’ Can’t Get You Out Of My Head (quoting David Graeber): “the ultimate hidden truth of this world is that is something we make, and could, just as easily make differently.”

Instead of making a whole new platform, maybe we could make a new word, or a way to properly frame/contextualize/delineate “art” from “content” on those platforms? Time to make some #discontent …or… #uncontent



Ok gimme a hard one


I was a ‘content creator’ from '97-'01 for two different VHS/DVD websites (a mom’n’pop and a massive capitalist) – really just filling them up. We would get a box of tapes/discs in the morning, and based on the moviebox synopsis and any info we could find on that early web, we’d write a ~100 word description of the flick, plus cast/crew/credits and technical data; thousands and thousands of descriptions to bulk out our brand new websites. But there was also a creative side to this work – when new movies came out, or for a pre-selected number of ‘important’ films/directors/actors, we got paid extra ($20/film!!!1!) to write ‘real’ reviews. It was hack work but it really tightened my writing!


Debating “Art vs Content” might be kind of irrelevant if we’re just going to post the piece on YouTube or the like… The systems of capitalism that are making us feel uncomfortable in the first place are so invisible as to make us feel that we’ve got no choice but to share our art there…

Seems the more important question is:

How can we change the ways we share what we make/love/create?

(very curious to hear what folks think, especially re music or sound art).


I wanna tag @zbs here who shares their music on a plain old directory of files, as well as the Norns pirate radio project.


thanks for the plug, naomi!

yeah, i’ve tried a lot of methods and the simplest and best for me is literally just a bare directory on my site. It also means that people can freely download my music, which for me is a good thing, but surely wouldn’t be ideal for every project.

it’s 100% past and futureproof (afaik), runs on all platforms, and is literally as lightweight as possible.

also, tracks are listed in alphabetical order as opposed to serving viewers the newest content, which to me feels like a nice small rebellion against “feeds”


I really like this person, Joshua.

He makes videos about programming old computers and puts them on his web site. He’s soft spoken. There’s no jingle. If you want to see more of it, you can come back in a month and see if he’s put something new up.


I am always impressed with people who choose the difficulties of going into exile to explore/present their art outside of the main thoroughfares.


The last few posts have summed up my feelings on YouTube. I have learned so much from YT videos. At the same time I have no interest in participating in that economy.

Is there a “Bandcamp” of online video? EG, with a clear and simple business plan that doesn’t involve selling ads or user data?

Not sure there is, but how would that work? Patreon / kofi / etc are the closest I can think of.

I’m considering self-hosting as my own alternative

neocities gives you 50gb of storage on the $5/month plan which is quite decent, and another alternative would be uploading to the internet archive and sticking the link in a video element on your site (haven’t tried either yet).

also @mattlowery sorry if the platform stuff is off-topic - there is literally another thread about exactly this going on right now !


I was thinking similar to Bandcamp: almost everything up for free, people have the option to buy or subscribe, and get some kind of benefit, a defined amount goes to the artist, a cut goes to the hosting business. If you watch something a couple times, it gives you a tearing heart graphic if you don’t pay the artist. Also, must refuse VC money.

Seriously, though, I’m going to look into The Internet Archive.


i would have said vimeo — it’s monetized by uploaders of videos paying to use the service, not like bandcamp really at all from a financial perspective. As a film/video artist I think this gets exceedingly complicated — are you making film/video art or are you making musical art with a visual component? I’m not arguing for strict genre distinctions, but the concept of a music video in a traditional sense (for example) is very much “content” — the music is the thing, the video is content to help sell records. Having worked with labels on music video production before uhhhh this is extremely still how it’s thought of.

Needless to say, a “music video” of course can also be a mode of artistic expression. My feeling is “content” can contain artistic expression — “content” does not define the thing, it is a word used by people with a financial-corporate association with the thing to define their relationship with it. Every single movie or tv show on any streaming platform, I can guarantee, has been described as “content” in a board meeting. The collected works of Ingmar Bergman do not suffer for that fact :crazy_face:

My longer point is that consumers/patrons of art do not have the same habits of financially supporting visual arts such as film and video in the way they have the habit of buying a record or tape (the metaphor which is employed by bandcamp). I would love for independent filmmakers to have an avenue/marketplace to virtually sell their DVDs, but right now unfortunately the closest thing to that is Amazon and itunes rentals — which have obvious corporate gatekeeping things going on which make it incomparable to something like bandcamp.

Sorry if this is too far down a specific rabbit hole, but I think the broader point that might be useful to add to this convo is that different artistic media face different dilemmas in reaching their consumer and/or patron (which may or may not be the same entity). This goes some of the way towards explaining why there’s so many musicians making video content… maybe