Of arts, culture products pricing

HARARE - The creative industry has been hard hit by piracy over a very long time now.

Piracy has been serious partly because there are now very few formal structures for marketing and sales of arts and culture products.

The book industry, for example, used to have bookshops in every corner of Harare, all urban centres, Growth Points and rural townships. Today, in most towns there are no longer any shops that sell literature, music or films.

These creative products are now sold by street vendors and a lot of the products are pirated.

Most people have argued that music is  pirated because it is too expensive compared to the cost of production.

This article does not wish to get into this discussion, but to acknowledge that the pricing of an arts and culture product is very important in the success of any arts project. Now, if the price of the artefact is important, this begs the question as to how arts and culture products are priced. Are they priced the same way other products like clothing are?

The answer is yes. Arts and culture products follow the same pattern namely; quality, popularity, strength of label and real cost of production.

In pricing a music show, promoters are generally guided by the amount of money they used in organising the show as the minimum price index.

However, the promoter may also increase the price of the show if it is very popular because of the calibre of the artistes participating.

The popularity of the artistes may sometimes be associated with quality, although sometimes it may have something to do with strength of the marketing through media like radio, television, print and social.

Most visual artistes like stone sculptors price their work based on the size of the piece, the type of stone (with hard stone priced higher than softer ones), the quality of piece and the time spend in making the work.

Other considerations that usually may only be apparent when you compare the artiste’s work over a period of time include awards the artistes have received.

An award winning sculptor’s pieces usually costs more than a similar piece from a non-award winning artist.

This is the reason why it is crucial for artists to enter their works for awards because it gives their works and efforts more value.

This is value addition and beneficiation in the arts.

*Elvas Mari is the Director of National Arts Council of Zimbabwe

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