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Creative Industries: Contracts between Art and Commerce [Paperback]

Richard E. Caves

Price: CDN$ 35.94 & FREE Shipping. Details
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Book Description

May 30 2002 New Edition (2nd & Subsequent) / 1st Harvard University Pres

This book explores the organization of creative industries, including the visual and performing arts, movies, theater, sound recordings, and book publishing. In each, artistic inputs are combined with other, "humdrum" inputs. But the deals that bring these inputs together are inherently problematic: artists have strong views; the muse whispers erratically; and consumer approval remains highly uncertain until all costs have been incurred.

To assemble, distribute, and store creative products, business firms are organized, some employing creative personnel on long-term contracts, others dealing with them as outside contractors; agents emerge as intermediaries, negotiating contracts and matching creative talents with employers. Firms in creative industries are either small-scale pickers that concentrate on the selection and development of new creative talents or large-scale promoters that undertake the packaging and widespread distribution of established creative goods. In some activities, such as the performing arts, creative ventures facing high fixed costs turn to nonprofit firms.

To explain the logic of these arrangements, the author draws on the analytical resources of industrial economics and the theory of contracts. He addresses the winner-take-all character of many creative activities that brings wealth and renown to some artists while dooming others to frustration; why the "option" form of contract is so prevalent; and why even savvy producers get sucked into making "ten-ton turkeys," such as Heaven's Gate. However different their superficial organization and aesthetic properties, whether high or low in cultural ranking, creative industries share the same underlying organizational logic.

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From Booklist

Caves is a Harvard professor of political economy and author of a number of books on industrial efficiency, productivity, and competition. He admits to a two-decade fascination with the economics of the artistic and creative endeavor, but Caves worries that others may regard this interest as "frivolous." Consequently, he thought it better to establish his "reputation for professional seriousness" before attempting this analysis. Caves looks at the visual and performing arts, cinema and television, sound recordings, book publishing, and toys and games to investigate how the theory of contracts and the logic of economic organization affect the production of "simple creative goods" and more "complex goods" like plays or motion pictures, which require teams of artists with diverse talents. Under Caves' scrutiny, art collectors and moviegoers are consumers; gallery owners are "gatekeepers"; and critics are "certifiers." His work is both serious and scholarly and anything but "frivolous." David Rouse
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.


Creative Industries will appeal to the growing community of social scientists and humanists who are interested in and write about cultural policy. Even the economics-averse among them will have no excuse to avoid this gracefully written volume. It promises to be a much-needed touchstone for work in cultural economics, the sociology of art and culture, and the interdisciplinary field of arts and cultural policy analysis. (Paul DiMaggio, Professor of Sociology, Princeton University)

[Caves] uses contract and industrial-organization theory to throw light on how and why the industries producing cultural goods and services--from literature to film, from rock music to opera--work as they do...Caves does not engage issues of ideology, nor of the political or economic importance of the arts, but simply sees the creative industries as fascinating areas of economic activity which have been largely neglected by economists...By documenting a wide range of commercial interactions across the creative industries, this comprehensive and immensely readable book shows persuasively that economic theory can help us understand the sheer business of making art happen. (David Throsby Times Literary Supplement 2000-12-15)

Richard Caves has filled a very large gap: until now virtually no one has addressed the economic organization of the arts and culture. This is a highly accessible work, in which huge volumes of scholarly and popular work have been uncovered, absorbed and assimilated in the finished product.Creative Industries is a splendid book. (Richard Netzer, Professor of Economics and Public Administration, Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service, New York University)

Creative Industries explores the economics of the arts in exacting detail. With great skill and originality, Caves has analysed the economic forces operating in music, book publishing, painting, the theatre and movies. (Winston Fletcher Times Higher Education Supplement 2001-05-04)

Caves presents an excellent and readable discussion of the economics and organization of the creative arts industry…Using an enormous amount of qualitative information, Caves combines the theory of contracts (a new development) with the economics of industrial organization to explain institutional arrangements (the contractual strategies of the market mediators) between artists (authors, actors, performers) and consumers. (R. A. Miller CHOICE)

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Amazon.com: 4.3 out of 5 stars  3 reviews
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The underlying economic principles for many industries Jan. 12 2007
By Gabriel Natividad - Published on Amazon.com
Dozens of books on entertainment industries come out every year, but only few survive the test of time. This is one of them, and not precisely for the encyclopedic amount of information and references it presents (you can actually get many more references by sending an email to the author), or for its practical value --which in my opinion is high. The value of this book boils down to its elegant treatment of the economic logic behind seemingly unrelated businesses like moviemaking or ballet. The chapter on contracts for creative products is truly illuminating.

The author provides upfront the seven basic economic principles that affect all creative industries:

1. Demand is uncertain

2. Creative workers care about their product

3. Some creative products require diverse skills

4. Differentiated products.

5, 6, 7: read them yourself.

While everybody in the entertainment world might have their own list, this one is written and carefully developed by Richard Caves.

The format might be intimidating to some (e.g., no pictures, no tables, no flashy stuff), so don't buy it if you are not willing to invest a little time and brains to profit from the author's reasoning.
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars Aug. 30 2014
By Melinda G. - Published on Amazon.com
In excellent condition
5 of 10 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Okay for a look-see, but maybe not a great buy, per se. Jan. 3 2007
By B. Thompson - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Upon the suggestion of a very famous academic I purchased this text. This book is written by a famous Harvard economist, and I now know how much these highly esteemed professors can get away with. If you are looking for middle of the road quotes and want a new source for them, this book will easily do the trick. If you are seeking out a illuminating cover to cover text dealing with either Creative Industries or flat out Economics this book may leave you flat.

In all honesty, I did not complete this text and there is a strong likelihood that I never will. This is not to say it is without merits entirely (please note that I did give it 3 stars). It is just that the book very long and lacks an intimate feel of solidarity with either the artistic side or the commerce dealers. It covers a lot of ground, and I do believe that my wallet would have been better served if I had just spent an afternoon at the local University library thumbing the text and xeroxing what I deemed relevant.

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