Bob Baker's Artist Empowerment Blog

The Creative Pro-Am Revolution

Are you part of the revolution, or are you just watching from (or oblivious on) the sidelines? What am I talking about? Read on ...

The U.K. think tank Demos published a free report last year called The Pro-Am Revolution, subtitled "How enthusiasts are changing our economy and society." It's described this way:

From astronomy to activism, from surfing to saving lives, Pro-Ams -- people pursuing amateur activities to professional standards -- are an increasingly important part of our society and economy. chimes in with its own definition:

Pro-Am is a conceptual term to describe a blurring between the distinction of professional and amateur, within any endeavor that could be called professional, such as writing, sports, computer programming, music, film, etc.

In the introduction to Unleash the Artist Within, I describe the three basic modes that people engage their creativity:

  • Mode #1: Full-time -- they make a living doing music, books, art, etc.
  • Mode #2: Part-time and working toward full-time -- they may work a day job or do something else to make ends meet now, but they aspire to some day earn a living from their talents.
  • Mode #3: Part-time and satisfied -- they do not aspire (or don't think it's possible) to play music, write or create art full-time.

Generally speaking, people in Mode #1 are considered professional, those in Mode #2 are either semi-professional or amateur, and people in Mode #3 are amateur. (This definition has nothing to do with the quality of someone's work; I'm referring strictly to a person's money-making status.)

In the past, creative people in modes #2 and #3 often suffered from an inferiority complex. (Most still do, actually.) If a writer or musician wasn't making a living doing their thing, they felt they hadn't proved themselves yet -- that maybe they were kidding themselves in thinking they could do something meaningful with such a fanciful hobby.

Well, the Pro-Am Revolution is showing that you can create a quality creative product, reach thousands of people with it, and make an impact with your art, music, prose, film and more ... while working at your craft part-time, sometimes without even leaving the house. Advancing technology and the Internet are making this revolution possible. And it's only going to get stronger.

As Andrew Taylor says on his blog, "It's likely one of the fundamental dynamic shifts in the way creative work will be conceived, created, distributed, and received in the coming decade."

For more on this, check out the BBC story 'Amateur Culture' Set to Explode. The subhead says it all: "The 21st Century is seeing an explosion in the field of amateur culture and creativity."

So, regardless of your current mode or status, I ask you again ...

Are you part of the revolution?


  • Very interesting - makes me think during a crossroad for me.

    The ability to make "microdollars" from music or programming that may or may not turn into a full time (making a living) pursuit is an amazing power of the internet. Also being an amateur 'store owner' online.

    The world of work/leisure is changing.


    Chris Adams

    By Anonymous Chris Adams, At 12:36 PM  

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