Convergence and new business models in the art world
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  • Post published:13/05/2021
  • Post last modified:13/05/2021

Amongst the key mega trends (those long-term, overarching trends that are transforming the way we live), the trends of technology convergence and new business models are particularly powerful.

The convergence of information technology, automation and intelligent mobility has resulted in driver-less cars, trains and trucks. The convergence of energy solutions, sensor technologies and building technologies is seeing the mushrooming of ‘smart buildings’. The convergence of consumer products, sensors and information technologies has created a whole new market for wearable devices. The convergence of aviation technologies, sensors and information technologies has extended the use of drones to a bewildering range of new applications.

Firecracker Starburst

It seems that almost no domain of human endeavour has been left untouched by the mega trend of technology convergence. And this disruption has thrown up new business models that are creating new markets, new types of competitors and new revenue streams.

So what about our weird and wonderful world of art?

The immediate impression may be to assume that artists – with their penchant for swimming against the tide – may in fact resist the mega trends of technology convergence and new business models that have the mass market in their intoxicatingly powerful embrace.

But the moment we look closer at every facet of art production and consumption, this idea loses any credibility.


Multimedia art has for a long time, been the classic example of convergence of different domains (for example, painting, photography, video, sculpture and performance art) for the common cause of art. But disruptive technologies are facilitating some whole new ways of making art. For example, additive manufacturing is now being leveraged to create 3D-printed artworks. In fact, the world’s largest 3D-printed object will be no component or machine, but the pavilions designed by New York’s SHoP Architects for the Design Miami fair.

Another example of innovation in making art is the crowd-sourced art project – a number of examples of which are springing up across the globe. These are open invitations to the public to paint, draw, upload photographs or video, or even partake in public performance art to create new works that are “more than the sum of their parts.” For example, the Million Masterpiece is a global arts project aiming to get artists and non-artists (1 million of them!) to contribute one small square each to a giant digital canvas.


Virtual tours of art galleries and museums enable us to get up close and personal with the greatest masterpieces of art without having to leave the comfort of our home. Of course, this does not replace the in-person experience, but 360 degree views, 3D simulations and online field trips provide a truly immersive experience that has helped make art accessible to all. A great example of this is the Google Arts & Culture project that lets you zoom into details of famous art works, undertake virtual tours and enjoy masterpieces from over a thousand leading museums and archives.


The Internet, cloud computing, social media and consumer apps are having a dramatic impact on the way artworks are marketed and sold. In fact, a number of artists are bypassing the traditional gallery to engage directly with their market through their online presence.

According to the Hiscox Online Art Trade Report 2016, global online art market sales totalled $3.27 billion, up 24% from the previous year. More importantly, 92% of online art buyers indicated that they expect to buy more or the same amount of art online in the next year.

In the visual arts, artists are experimenting with subscription programs to go beyond the one-off transaction with fans to a more ongoing and involved engagement with them that reduces the risk of volatility in demand, and consequently in income.

Transformation is also taking place in the way art is priced in the market. In 2007, the English rock band, Radiohead released a pay-what-you-want download of their studio album, ‘In Rainbows’; a high-profile example of artists giving their fans the freedom to set the price for the artwork they consume. A number of other music artists have since explored this new business model.

In the music industry today, a number of high profile stars have extended their revenue streams well beyond music album sales to encompass touring sponsorship, concert ticket sales, festival performances, online advertising revenues, merchandise, endorsements, paid social media posts, TV or film appearances, reality TV show mentoring roles, as well as revenues from investments in consumer product lines.


Self-publishing (the convergence of information technology and publishing) has revolutionised the publishing industry and helped emerging authors on art find a platform that would never have been possible in the conventional publishing universe.

Massive Online Open Courses (MOOCs) or free online courses allow anyone with the interest to dive into gothic architecture, jazz improvisation, classical music composition, impressionism, a poetry workshop, photography techniques, or any other art course you can think of.


In the final analysis, the disruption of art will threaten many careers, but also throw up new stars. Create new industries, but also hasten the end of hallowed institutions. It will redefine how art is created, consumed, marketed, sold and studied. The ones who will thrive in this transformation will be those who can recognise and respond to the headline as well as the imperceptible shifts in the markets, embrace change early and innovate in the way they engage. And for all of us fans of art, that can only be a good thing.


Photo Credit

Photo by Ivan Fernandez – All Rights Reserved


Guest Author Bio
Ivan Fernandez

Ivan FernandezBased in Sydney, Australia, Ivan is an industry consultant by profession, a die-hard classical music fan, a violinist and a painter, who is currently researching and writing on life lessons from art.

Follow Ivan on Twitter

Blog / Website: Changeless Friend



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