Like music, painting and the visual arts are a creative field where material is already being offered on the Internet, but the lack of a convenient way to find items that meet user’s standards of quality has up to now proved a hindrance.
If music critics are interested in earning ongoing income from their online recommendations, why wouldn’t art critics be also?
Here again, expanding the supply of gatekeepers solves the problem at its source.
People’s tastes in art vary widely. Why should the function of matching available visual content to such a broad range of tastes be left to the small set of people who can afford to open full-blown art galleries? It is precisely this limitation on physical display space that currently keeps so many capable artists from reaching their natural markets.
The same online service that transforms the way people find new music can replace the limited number of gallery owners with a broad spectrum of "taste mavens" of all kinds.
Potential buyers should be able to enter their zip codes and the number of miles they are willing to drive to see a piece of art in person, then select a critic, local arts writer, or other entity whose tastes they trust, and be taken straight to photos of material that is most likely to appeal to them.
When they find a painting or other artwork they like well enough to want to see in person, they should be able to simply click on a button and be provided the artist's address and other contact information, to enable them to make appropriate arangements.
As with music, the people who guide other people to material they like could be paid based on their performance.
Whenever a potential buyer uses the online service to arrange to see a piece of art, the "taste maven" whose recommendation connected the person to the artwork could be paid a small referral fee. The online service could then in turn collect this fee from the artist whose work was discovered.
To ensure that the costs to the artist remain reasonable and affordable, a fee cap could be set at, say 10% of the asking price of the artwork. A sliding payment scale could also be used, where the first referral to a piece of art might cost a dollar or two, while later referrals would only cost a penny or so, until the overall payment cap is reached--at which point any subsequent referrals would be free.
Art buyers, art critics and writers, and artists would all benefit from this system.
So would even traditional art galleries, because participation in the system would afford them an excellent low-cost marketing tool. (Participating galleries would simply pay the referral fees for the artists whose work they represent.)
The net effect would be to make more high-quality artwork available to more people, at the same time that more artists are able to connect with them and make a living from their work.
Isn't this exactly the type of environment in which the arts are best able to thrive?