A theory on the commercial viability of creative works

In the middle of two circles representing the esoteric and the plebian

Some people say, “You’ve got to be totally out of the box to do something that’s successful.” Others believe in doing something that people already know.

Both sides have a point.

For a creative work to be commercially successful, it should be unique. That uniqueness is represented by the Esoteric circle above; see how it’s in left field.

The plebeian circle represents common things. Things that have been done already–like postage stamps, soap. The public already understands these things.

Commercially viable inventions fit somewhere in between these two circles. They are, at the same time, unique and understandable by the masses. The combination makes people want to buy them.

The iPhone is a good example. When the iPhone first came out, it was unique because it only had 1 button. Yet, it was common enough that people knew what it was–a phone.

In my opinion, creativity shouldn’t be judged by its commercial viability. There is much benefit in singing a tune that has never been sung before–even if it doesn’t sell a million copies.

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