Selling work for sound-based work in the art world can be difficult as there is no material object in the same sense as a painting or sculpture. Sometimes it is possible to create unique commodities from limited-edition hand-crafted records or vinyl. There is, however, a growing number of sound artists who are represented by commercial galleries. Artists such as Florian Hecker and Haroon Mirza have been represented at Lisson Gallery. To be represented by a gallery requires an established reputation and art practice. It takes time to build relationships with galleries and to build value for your work in the private sector. Present your work in exhibitions and connect with commercial galleries who have an interest in contemporary art practices in sound, installation and media art. There are, however, many artist-lead independent art spaces and media art spaces that support a range of projects, exhibitions and practices in sound.
Words of Advice
You need to work hard and constantly show your work. In my experience, it’s only wise to send your material to a gallery if they request it. BA and MA shows and good-quality open-submission programmes are the best way to get noticed. Some artist-led spaces like Generator Projects in Dundee and Studio Voltaire in London accept proposals. Getting involved with an artist-led initiative is also a good way to get involved with stuff.
– Haroon Mirza
Selling work can also mean selling records or recordings or hand-made objects. Creating limited editions can be a strategy to raise an item's value. Carefully crafted objects and unique packaging can make it a novelty item. In 2007, Danish musician and composer Goodiepal created a limited edition of 45 copies of his Mort Aux Vaches Ekstra handcrafted and binded box set, which was exhibited at Andersen's Contemporary in Copenhagen, where it quickly rose in value.
Goodiepal handcrafted boxset
FM3's Buddha Machine is an example of how one can conceptualise and package work for manufacturing and sale. Taken from the concept of the small and cheap audio devices playing chant loops from Buddhist temples, FM3 borrowed the machine and inserted their own loops and sounds. The devices have been manufactured and produced, and are now available in numerous colours and styles. As an object and instrument, the Buddha Machine sells for between £15 and£20 each. FM3's Buddha Machine is a unique musical idea that has developed into a profitable model for their work and creative practice.
It is difficult to make a living from selling records as digital has overtaken the sale of CDs and records. There continues to be a market for vinyl for collectors of rare and obscure material. Even so, records are a great way to promote yourself and your work. By giving them away at events or gigs, people have something to remember you by and they appreciate the gesture. On an odd chance, they may pick it up again in the future and contact you for a new opportunity.