The Value of the Giveaway
A few years ago, (maybe more than a few; I can't remember; plus what number exactly constitutes a "few"?) while I was still employed at Student Life I wrote a spoken word piece. It was my job to write and create lot of things. That particular year this piece just happened to be one of them. I wrote it. Drew Francis directed it. Taylor Robinson shot it. Eric Chapman recorded the audio and mastered it. Jason Poole added some sweet graphics to it. And the incomparable Erin Moon performed it. The piece is entitled "Woman of No Distinction" but it's much more commonly known as "The Woman at the Well" since that's the story from the Bible upon which it's based and nowhere in the video is the title of the piece indicated. You can see the original below. (If you can't see the piece below, it's because your reader or device isn't displaying videos and you should click through directly to my blog.)
This video went viral, I guess. I mean, I don't know what are the precise criteria that have to be met in order for that to be true, but this video started floating around a lot of places and being seen and shared by a lot of people. Well, it wasn't long before people were simply transcribing the video and using the piece in other venues, even to make videos of their own. Below, I offer to you a selection of those videos.
As you can see, there's a decent amount of diversity other than all of the performers being women, but that's understandable. Some of these videos are well produced. Others are amateur shots of amateur performances. Some give credit to me as the author. Some credit myself and Drew, which is also understandable since the credits at the end of the original video are misleading. Some give no credit to authorship. One credits authorship to someone else entirely, namely Amena Brown, who is an extremely gifted spoken-word artist and sister in the faith (frankly, it's a little flattering to have people think she wrote it). However, none of these people own the copyright for this work. I don't even own it. Student Life does. As far as I know, none of them obtained permission from Student Life to perform the piece or to make a video of it.
Student Life could have gone after all of these people. They could have attempted to control and "protect" their content. But they didn't and they haven't. Whether intentionally or not, they've given it away. They've allowed it to spread as it would.
I think this is great. On some level I even think this is right. Student Life is a business, yes, but it's also a ministry. The original piece served it's purpose, and SL is able to continue to utilize it for ministry. However, by giving it away they have allowed it to become even more valuable. As it has struck a cord with people, those people have been able to freely share it so that it might minister to others, many if not most of whom Student Life would never have the opportunity to come in contact with.
This isn't an easy thing for creatives to do. But I wonder if it's an essential lesson for those creatives who are also Christian to learn. God has made us stewards of the creativity with which He has gifted us.
What kind of steward will you be?
What are you currently holding on to that you need to give away?