"Until then, we're left with a patchwork of hobbyists, bloggers, corporate promo, online mail-order and desperate screaming pop-up ads. The artists among us are relegated to noble failures and lovable martyrs--giving away their art for nothing 'til the rent is due and they have to go back to flipping burgers. I know far too many of these people to accept Shirky's placid scenario. They're tired, they're frustrated, and they're quitting in droves."
Well... yeah, that's the point, the "artists" among you are tired, frustrated, quitting in droves, giving away your 'art' for free because you =ARE= just a patchwork of Amateur Doodlers and Scribblers, hobbyists, bloggers, and burger-flippers who Aren't Good Enough to actually get PAID for that 'art' in the real commercial world!
"The artists among us" - Jeez get over yourself.
If you were R. Crumb people with serious MONEY would be knocking down your door to publish it.
What you and BitPass are trying to do is invent a new "Economy in the Margins" that lives in the cracks of the existing market system. And hey who knows, maybe with mass broadband and a way to meter teeny-weeny payments there might be enough customers to sustain a new micro-market economy.
Although, that very same scheme has failed in various forms over the years for game programmer wanna-be's who write their first Doom mod and figure someone somewhere must be willing to pay a couple bucks to play it. Bzzzt sorry, the free stuff is just as good, and as soon as it becomes Real Good (ie Commercial Quality), surprise surprise, along comes a commercial publisher willing to publish it in the existing commercial market.
Don't quit your McJob just yet.