Tomes of books have been written about the Art of Doing Business, but today I want to say a few words about the Business of Making Art.
As a part-time musician and composer, one of my obsessions is helping musicians and artists in general to achieve their goals. These goals vary, and I can confidently say that more often than not, most artists I am talking to are not clear about what they want to achieve, or how to go about achieving it. So part of my task as a coach, is to help them understand in the first place what they actually want.
Being an artist often means that strong emotions are involved when it comes to your art. This makes it sometimes difficult to calmly and objectively evaluate what you need in do in order to be successful. The problem is often related to mindset as can be evidenced by the following symptoms:
- X-factor mentality: the idea that you have to ‘wait to be discovered’ by a gatekeeper
- The idea that once a label will sign you, your work as an artist is done, and all you need to do is concentrate on your art. The reality is that you will still have to do the work. Labels much prefer artists who have a proven track record of pulling crowds and selling merch, rather than unknown quantities
- The illusion that you need thousands or even millions of paying fans in order to make it; I’m sure you heard of Mr Ludwig Van Beethoven or Mr Johann Sebastian Bach. Neither of them had thousands of raving fans!
So why not ditch the misguided thinking above, and embrace the following instead:
- Apply marketing principles to your artistic career
- Know your audience
- Figure out your artistic niche and how to reach and engage your fans effectively
- Figure out how to consistently attract new fans
- Always give existing fans a great experience. Create ‘superfans’!
- Find 1000 fans who are willing to pay you £100 a year
- Ask for compensation for you efforts. Even as a beginning artist, you can negotiate getting paid for your petrol expenses; by setting clear expectations, you invest in your future career and build on your confidence at the same time
- Don’t listen to the artist’s myth that good art sells itself; It doesn’t. I know of plenty of talented artists who never reached the success they wanted, and less talented artists who reached success beyond their wildest dreams. They did this by figuring out how to make their offer appealing, so that their fans couldn’t resist!
In order to master the Business of Making Art, you first need to master the Art of Doing Business. This is possibly your most important insight on your way to conquer your fears and insecurities and to find the success you yearn for.