Make money. There, I said it. And I’m not gonna apologize for it either.
I recently had a friend who told me she was having a conversation with someone and was asked, what is it about Chelsea you like. Her honest answer, “She knows how to make money.”
So, okay, ask most artists in my inner circle and they will tell you that I am all about the bottom line.
There is somewhat of a walking contradiction in most artists today. It is the duality of mind in these two opposing viewpoints – one is that money and commerce corrupt the purity of the art; the other is that any one of them would give their first born to quit their day job. What gives?
I have been preaching for years on the idea that the starving artist mentality is BS. This is the major thing that is destroying your career. You are okay with not making money. You have a problem asking for money.
But think of it this way: your favorite artists – Spielberg, Adele, Dane Cook, Al Pacino. They all have money. Yes they have put out a few stinkers. But they have done some amazing stuff that they are really proud of. Think of the One for Them, One for Me principle.
Think of it this way, the more money you make the more time you have to make more art, the more time you have to make more money. You think your art is good, right? You think you are providing something of value to the world, right? Then why would you not want to make more of it faster?
Let’s talk about this idea of value. The more value you provide, the more money you will make. It is as simple as that. You will receive money in relation to the number of people you affect. If you do a good job and you affect a lot of people you will be able to make more money.
So, there are two things you must concentrate on here – improve your value and reach more people. It is as simple as that.
Now I know it is easy enough to say, but that’s how it is. You hate to admit it – and maybe you haven’t admitted it and that may be your first problem – but you are a salesman. And a salesman knows this: he’s got to run the numbers.
When I was in sales the numbers worked like this: 10-3-1. For every 10 people you invite, three will show up and one will buy. Now, I actually want to go on record to say that the numbers don’t work like that in cyberspace. Sorry, they don’t. If you want to increase your odds, you can’t just rely on a Facebook invite. 200 Facebook invites does not equate to 20 people buying your album. You know that. You actually have to contact them directly to increase your odds. Pick up the phone. Meet them in person. Most people, I have found, don’t actually pay attention to Facebook invites nowadays and didn’t even know you had a show, though you invited them a month ago. So, run the numbers, but do it in a more organic and human way. Technology is making you lazy. Get out there and hustle.
Another thing that the salesman knows that you should take a cue from? Find your market. The salesman knows: not everyone is going to want what he’s selling. Likewise, not everyone is going to like your music, your comedy, your art. It is not your job to make them. It is your job to find the ones who do. Stop bashing your brother-in-law over the head with your latest CD. A pity purchase is no help in building your fan base. Stop asking your grandma which of your 8 million serial killer jokes she likes. They’re not your audience. They love you. They do. But you are wasting your time. Not only are you wasting your time, you’re wearing out your welcome. You want to grow your fan base not shrink it. You can only call in favors so long with your friends. If they don’t like your music, if you play heavy metal and they listen to classical and jazz, this should be a sign to you. There are so many people that like heavy metal; stop selling to jazz-lovers!
So, in summary:
1) Run the numbers.
2) Make it personal.
3) Find your market.
4) Make money.
These are the simple things you should be concentrating on.
And as much as you might hate the idea that you are a salesman, remember these two things: 1) It’s better to be a working artist who sells himself, than a some-time artist waiting tables, and 2) Everything is sales. You had to sell yourself to your wife at some point, right?
Don’t take it personally if someone doesn’t like what you do. Do what the salesman does: “Next. Every ‘no’ is closer to a ‘yes’.”
Get yourself out there and keep going. Eventually, you’ll see yourself retiring your day job to become an artist full-time. And, boy, it will all be worth it.
Stay hungry. Stay Well-Fed.
The Well-Fed Artist – featured in the 9 o’clock hour on Radio Soapbox every Monday night. Listen live or listen to the archives.
Latest posts by C.R. Cohen (see all)
- Lose Your Delusions: The How & Why of Creative Discipline - October 14, 2013
- Week 7: Tips to Help Artists Market More Efficiently - October 14, 2013
- Week 6: The Artist’s Platform – What Agents, Publishers & Record Execs are Looking for Now - October 7, 2013