Podcast #42 – Being an artist and making money
This episode is for all the writers, visual artists, musicians, performers, filmmakers, photographers I know and don’t know.
I know that making money is not the first thing on your mind when you’re starting your practise, but you do need money to survive and be able to create more art for people who enjoy your output.
I’ve been working in arts & culture for about 15 years now, so I know exactly what I’m talking about. I’m currently coaching, amongst other professions, artists and I worked with numerous artists as a curator, program maker and event organizer. I’m gonna refrain myself from sharing my opinion on the system, this episode is to help you as an artist personally, because that’s what will help you.
So money and art: this has literally been an eternal struggle for artists; why are you actually an entrepreneur when you’re making art? And I even know there’s someone listening really not liking the word entrepreneur, but my message for you is to embrace it, make it yours, because with some easy to apply strategies, you might actually be able to make more out of the work you’re putting into your output each and every day.
And yes, the internet has really changed the scope, but instead of reminiscing about better times (remember my Spice Girls episode?) – let’s see what the internet can do for you.
I am starting with 4 examples on what it was:
Music: big labels, money, undemocratic, tours, merch
Now: online, spotify and apple music hold all the chips, living of royalties if you’re lucky being aired on the radio which is making quite some money, tours, merch.
Difficult to stand out, but more opportunity to step in
Writers: this has never made a lot of money, I once let one of my clients calculate her hourly rate for writing her book and I think she got to 2 cents per hour ;-). So it’s more of the other things that will actually make you money
Films: Back in 2015 I was asked to speak at the Dutch Film Festival about how streaming has definitely changed the film-world, but how there’s an opportunity to create an extra experience for visitors and actually most cinemas are still thriving. The only problem is, because of ‘regional film rights’ it’s very difficult to unlock more films and I believe this should (at first) be solved at an European level to make this more attainable for smaller parties to for instance start up a streaming platform, because right now it’s very difficult.
Because of this, some films, which are one of the costliest artistic products out there, only will be viewed by only a handful of people.
But there might be some opportunity here as well by streaming this by yourself.
The same goes for performers, visual artists who perform and exhibit in theaters and museums, most of these organizations don’t have a lot of budget to let you perform or exhibit and they’re even getting hit hard right now because of climate installations and non-returning visitors.
So now the big question:
What can you do now?
There’s so many things you actually can do thanks to this day and age and it’s easier than ever.
You can create your own:
- write a column
- online auctions
- sell prints of your originals artwork
- sell on etsy
- set up a limited number of private commissions
- create tutorials
- speaking gigs
- create tunes for commercial purposes
- other output which derives from your personal brand
How to choose which one you want to explore?
- Think about the cause, what is your goal? Is that to reach as many people as you can? Who needs to hear this? What is your purpose?
- Brainstorm the things that you really like doing aside from your artist practice, if you are a visual artist who likes to write, consider writing a paid column, if you’re a musician who likes to draw, consider creating merchandise
- Think about your messaging; the last thing you want is that people think you’re a sell-out, what is the reason why you need to do this? Write this down for yourself and tweak this message throughout the year.
- Think about how to leverage your new income stream, what can you do to grow this and create a compound effect so that it feels like you’re stacking from there. Create 3 different scenarios and how much work you want to spend on this.
How to reach your audience?
I probably don’t have to tell you this, of course through social media, but consider creating a newsletter too (and actually send out updates with interesting content, things you like. How you’ll do it is up to you) and do not forget to drive people to subscribe.
Maybe you can consider organizing an event with other artists, joining an art fair or anything that might increase the visibility of your work.
You did not become an artist to think about this.
If you like doing this, go for it, figure it out yourself.
If not, ask people to help you: publishers, managers, coaches.
Look at if their success is just ‘press’, a few gigs for a couple of 100 euros, but see if these managers actually really understand what it’s like to survive being an artist in this time (instead of 20 years ago) and actually help you with this, then that’s a match.
And if you like this episode, I’m offering GROUNDBREAKING, an 11 euro online pre-recorded training which dives much deeper into this material, how to actually set this up.
It’s a limited offer, during the Black Friday weekend, which is the last Friday of November.
You can find the waitlist in the shownotes, hope to see you on the inside!
Thanks for reading, share this with friends who need to hear this and see you next week.