Inevitably comes the discussion every artist hates to hear: how are we going to make money? Eventually having amazing products with great craftsmanship and artistry simply does not cut it. What is happening through that to make a living?
This is an awkward discussion at the heart of it. Are we more like the court jesters of old on the payroll of king’s playing for their pleasure and at their command? Or are we the savvy entrepreneurs turning our art into a business enterprise?
Most artists see the “business” side of their work as a necessary evil. They “have” to do this and that. They have to be incorporated, they need an accountant and so on. Some, relative few, see the great potential of making it “big” in their world.
Most daydream about Daddy Warbucks passionately patroning their art without ever encroaching on their creative freedom. Whether its a record label or a publisher or a gallerist, there is some entity out there that can realistically meet that need.
But this is where the dance begins. Some artists will lean almost immediately into that need, taking the first person who comes their way claiming to give them everything they want. They will too quickly jump into the business-side in desperation.
The artist must be patient. He must hone his craft, continue to deliberately determine his course first. The artist has to create the initial buzz. He must push through the initial stages of starting to create a bit of momentum.
This initial period is very hard. It will seem simply overwhelming. It will appear at times hopeless. Push through. One thing at a time. Find one person who can assist in the administrative tasks. Leverage your community and friend resources.
But never forget your primary task: the creative enterprise. Never forget your end product, in music for example, is not a great video or a stunning website. It is the music. And it is learning to invite people into the music with you.
Know your audience. Do you want to make art for elitists (who use art without really consuming it for their advantage)? OR do you want to encourage everyday people getting stuck in the grind of life? Or is it somewhere in between?
We must not forget the myth-making power of art. It has the power to captivate the imagination and inspire great virtue deep in the human heart. We consume it because it gives us some sort of mirror into ourselves and into reality.
That process is worth the effort of going through all the legalities and monetary hassles to make it happen. Many great artists simply get stuck in the how and forget that the art inspires even the how. The instructions are all there in the art.
Think of it: even your business and administrative people find something in the art that captivates them. They are early adopters and even fans. To continue to create and perform inspires and reminds them why they do it and its power.
There is power. Bottom line. Are there ways to discover the outcomes of art and to measure its success in connecting? Probably. Goosebumps are enough for most people. And the sense that they are elevated through the art.