How to become a Sustainable Artist

Everybody wants to make a living from their Art, the question is, how do we do that? This podcast addresses all the factors you need to consider when making the switch from what you are doing now to dedicating all of your time, attention and resources towards being an artist.

  1. Define your expectation - In the How to be a Successful Artist podcast, the first point I discuss is defining what success means to YOU. If you just want to be able to quit your job, that is one expectation, if you want to become an international sensation, that is a different expectation and both require different level of time and resources to achieve.
  2. Understand your costs - Depending on your expectation, you're going to have to figure out how much it's going to cost for you to live the life you want. If driving a new car is important to your lifestyle, that unnecessary cost may detract from your ability to become an independent and self sustaining artist. Same goes for any other costs you incur on a daily, monthly and yearly basis. Recurring subscriptions, bar tabs, car payments, etc. The more financial obligations you have, the more you're going to have to keep up with.
  3. What art are you going to turn into product? - In the 14 Things a Real Artist does podcast I talk about the difference between Art and Product. If you're creating art on a daily basis, or creating frequently, some of it is inevitably going to turn into product. Product is art that meets a demand in the marketplace. Looking at the numbers can tell us what will become product. For example, in my podcast statistics, the top podcasts are the Things Gals Need to Remove from Dating Apps Immediately, The 14 Things a Real Artist Does and Listen to this Before you Drive your camper through Mexico. What this says is that these subjects are of interested to people and they should be turned into product. That being said, I am writing a master's class on things women can do to improve their dating apps. I would also like to do some in depth classes on how to improve your artistic career. There is demand in both of those places and where there is demand there is an opportunity to sell.
  4. Choosing the most important activities by looking at the data - This kind of speaks to the art vs. product. If you see something getting significant demand, you might want to focus more attention there. This does not mean you have to stop creating other stuff, but it does mean if you are going to be a sustainable artist, you need to monetize what's working. I've done a lot of things in my career that didn't work. It could have been because I wasn't focused on the right aspect of my idea or because I was presenting to the wrong audience. Whatever the case, the failures teach us where the successes are. For example, I have played in venues where my blues material went over better than my singer-songwriter material or someone didn't like a hip hop song I did because they weren't a hip hop fan. All of these things can help direct us towards where to go next.
  5. Keep in touch with your people - The biggest place where artists fail is not keeping in touch with their audience. The mainstream music industry has failed significantly and continues to fail significantly in this regard. Some of these mainstream labels don't even email the fanbases of their artists except for a tour announcement. I mean, maybe they have figured out that the fans only want to hear from them when there is a tour announcement, but if you keep those fans more engaged you can sell them more product and ultimately generate your label more income. Just a thought. You don't have to inundate your fans, but I do think it's important to stay in touch. Emails and SMS text messages are a great way to do this.
  6. Get gigs in front of the right audience - If you're not selling to the right audience, your chances of selling product to them are going to be low or non-existent. You always hear the whole "it would be great exposure" myth right? But do you really want exposure to people who don't care about your material? The answer is no, you don't. You're never going to convince those people. So look at how you can align your music with venues who appreciate your style. Not every venue is going to want to book you. If you're a gangster rapper, don't waste your time with coffee shops. If you don't play music people can dance to, don't try to force your way into a blues club. If you can develop a compelling body of music to appeal to a wide range of audiences, then maybe you can play the coffee shop and the blues club. Whatever the case, don't try to be everything to everyone. Unless you're a master worth of praise like me capable of providing something for everybody.
  7. Stay sober - This is the fundamental human challenge that many artists will face. How do you defeat the self-defeating attitude that seems to be ever-present in your entire being? One way is to limit the amount of toxic substances you put into your body. While alcohol may elevate our level of excitement initially, the higher we climb, the farther we fall. Alcohol is a depressant, so if you're consuming on a regular basis, the next day is going to be brutal and affect your stamina and trajectory. If you can focus your mind to pour all of that pent up energy into your work, you can transmute that emotion into your creations, especially the negative energy that you have been trying to suppress. Let it all come out. That's what you art is for. It is there so you can.
  8. Focus on daily practice and process - If you are not staying dedicated to a daily routine of creation combined with analyzing your progress, you are not going to become a sustainable artist. The process is creating art daily, then putting it out to the world, and advertising it, whatever the hell you do to build the brand. Once you do this, you can then start to analyze your results. The results tell you where to focus your energy. Its like this show I was watching on Netflix called Yukon Gold. These guys have a general idea where the gold is and begin digging and testing or panning to determine whether or not to keep digging. This is them analyzing their results. If the dirt is producing a good amount of gold for them, they turn on their sleuthing machine full speed and turn it into a full-scale production. If that process doesn't yield them a result, they change their strategy and find a new spot to dig but the goal remains the same. That being said, your goal is to focus on the daily practice and process of creating. This will ultimately make you a master worthy of produce and turn art into product.
  9. Persevere - I am not saying you have to stay positive, but you have to keep moving. Opportunities are created when you keep moving and stay dedicated to your craft. At the end of the day, I am just a normal guy that has become successful because I didn't give up on what I wanted to do and because I took my small wins and put them away for the tough times. Real artists keep moving and understand that perseverance is key to becoming sustainable.
  10. Understand that these principals are applicable to every area of business - You don't have to be an artist to think like one. Being an artist is about opening up your mind and expanding your ability to see the possibilities in every situation. There are many business people that are artists and they don't even realize it. Steve Jobs was an artist, in my opinion. He simplified a complex product and made it easy to use and aesthetically pleasing to the masses. He turned an inanimate machine that was once ugly and made it beautiful.

Whatever your set of problems are, whatever you're struggling to make sustainable, put your spin on it and make it beautiful, watch the metrics, analyze the successes and failures, promote and elaborate on what works and you will become a sustainable artist.