Artist – Act Like a Business?
We’ve all heard it before. An artist must “act like a business” or risk an impoverished existence. I appreciate the thought: Without ceaseless attention to things like planning, budgeting, organizing and marketing a music career will more often sway off course, and be thrown onto the rocks of good intentions.
But “act like a business?”
Why aim so low?
The metaphors we live by are very important along the road to success.
Businesses aren’t exactly models of success. Most new businesses (7 out of 10) fail within seven years. The majority of businesses are poorly run with “management incompetence” being the primary reason for all those failures. It doesn’t take much insight to see that most businesses practice mediocrity rather than greatness. “Business” also tends to have its own set of values – values a business owner/family member would never practice at home.
So telling artists to act like a business is like telling them to lower their standards or to “aim low”.
We propose a different metaphor:
Artists should see themselves as expressive Energy Grids.
Think about it:
Grids generate energy: Artists generate energy through relationship-building, practicing their craft, and expressing their art;
Grids transform energy: Artists transform their energy through sharing their talent with audiences; and then multiplying that talent through collaborative projects.
Grids distribute energy: artists distribute their energy in multiple directions through multiple mediums and creative activities.
And in order for an energy grid to do its work it must be grounded – that is, connected to the dirt, rocks, water, etc. of earth. Optimal health of your brand comes from a practiced awareness of our inter-connection with the environment you inhabit.
We refer to managing one’s business as “conducting energy”. Conducting. Conduction. Electricity. Energy. See the relationship?
Business is just one component of the multi-dimensional artist. Business can provide tools and strategies for organizing and expanding our creative work. But artists (really, all creative workers) shouldn’t just act like a business. That’s way too low of a target. Artists are expressive grids of energy – generating, transforming and distributing continually.