Creatives. Colorful, passionate, expressive. They create the most beautiful pieces of art and music and performance. They challenge us to shift our thinking, they inspire us, and they make us shake our heads in disbelief. I love creatives. Truly, a world without art would be misery.
But—there is always a but—we can’t forget the other side of creativity and the changing face of the art, photography, music, and performance scenes.
Back in the old days the key to success was access and distribution. You needed an agent, a gallery, and a distribution network. This was the only way to get your art in front of the people who would lay money down and buy your works.
That system actually worked really well for artists. The path was clear. You had to work your butt off to get to the point where an agent would sign you. And with that stamp of approval, finding clients and making a living became easier and easier.
You see, artists are creatives for many reasons. Below are the five most important.
- They have no choice but to express what is inside of them.
- They are completely unemployable (I count myself in this group) or are too opinionated.
- They believe rules are meant to be bent and broken.
- They despise the rat race and the notion of working only for a paycheck.
- They MUST create or they die inside.
That is all wonderful and admirable, yet there is one more thing about creatives that makes the list above difficult to maneuver.
CREATIVES HATE SELLING.
That is why the original model from the good old days worked so well. If you had an agent or representation it meant someone believed in you. You made the grade and whatever you produced held enough value that someone else wanted to sell it for you, for a small fee. The more representation you had, the more valuable your creative contribution.
Then the middle-man model collapsed. Suddenly, shameless self-promoters, narcissists, and ego-maniacs who knew how to work the new system became more successful than the hard working and more talented.
Wait a minute, so many of us thought, here is the disrupter model at work. We were right, and it has a name: cutting out the middle man.
It’s a huge game changer. I predicted a few years back that artist representatives would, for the most part, go away except for a few power houses who manage the elite. We already see the trouble stock syndications are in, and the trend of getting lots of “good enough” for much cheaper is already reverting to fewer sales although of higher quality.
This creates a big predicament. Creatives are realizing now they themselves have to sell their ideas, creations, and expressions. There are very few alternatives left. Sure, you can still find representation in a diminishing market. However, many of my former colleagues (I used to be a rep) have gone out of business, expanded, or shifted gears into different industries.
(Not sure if you can claim to be a creative entrepreneur? Here’s a fun article that will help clarify your status.)
So how can YOU go it alone? The first step is to build your authority platform. Tell the world who you are and why they should want to work with you. I taught a course on exactly this not too long ago. Here is the link to the CreativeLive course that will teach you how it’s done.
The pressure is yours alone to get the word out there about how amazing you are. It really is a double whammy.
In my next article I’ll explain the path to success for creative entrepreneurs and how you can build your following from the ground up.