Tag Archives: artists

Whose fault is it if there is no audience?

Happy Friday to you and happy first day of November.  I hope you had a fun Halloween.  I ended up dressing in my devil horns and going to our local Mexican restaurant that we love.  They were all dressed in costumes to the nines!  It was a fun evening.

Yesterday, I also had a conversation with a visual artist and an email from a storyteller.  The visual artist has published books about marketing art, yet despite blogging and putting some links online, he is not getting much of an audience (yes, I see the irony too).  He mentioned that he did go with a publisher, but they are not doing much for him.

The storyteller had a gig on Halloween at a local library.  It was a cold, wet, windy night, and no one showed up for the event. She ended up doing her stories for 3 librarians since she was already contracted.

So, in these two scenarios, whose fault is it that they didn’t have an audience, or a bigger audience?  You can blame the publisher and the library.  Right?  They were supposed to do the marketing for you, especially if it is a part of your contract with them.  You can blame the weather, although if it is cold, wet and windy, an inside gig would be a good thing, and it was free to the public.

I hope you don’t get too ruffled, but it is also the artists’ fault.  In this day and age, you can’t rely on someone else to do the work of audience building for you.  They simply do not care as much as you, even if they are being paid.  You are the one that wants an audience.  An audience or bigger audience will help them, but you are the one that really, really wants that audience!

Many individual artists mention that they don’t have the time.  However, I see many artists on social media networks just as much as the next person.  They also say they don’t think doing it on their own would work, yet they could build a team of people to support their efforts in spreading the word, just like anybody else.  I also hear they don’t have the money to hire someone to help them with audience development work.  I found out that a few resourceful artists have built a team of interns to help them get done what they need to do.  I do want to point out that some of these artists are paying for marketing ads and other services (such as online galleries that claim they will help sell your art).  If those avenues are not working for you, why not use those monetary resources for someone to help you with audience development instead?

The main point is, individual artists can build a team of support to do audience development, and for good effective audience development, you need a team.  And again, artists can reallocate the funds that they do have to be earmarked instead for audience development help.

No wonder the efforts of the publisher and library may have fallen flat. They most certainly didn’t have you 100% on their team, and you are needed as the number one team member.

Here’s what I am thinking.  When there is a will, there is a way.  And, whatever you focus on is what is going to happen.  If you focus on blaming the other person for not building you an audience, you are going to get more of this.  If you focus on figuring out ways within your means (and you do have means) to help build your audience, you will get an audience.  You, despite wanting to give this work to someone else, do need to be a big part of the team.

So decide what you really want to have happen and go for it.  The blame game will not get you an audience, but action on your part will.

Thoughts?  Cheers? Tomatoes? 

Cheers to happy and loyal audiences,

Shoshana

Shoshana Fanizza

Audience Development Specialists

http://www.buildmyaudience.com

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“Never treat your audience as customers, always as partners.”
~James Stewart

Please consider supporting ADS so we can continue our work.  Donate here! 

***Purchasing my book will help support ADS and our mission.***

My eBook

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“Free” for arts audience development

Leave it to Seth Godin to send a whammy to my inbox this morning.  It was a real doozy for me since it hit too close to home for comfort.  As you know, dear reader, I have been contemplating how to get myself to the next level for some time now. I know what I do helps the common good.  I am fairly loud in pushing the audience development goodness forward. I absolutely love and believe in what I am doing, yet it has been challenging, especially when people want my services for free.  I know I am not the only one that feels this way.

I see it all the time in the “gigs” section of the job listings.  “We need an artist, band, graphic designer, insert other artist title here, in exchange for some publicity and food (well, maybe food if you’re lucky).  I hear artists grumbling about not getting fair pay for all the hard work that they are doing.  I discussed this with a photographer friend who always used the phrase, “you have to pay to play” in order to get his photography business off the ground, and he is one of the most talented photographers I have come across for his particular niche. He certainly deserved to be paid for those photos at that level of quality. They got his talent for free.

Free can be good and lead you to a better place, but sometimes free ends up being a vicious cycle that is difficult to get out of.

Is free really “free?”  Or, are we going in a negative direction?   Godin asks us to weigh the benefits against the free.  If it is worth it and will advance your career, help build your audiences, then by all means, take the free opportunity.  If free is selling yourself short and not adding to a positive outcome, stop and step away from the free.

I have many free services that I do for the public.  I blog, distribute articles, leave tip of the day and mini-podcast audio clips, give free talks/seminars/webinars at times, etc.  I absolutely love what I am doing.  The free is adding up though, and every time someone asks me “can I pick your brain?” a little piece of my dream of making a living doing what I enjoy dies.

In the meantime, I have seen nonprofit arts organizations and agencies with more resources go under.  It didn’t make sense to keep going when they weren’t able to pay their employees or foot their bills.

There are more people clamoring for the spotlight, more people starting new businesses hoping to make the big time.  In the five years I have been trucking along, I have seen consultants come and go depending on whether they land a full time job instead.  Meanwhile, I’ve been in it for the longer haul.  I have continued to take the free opportunities to put myself out there.

However, if I don’t do somethings for free, I may not be working at all.  I can recall certain gurus of our time going beyond and saying not to be stingy with your gifts and giving freely of yourself will reap positive benefits for all.  When I come across this line of thinking, I end up asking myself – maybe I am not doing enough for free?

I would love your thoughts on this one. As you can see, there is a back and forth in my mind about all this free business.   There must be a way for talented artists like you and me to make money from our businesses instead of dealing with too many free-doms.  So I ask you –   When does free start costing more than it’s worth?  How far should a small business entrepreneur go down the free path before it just doesn’t make sense any more?

In the end, as artists with valuable talents and gifts, we do need to ask ourselves these questions.  Putting in sweat equity makes sense, yet bleeding yourself dry really doesn’t.

To end on a positive note, I want to thank all the people that have paid for my services, donated money, bought my book, or offered me some well needed friendly advice.  I am so grateful for the people that valued what I do and want to see me succeed as well!  Without you, I would not be hopeful enough to keep going.  Huge thanks to you!
Please let me know your thoughts.

Cheers to happy and loyal audiences,

Shoshana

Shoshana Fanizza

Audience Development Specialists

http://www.buildmyaudience.com

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“Never treat your audience as customers, always as partners.”
~James Stewart

Please consider supporting ADS so we can continue our work.  Donate here! 

***Purchasing my book will help support ADS and our mission.***

My eBook

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Non-profit/artist mentality and arts audience development

I was at the thrift store last week on one of my treasure hunts, and I came across a book by T. Harv Eker called Secrets of the Millionaire Mind.  Seeing that I was in a thrift store, it was a little ironic, but I picked it up acknowledging that perhaps I do not have a “millionaire mind.”  Maybe it would be good to see what a millionaire mind looked like.

The book left a big impression on me.  It wasn’t about get rich quick schemes, it was all about the mentality of a millionaire and why they become millionaires.  Here are a few points:

1. What you focus on is what you will become.  If you focus on being poor and the challenges of being poor, that is what you will get.  “Poor me” will only get you poor me.  If you focus on wealth and building wealth, this is what you will get.

2. Many of us have a jealous streak about millionaires and tend to view them as bad, greedy people.  Some of us were raised to be guilty if we accumulate money.  Only some millionaires are greedy and bad and then there are a group that are generous people and think of others often.

3.  If we want to become more wealthy, we need to consider the people that are surrounding us.  Are they negative or positive?  Do they have wealth and/or a wealthy attitude?

4. If we want to help more people, money will come in handy to help more people.

5. Starting small to change your blueprint of wealth and adding to it everyday will take you to a more positive place and closer to becoming a millionaire.

There were many, many other points he made.  It had me wondering about the artist/non-profit mentality -the starving artist syndrome, the don’t get ahead non-profit model.  Are these mentalities creating a natural downfall?  If an artist gets rich, is he still a “real artist?”  If a non-profit is “profitable” are they selling out?  I think it would be good if we could examine the collective mentality we have for the arts and our arts businesses.  We tend to come from a place of poorness in order to attempt to accumulate the support that the arts/artists need.

The culture is shifting slightly.  We are now starting to focus on what the arts does for the economy.  The arts can create prosperity for local economies.  The arts contribute to the welfare of our society.  Yes!  I like this.

Though, what I would love even more is a healthier collective mentality that the arts deserve funding because the arts make life better for everyone.  This healthier collective mentality would attract more funding simply because we no longer feel poor with all the poor challenges.  Instead we will feel rich with all the richness the arts possess.

We have forgotten to celebrate the richness – the richness of how the arts make us feel, how they can make us feel more alive, how the creativity the arts gives us makes our lives richer.  We have forgotten to invite people to be aware of and feel this richness firsthand.  Instead we beg for funding and attempt to prove we are worthy.   What about feeling worthy right from the start?  What about inviting others to feel the worth of the arts? Could this make a huge difference?

Perhaps this is a floofy floo of a thought, but would it hurt to try?  Would it hurt to start from a place of wealth that the arts already possess and celebrate the arts?  Can we envision a healthier arts world by seeing what it could be instead of what is not at the moment?  Can we see healthy funding and large audiences simply because the arts are rich and worth celebrating?  I’m willing to shift if you are (wink included).

Cheers to happy and loyal audiences,

Shoshana

Shoshana Fanizza

Audience Development Specialists

http://www.buildmyaudience.com

FacebookTwitterLinkedin

“Never treat your audience as customers, always as partners.”
~James Stewart

Although we are not a non-profit, if you would like to support ADS to continue our work, you can donate here.

***Purchasing my book will help support ADS and our mission.***

My eBook

New eBook! The How of Audience Development for the Arts: Learn the Basics, Create Your Plan

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Audience development and the passion behind the arts

This morning, I blog to you about something personal, as me, Shoshana, not as ADS.  While scanning articles this morning, I fell upon a delightfully charming concept in the The Atlantic:

How to Listen to Classical Music, and Enjoy It

This is the second post in a series by Benjamin F. Carlson. I can tell very much that this series is a labor of love for him, his attempt to share why classical music is worth listening to.

I saw the value of this type of format as an audience development tool, but you know what?  As I listened to the examples, something deeper happened.  I happen to be a musician myself.  With over 35 years of piano and  30 years of horn under my belt, I realized that sometimes it takes a little “music bath” to bring me back to the reality of why I chose to be a musician in the first place.

I spent some time freelancing in Chicago, going from gig to gig. I did get caught up at times with “how much are they paying and how long am I playing.”  I showed up to a gig, played, and went home.  I sometimes hear musicians gripe about the fact that we have a gig to go to.  We can get tired and crabby.  I wonder how this attitude can translate to the audience.

The point to all this is, sometimes as musicians (as artists), we forget the reason why we are playing in the first place.  Sometimes as artists (in general), we get caught up in the business aspects and forget the joy of our art.  I’m not saying that the business aspects are not important to consider, but do we want to treat our art as something as a means to an end or a means to a means?

When I read about artists that are connecting to audiences, I also see that most of these artists are displaying their passion for their art.  We are kidding ourselves to think that Beethoven played technically is the same as Beethoven played passionately.  We are kidding ourselves if we don’t realize that the audience can sense the difference too.

Maybe the core value to all of this is: it’s a little about what we present and how we present, but it is mainly about how we present our passion.  It is easy to get excited about art if the presentation is full of passion for the art. Maybe the decrease in patron support is a direct correlation to the decrease in passion?  Maybe we as artists need to become fully involved in our art again as the passionate artists our inner beings desire to be?

As I  took the time out to sit and listen to the examples of the post, while especially listening to the Beethoven Variations, I discovered tears were streaming down my face.  I had gotten in touch with the reason why I am a musician, why I chose to spend endless hours practicing, learning, and playing music.  I was, in a word, moved. Perhaps as artists, we need to take time on a regular basis to get in touch with the reason why we chose to become artists, and why we choose to share this passion with others.

If we don’t get in touch with this passion, and we blankly share art without it…well…what’s the point?  I highly encourage all artists to dive inward and find the reasons why they are artists.  Find what inspires you to feel that inner passion again.  The joy we feel will translate to our audience.  They will feel our joy – it’s contagious!  This is what art is about, the passion, the means to a means.

This weekend, I will be performing with the Colorado Wind Ensemble.  The music selections are old standards that are dusted off each summer.  Now that I have had my “music bath,” I will go into the performance with a more passionate attitude, be grateful that I am doing what I love to do, and play my bars and bars of after-beats with gusto!

Shoshana

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