“I be the manager, road manager and call handler/booking agent, choreographer and tour planner/I be the VP of marketing and promotions/producer and arranger with a range of emotions/and after it all, I still gotta perform/at 3 o clock in the morn’ when half the fans are gone/but it’s fine”
Masta Ace said it best. When you are making and promoting your own are, you must fill every role that is needed. This DIY mentality is part of why we are drawn to independent art. It is also the reason why a lot of Indie artists do not find success.
Today I wanted to discuss the different aspects of being an independent creator, artist, or whatever you want to call it. There are a lot of roles we need to play, and not showing one role enough attention can be devastating to our progression.
Being Mindful of Intentions
I have spent a lot of time getting to know independent creators from all walks of life. This has been an incredibly fulfilling process. I have met and discussed art with so many talented and passionate people. I have mad a lot of friends that I talk to regularly.
There is, however, one major trend that I have noticed when it comes to my peers. Many of them want to make their art, and that is it. Normally this would be completely fine. There are many artists that want to create and leave it at that.
Many people, including myself, make art purely for the sake of making it. I have hundreds of songs, beats, and recordings that I have made. I love them so much, and you will probably never hear them. There is nothing wrong with that. If this is how you feel about your work then this article is probably not for you.
However, a lot of creators and artists don’t want to just make art for themselves. They want more. They want to share their work with the world. There are dreams of ditching the desk job for a career in what fuels our passion for life.
This is completely okay as well. However, many creators are also struggling to bridge the gap between hobby and career. They put their heart and soul into their work but do not see great results.
When I look a bit deeper into their work, I see excellent art…and that is about it. Their website does not work properly. They are not promoting themselves in an effective way. They are constantly broke or underfunded.
Art Isn’t Our Only Responsibility
No one is perfect. I make these missteps too. Honestly, this should have been my first article as in encompasses my entire creative philosophy. It took me a long time to formulate the advice I give.
That is why I want you to keep in mind that I am not just writing this for you. I am writing it as a guide for myself as well.
Now here comes the hard part that I wish wasn’t true:
Making art just simply isn’t enough.
Why wait for a big company to notice you when you can develop a well-rounded approach to your creativity projects?
There are many hats that need to be worn in order to make a name for ourselves in the realm of art and media. Sure, there are overnight successes, but these are essentially the artistic equivalent of playing the lottery.
So What Are You, Exactly?
You Are A Creator or Artist
Let me start by clarifying a point I made earlier. While art itself isn’t enough to create success, it is still the most important role. Your creative output is the foundation on which everything else rests. It is your expression and your offering. It is the main source of fulfillment in this entire process.
Mastering a craft can take an entire lifetime. This does not even take the other roles into account. It is very important that we are taking the necessary steps to progress our creativity. Otherwise we are just a clerk working in an empty store.
You Are A Public Relations Representative
When it comes to being an independent artist or creator, it is crucial that you are doing everything you can to promote yourself. You are your own best advocate. Without a company funding your endeavors, you have to make your own path to success.
It is difficult to get people to find your work. The internet is saturated with many other artists. While it is amazing that we have an endless amount of entertainment to consume, it is also much harder to get noticed. You need to show others that you care about your own work as much as they should.
This also means that you are filling the role of the booker. Not only are you advocating for your work, your are also setting up the scheduling for your promotions. This includes going to conventions, events, and podcast appearances.
You Are A Marketing Team
As stated previously, it is difficult to get the word out about your craft. The “if you make it they will come” policy is no longer in effect. Very few people have found success in solely making art. Most of us need a routine for getting people interested.
This means you need to market your own work. You are responsible for social media posting and audience communication. Consistent branding and outreach is a must. Let the world know that you are doing something, and doing it well!
You Are A Financial Advisor
Many of us independent creators still work a 9 to 5. Our income is invested into aspects of our lives outside of art. We have children to raise and family members in need. Food and shelter can be hard enough to acquire without spending a dime on our passions.
We also can’t afford to hire an accountant to run our finance for us. This can become complicated quickly when we begin to sell what we create. That are many aspects of finance, including taxes and insurance, that are taken care of by employers. Being our own boss means that those responsibilities fall onto us.
You Are A Manager
You may be in a position where you are collaborating and working with other people. This includes people working under you, partners, and anyone else who wants to help. Regardless of the structure, multiple people means there is a dynamic relationship to be taken into account. Resources and responsibilities need to split up and supervised.
More importantly, you are the manager of yourself. You don’t have a boss telling you to get work done. It is your job to dedicate energy to your own time and resource management. This can be as simple as making a to-do list, or as complex as overseeing multiple projects.
You Are A Travel Planner
Those flights and road trips don’t book themselves! Trips to shows, conventions, and events can take a lot out of us. This is especially true if we are not making money from our art.
Travel takes time, money and energy. Usually these resources are better spent elsewhere. Life doesn’t stop because we are out of town. We have to take time off of work, make family arrangements, and more. It is important that we are making an effort to travel efficiently and within our means.
You Are A Customer Service Representative
I wish I had people to deal with complaints about my website. Just kidding, you all are great. Effective Nerd has had very little negativity in the time it has been active.
However, selling a product or service doesn’t always work out well. Mistakes and mishaps happen. As an independent creator, your are responsible for what happens next. There are no customer service reps to hide behind.
You Are A Person
At the end of the day, you are who you are. We all work, play, love and grow at our own rates. We have lives, jobs, and families. The world doesn’t stop because we want to be a successful creator.
There are an infinite amount of variables that are helping or hurting your cause. These factors have the ability to change at the drop of a hat. They will also change as you grow and develop.
We are all on our own journey to make an impact with our creative expression. While it can be both frustrating and encouraging, it is this unique set of experiences that fuel our creations.
Most importantly, we are all on this adventure together.
Let’s Do This!
There are so many different strategies for success. Some people focus on objectives and standards. Others take more of a personable free-form outlook. However you choose to get the ball rolling, go for it!
As long as you continue to work hard and progress you will be just fine. I didn’t write this article to shame or scare anyone. However, if this article made you stressed out it may be an indicator that you aren’t doing enough. For me personally, stress and anxiety is typically a sign that I need to work harder.
I want you to be the successful person that you see in your head. You know that person that daydreams and fantasizes when no one else is around? Let’s go find them. I like them.
It won’t be easy. As we learned today, the world expects us to fill a lot different roles. It is time that we step up our efforts and fill in the gaps. Indie means wearing all of the hats, and I plan on trying on every one.
What Do You Think?
Playing many roles in life can be exhausting. It can also be extremely rewarding. How do you feel about wearing all of the hats? Were there any roles that I missed? What does indie mean to you? Let me know on social media!