We are no longer living in the information age, but the attention age. There is so much information and stimuli out there that it is difficult to rise above the noise and get your art – in whatever form you chose to display it – noticed. In order for you to get noticed, or get attention, you have to engage with your audience way earlier in the process than ever before. You have to develop them, engage them and bring them with you from project to project.
Social Media tools like Facebook, Twitter and Blogs can help you do this but in order for it to be successful you have to see audience engagement as an integral part of what you do, not something to be suffered in order to make a sale at some point down the line.
Those who are managing to incorporate building and engaging their audience into their artistic process are not selling out. They are choosing to invest themselves in the whole process of their art. From concept to sale. They are becoming an Artist Entrepreneur.
I heard this gem of a phrase a few weeks ago when at a seminar run by Jon Reiss, author of the book “Think Outside the Box Office”. Although primarily referring to what is happening within the film industry, Jon’s remarks have as much pertinence with the rest of the art world.
Right now in Film, the old methods of distribution are crumbling. Like the music industry before it, the model that existed for almost the entire 20th Century is becoming obsolete. Stars don’t guarantee box office. Studios aren’t the only ones funding films. The cinema isn’t the only place you can see a film. The internet means that artists can go directly to fan – for funding, for distribution, for sales - without passing through a studio or a cinema.
However, they can only do it if they are willing to put the graft in and build their audience first.
For me, the reason the phrase “The Artist Entrepreneur” works, is that it keeps the success of the project entirely with the artist. That is a very powerful concept. If your success is entirely within your own hands, it comes down to how pro-active you are willing to be to make it work. By acknowledging that if you want to continue making great art, then finding a sustainable, engaging and ultimately profitable way to do it is entirely sensible.