5 Ways to Navigate the New Era of “Essential” Artistry
By Chrissy Ras
Six months ago, it would have been impossible to imagine our current global situation. For many artists and creatives, it’s a scary and unsettling moment in time, and forces us to re-evaluate our commitment to our craft, which has been deemed “non-essential”. This short article will share 5 ways to navigate the new artist economy.
Plan your strategy.
Whatever it is. Your new essential may or may not include your past activities. Before you spin your wheels trying to find the same opportunities that were abundant before the public health crisis, sit down and brain storm new ideas and possibilities for you and your brand. It’s time for introspection. Dig deep. You still have many choices at your disposal. Have you always wanted to write music, but haven’t found the time? Need to perform? Create online performance opportunities on any number of free and paid platforms. Perhaps now is the time to set up a lesson program. In-person lessons will return, soon, and in the mean time, an online platform will allow you to reach across the globe for potential students. Perhaps you’d like to try your hand at producing. Research online instruction from any number of schools. You must decide what your priorities are. This step is non-negotiable. Write down your intentions specifically. What do you want to do? Don’t do any editing in this first step. This is not the time to be the devil’s advocate or focus on reasons why your ideas won’t work.
Select distribution channels to deliver your products and services to your fan base and create multiple revenue streams within them.
Diversify. More is better. Social media accounts are great marketing tools. Create a shop on your social media sites where your fan base is strong and sell directly. Now is the time to consider new social media platforms. TikTok and Twitch are the latest trending social media platforms and they are worth your time as an emerging artist. Do you have your own website? Get one. A website isn’t free, but it gives you full autonomy. You own all the data, you can control your content. Pay walls, and subscription-based content are ways to generate recurring revenue via your website. Looking for performance opportunities? Create them. Build your own online music festival utilizing one of the many platforms available (StageIt, FB Live, Instagram Live, Zoom, YouTube Live are examples.) Offer merchandise showcasing your brand. Think outside the box. Merch includes more than t-shirts and stickers. Consider offering personalized messages, songs, video chats to super fans. Create a series of lessons and offer as a bundle. Include lesson books in your package of services. Research the most efficient way to deliver your merchandise, so you don’t get stuck with shipping fees you didn’t consider.
Embrace change/Research new technology.
We must evolve, like any other business that we have pressured to do the same. (Brick and mortar stores vs. online). Stop looking backwards and grieving what’s been lost. Focus on what you can provide that is relevant to your new audience. Help educate your audience so it’s easier for them to support you. This can create a special bond between you and your fan base. Create how-to videos, start a podcast, try your hand at video editing software. Have you built your home recording studio yet? If you’re uncomfortable with new technology, take a low-cost class or seminar at a community college and start building your skills.
Take advantage of free/discounted resources.
Social media accounts (TikTok, Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Reverbnation, BandsinTown, Twitch, Snapchat, GigSalad). Apple users have access to Garage Band and iMovie, two powerful software platforms for DIY. Don’t forget about professional industry resources that provide information and seminars like ASCAP, BMI, WiMN, NAMM, SCORE. Focus on technology. This pandemic will change our lifestyles and ways of doing business forever. Some tried and true methods are still viable and necessary. Email lists are still the most effective way to reach out to your following. Is yours updated?
Connect with people and your community.
Research and benchmark other musicians, creatives and business owners. Look at businesses inside of your industry, and outside your industry. Join social groups of like-minded artists and industry veterans and ask questions. Create relationships with your competitors and make alliances. We are more powerful together than as individuals. Chances are, you will get your next gig from a musician. Seriously consider bartering as a powerful tool in the new era and try exchanging services. What can you do? What do you need? Partner with other professionals. Maybe you can collaborate with another artist that has been too busy to work with you. Create a network of artists to share leads with and collaborate with. The relationships you curate will outlast this short term crisis. Now is the time to repair relationships that are valuable to you.
In summary, luck is anything but random. It happens when preparation meets opportunity. Thoughtful intention, open mindedness, and a commitment to life long learning are qualities that will serve you well in this new era of “essential” artistry.
About the Author
Chrissy Ras is a lifetime musician, classically trained on the piano since she was 6. She entered USC with a talent scholarship and began a career as a professional dancer for many years before discovering her love for music and teaching.
She’s a true entertainer and business manager. She has years of entertainment experience working for companies such as Disneyland, the Anaheim Angels, and McDonald’s. Besides earning a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Management, Chrissy has co-hosted on NPR’s Construction Zone Radio and other internet radio stations. She does voice-over, MC’s and hosts large and small events including weddings and sports competitions. She currently owns and operates CR Music School and CR Talent Agency and can be contacted directly for writing/speaking engagements. firstname.lastname@example.org