“Your Turn Challenge” – Choose Yourself

Today, as an artist, you can choose yourself. The gatekeepers are gone. No more cigar smoking, suspender strap wearing managers standing in the doorway, slamming the door and screaming, “Beat it, kid – you’re never gonna make it in this town!”

If you’re a musician, you don’t have to get picked to get recording time. Record your songs with basic, inexpensive equipment and post them online – on Spotify, on YouTube, on iTunes, etc.  If they are good, people will listen.  You can raise money to rent studio space through KickStarter or a similar platform if you choose to go that route.  Again, if it’s good, people will listen, spread / share, and off you go.

I recently donated to singer / songwriter Megan Graves’ KickStarter campaign.  Why?  Because her songs were good, she’s a nice girl, and she’s taking a big swing. She’s moving to LA from the East Coast and trying to fund her dream. I identify with her because I moved out to Vegas not that long ago with a dream of getting my own show. She has reached out to me several times for guidance and taken my advice when I offered it, so I feel on some small level invested in her success. Donated. This story is not atypical.

If you’re a comedian, do comedy. Tape your sets, study them, tweak them – post them, create a website and brand, publish content regularly, etc. If you’re a writer, blog. Hone your voice.  Build your audience. There is an inexpensive, accessible platform for whatever medium you work in.

You are now able to build your audience, develop your brand, and create fantastic promotional materials to market yourself… that’s the good news. The bad news is that you are now expected to build your audience, develop your brand, and create fantastic promotional materials to market yourself.

No one is going to do this for you, because everything is now accessible to everyone. The playing field has been leveled, and it’s never going back to the way it used to be.

Don’t know how to video edit?  No worries, iMovie is on your computer.  Google it.  Watch some YouTube clips.  Figure it out.  Wanna be a professional photographer?  Great.  Start now with your iPhone and an Instagram account.  Not “into” Twitter?  You will be.  Figure it out. The list goes on.

I have seen this in my own career.  Years ago I designed my own website (thank you, iWeb… rest in peace), shot and edited my own promotional videos, wrote up my own contracts and riders, negotiated my own gigs, booked my own travel, marketed and promoted my shows – the list goes on and on!  Before I could afford to have my own audio / visual guy travel with me to run my sound, I ran my own cues with a remote control iPod velcroed to my belt!  I did it because there was no other option.

10 years into doing this full time, I am just now starting to get to a place where I can shift a large part of my time back to my creative development. I have a full-time Director of Operations I pay salary who is in charge of all marketing and promoting for my Las Vegas show.  That helps tremendously.  I have a booking agent who handles all of the details of contracts, negotiations, and event logistics.  I have a webmaster who does all web design and updates, a graphic designer who does all our Vegas ad layouts and promo materials.  In short, I have built a team which allows me to get back to the core my brand which is me and my show – performing!But let me be clear- this shift back toward my creative development has been years and years in the making, and is still very much a work in progress.  It’s something I am still striving for every day.

The bottom line is that when you’re starting out as an artist, you have to do everything until you make it to a certain level where you can go back to just doing the one thing that you really love to do… the one thing that you’re really good at it… the reason why you’re doing all of this in the first place.  It really doesn’t make sense, but that’s the way it is.

If the hunger is there, you’ll fight through it all and get back to focusing on how you really want to spend your time.  And you’ll be stronger, smarter, and more informed than you were when you started.

This post is part of the “Your Turn Challenge,” a 7-day blogging challenge created by Winnie Kao, special projects lead for marketing / business guru Seth Godin. Learn more about the “Your Turn Challenge.”