I’ve been toying with an idea for the last few months that I may finally put into practice. But before I get into that, let’s discuss the typical artistic dream:
This applies whether you are a painter, a musician, a filmmaker, or a writer – at your core you value art over superficial gimmicks. The idea of self promotion, marketing, sales, and even merchandising likely makes you feel ill. You entered into your craft because you wanted to express an emotion that would leave a lasting impact on others. You sought to share your life experience through a specified medium with such precision that your message would inspire the souls of others like you.
The problem with this dream is not the dream itself – for it is a beautiful ideal. The issue has to do with the reality of the world we live in.
Any person who has sought to make this dream a reality will likely come across a similar issue: Despite painting a masterpiece, composing a captivating melody, or writing a whirlwind romance, your accomplishment goes unrecognized. The place where I have always been stopped is likely where others have been held up as well – short of the entrance door.
The most difficult aspect of attaining success in these pipe-dream careers is the barrier to entry. Unfortunately (and I say that with sincerity) we all know stories about artists who were discovered due to their overwhelming talent. The reason I say “unfortunately” is because the rapidly changing world we live in is reshaping the gate that prevents us from being recognized. That gate is technology.
If I can produce a quality film for less than $1000 so can anybody else. I can improve the quality a hundred fold each time, but during the time period it requires me to make such a film there are being millions upon millions of films being produced and streamed each day. What I am emphasizing here is the over-saturation of artistic markets.
You may be the greatest painter who ever lived, but if you only have 10 paintings available for sale you are going to have a rough time capturing enough interested clients to for a worthy price point to be fully realized. Now imagine JK Rowling made a painting and tried to sell it. Do you think she would have any trouble finding a buyer, despite its quality? I don’t think so.
So what am I getting at with all this? That the modern artist must choose quantity over quality? God no. My belief is that in order to reach a broader audience you must make yourself an accessible figure. The only way to avoid this would be to “get discovered” by a company or individual more powerful than yourself. Though that is the typical climax of any pipe-dream, I am absolutely sickened by the thought of relying on an outside power to help me make my dream a reality. There are many reasons for this, but the main one is that I would be opening myself up to getting played. If I am holding out for another entity to find success for me, they are going to use that to their advantage in negotiations – after-all, that’s how they’ve become a successful, established entity.
I have long avoided posting any videos on my youtube channel that are not new episodes for my film. In similar fashion, many writers on here only market works of fiction for sale that are full length novels. These things take months or even years to develop. During that time period, the audience for such content is still active in the community – but they’re giving their views, plays, and clicks to other artists.
That is the price of free rentals and free views. Your income from each “customer” is closer to 0 than it is to a single penny. Meanwhile, the top content producers rake in a ton of attention by consistently pushing out content and developing a communal following.
I am not sure what direction I am going to head in, but I do know the typical path of marketing is a foolish one. I can post teaser trailers each week and hype up my next episode all I want. Neither of those options will be even half as effective as producing weekly videos that build a community of viewers who want to hear my perspective on things and learn from me specifically. I am 100% convinced that building the viewership in my channel will result in more views for my upcoming episode than merely waiting until it is completed and hoping it catches fire.
I have an endless list of reasons for why I have not done this already. One of the main reasons is that I fear my channel will become a disorganized nightmare for predictable content. It may include funny videos, behind the scene footage, how-to instructions, and personal blogs. Kind of like my blog here (lol).
Even though the artist in me hates it, I feel like building a brand of personality will enable you to reach a wider viewership. When you have a wider viewership your media sales will inevitably increase. When your sales increase, you will begin to attract the big fish who will see you as a proven investment (After all, that is what modern media behemoths are looking for – not quality, but a predictable ROI).
I’m not really that happy to make this decision because it is not true to how I perceive art should be realized. I am a staunch believer in art surviving on its own merits, not by the personality of its producer. But as I’ve experienced in my own pursuits, you get stopped at the door because the doorman doesn’t even know who the “f” you are, not because the goods you are carrying aren’t worth something special. The modern day issue plaguing the artist is that nobody is going to ask what you’re carrying when everyone around you also has something locked under their arm.