Embrace Your Unique Voice as an Artist

This is primarily directed to artists, but really, it applies to all of us.  Being a unique voice in a world that values sameness can be a rough row to hoe.  As children, we’re taught, encouraged, sometimes even bludgeoned and beaten into sameness.  Don’t be too loud.  Don’t show how smart you are.  Don’t blow your own horn.  Don’t stick out (either for good or ill).

These are the messages that we get from our parents, our siblings, our teachers and our peers.  And from a herd mentality, it makes a lot of sense, on an evolutionary scale.  The straggler gets eaten, right?  And if you don’t blend into your environment, you’re not only a danger to yourself, but you can attract danger to your tribe, right?  But we don’t live in those times anymore, and yet, we still live by those rules as a society.  Or at least some of us do.

To be nobody but yourself in a world which is doing its best, night and day, to make you everybody else means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight; and never stop fighting.
e.e. cummings, 1955

The most successful people, not just in the arts, but in all areas of life, are the ones who willingly stand out.  The ones who risk being chastised or not loved. The ones who are willing to fall face down into the mud in abject failure in order to be true to themselves.  They STAND OUT.

Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.
Dr. Seuss

As an artist in a highly competitive environment, expressing your unique voice is critical to your success both artistically and entrepreneurially.

But what does that mean, really?  In my opinion, it doesn’t mean figuring out what will sell, what record companies want, who you need to twist yourself into to “make it.”

What it really means is to unveil your true voice, that voice which is innately, uniquely, brilliantly yours.   Choose what it is you want to express and filter that content through your unique instrument, your mind, your heart, your spirit.

It’s been said that there are no new ideas.  And on one level that may be true.  What makes your expression of an idea unique is that your idea is filtered through that which is uniquely you.  And there’s no one else quite like you in the world.

At bottom every man knows well enough that he is a unique being, only once on this earth; and by no extraordinary chance will such a marvelously picturesque piece of diversity in unity as he is, ever be put together a second time.
Friedrich Nietzsche

The fact that we are all part of the human experience makes us able to find common ground and connect with each other. What we do with our human experience, how we experience it, is unique to ourselves and allows us to be unique in how we express creatively. The leap of faith is to trust that the right people, the right audience, the right opportunities will show up and really see you and appreciate and connect with your unique creative expression.

So, how do you embrace your unique voice and use it as an Artist Entrepreneur?

  1. Learn, practice and master the skills necessary to express your unique self
  2. Polish your courage, your temerity and take the leap into full expression
  3. Use all of the skills and tools available to you to package your expression in a way that your target audience really wants it
  4. Repeat steps 1-3 over and over with consistency, constantly learning, growing and expanding your skills and getting the help and support you need to fully embody each step to the best of your unique combination of talent, ability and skill.

How are you embracing and expressing your unique voice and what are your biggest challenges with it?

Don’t be a Needy Artist

Fair warning – this is a rant.

Over the past few years, since I started doing the Ask Coach Debra Calls and being more active on Twitter and Facebook, I’ve had many encounters that go something like this:

Needy Artist – How do I get an Agent/Manager/ Gallery Rep (for visual artists), etc.?

Me – Why do you want one?

Needy Artist – Well, I need someone to help me with my career!

Me – Can you make a living from 10-20% of what you are currently earning?

Needy Artist – What? NO! Why?

Me – Well, why would an Agent/Manager/Rep take you on?  If they can’t make a living representing you?

Needy Artist – But I expect them to build my career for me, so they can then make a living!

In other words – this person wants someone else to save them.  They want the easy way out, the short-cut.  They want someone else to build their career for them.  This makes me crazy!!!!

Why would anyone do that?  Why would anyone take on an artist who is too lazy, too self-involved, to entitled to take responsibility for their own career?  Short answer?  They wouldn’t.  But these folks want me to go to my contacts and hook them up.  Why would I do that?

Does this sound familiar?  Have you wanted someone, some white knight on a great steed, to come into your life and take over the hard, hard work of building your career, so you don’t have to?  Sounds nice, doesn’t it?

But be careful what you wish for – I can’t tell you how many stories I’ve heard of artists losing their life’s savings because they abdicated responsibility for the career, their money, their success to someone else.  Someone who promised to do all the hard, boring, confronting, uncomfortable work of managing their career.  And they did that, only to abscond with the money they created for the artist, when that artist had relaxed into the relationship and stopped paying attention.

Of course that doesn’t happen to everyone and it’s not to say that every manager or rep is unsavory or dishonest.  But when faced with both temptation and a lack of oversight even the most honorable may give in.

So if this blog post hits home and you see yourself in that “Needy Artist”, what should you do?  You need to learn how to create your own career and take 100% responsibility for your results.  Because even when you get to the point that it is time to work with an agent or manager, you need to know enough about what they do, so you can hold them accountable and give them guidance about what kind of career you want.

One of my favorite blog posts recently is this one from Dean Ogden on ScoreCastOnline – where he talks about how to know if you are ready for success in the music industry.  I’d use it as an assessment tool.  Some of the items are business and craft skills and some are internal skills and emotional intelligence.

And come to me to learn those skills and implement them to create a successful business.  But don’t expect me to do it for you.  That’s not my job.  It’s not the Agent or Manager’s job either.

How to Embrace Your Unique Voice as an Artist

Artists MBA, Professional ProgramAs children we are taught, by our parents, our teachers, our siblings and our peers, that in order to be loved, we must blend in. We must conform our uniqueness to be “appropriate”. And its an important skill to have – to know society’s rules and be able to act accordingly with volition.

But as artists, as business owners, as entrepreneurs, expressing your unique voice is critical to your success in business and in life.

 

“Self-censorship is not just self-betrayal and self-abandonment (which would be bad enough), but soul-betrayal and betrayal of our Muse, our inner voice, our highest self.”
Ralf Waldo Emerson

In this class we’ll explore:

  • How to listen to yourself in an empowering way – so you learn to know your true voice
  • How (and when) to express your true voice
  • How these skills serve in your creativity, your marketing and your business and personal relationships

Standing up and standing out takes true courage in a society that encourages conformity. And if you study the truly successful in our world, as I have, you will see that they all had a heaping measure of that courage – the ability and the willingness to take a stand for what they believed and to embrace and celebrate their unique voice.

Additional Resources for this Class:

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Facebook Promotion Etiquette

In the last week, 2 people have gone onto my Facebook Pages – Debra Russell and Artists Marketing & Business Academy – and posted that I should check out their Facebook Page or ReverbNation Page.  And my first reaction was – wow, that’s rude.  But then I thought to myself – what if it’s not?  What if, in the world of Social Media, that would be OK?  So, I went on my profile and asked the question, and the unanimous response was – yes, that’s just rude.

Think about it this way – if you were a store owner looking for a way to promote your store, would you go into someone else’s store (even if they weren’t in direct competition with you) and hand out flyers inviting people to your store?  Without at the very least asking permission?  I mean, wouldn’t that just be rude?

So, why do people think it’s OK to do that on my Facebook Page – which is the online equivalent of a storefront?

There are two marketing principles that apply:

  1. If you wouldn’t do it in the real world, don’t do it online.
  2. People buy from the people they know, like and trust.

So use social media to initiate, create and deepen your relationships with your prospects, customers, clients and colleagues.  It’s called relationship marketing.  Sure,  get to know me, even invite me to like your page.  I’m easy to contact on Facebook – I allow n0n-friends to message me.  But don’t do it by advertising on my page.  That’s just rude.

 

Money Management: Building Your Financial Foundation

Artists MBA, Foundation ProgramMany of us think our trouble with money is that we just don’t have enough.

If we had more money, our problems would disappear. But the vast majority of lottery winners are broke within 3 years.

The problem isn’t the money – it’s how we think about, manage, and use this essential resource.

“Money is only a tool. It will take you wherever you wish, but it will not replace you as the driver.” – Ayn Rand

In this class, you’ll learn how to:

  • Shift your internal beliefs to become a money magnet
  • Apply the S.P.E.C.I.A.L. action plan to your unique goals to achieve financial freedom and success
  • Build systems to streamline your money management
  • Design a game plan that produces and sustains financial freedom

Additional Resources for this Class:

Prerequisite Class:

Listen to the Class:

Thank you for your interest. This content is visible to ArtistsMBA Foundation, Professional, Mastery Program members only. Click here to access.

Enroll in the Artists Marketing & Business Academy Foundation Program
to access the following classes today ($5 for first 10 days/$27 per month Tuition):

Read the Class Transcript

(Transcript coming soon)
Thank you for your interest. This content is visible to ArtistsMBA Mastery Program members only. Click here to access.

Enroll in the Artists Marketing & Business Academy Mastery Lab to access the transcript of this class today


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Next Class: