Middleman be gone! Artistes, waketh ye up: Artist must be businessperson!

Middleman be gone!

I sit here staring at screen-number-two, its 1920 x 1080 pixels taunting me: “Waste time with Youtube! With Facebook! Read editorial comments by anonymous idiots!” I have deadlines. I must write. Yet thoughts about art and writing and making a living strike me. Do tell, Gary. Do tell.

These thoughts are around money and business and art and Adam Corolla.

Yes, Adam Corolla (@adamcorolla). The guy from the Man Show and Love Line and the radio and now the number-one podcast. Love him or hate him, he has recently made an important point. One that Seth Godin would be proud of. Adam has made the theoretical real.

Recently, he decided to forgo a lucrative guaranteed radio contract and instead continue to independently produce his podcast and try to make money out of it. Stupid or inspirational? To me, inspirational. I see many parallels between what he is doing from a business perspective as it relates to his art (use quotes around “art” if you must, I won’t) and what I have done and am now trying to do. Subtract a few zeros to the left of the decimal point and here are the things he is doing that I really respect and want to do:

– Take what you have always done, cut out the middleman, and make a living

OK, well, I was going to write a whole bunch of bullets, but that first one sums it up. (Yes, writer friends, then I shouldn’t have used a bullet.)

Thanks to @createspaceformsite, google, @squareup, others to be mentioned, and my years of skill and knowledge and personal connections, why do I need a middleman make my latest project a reality?

I don’t! And neither do a whole host of comedians, writers, painters, musicians, and academic writers. Include your favorite examples of success in the comments if you please.

Now, I do need help and have partners and have made decisions to share possible future profits appropriately. But that is under my control now. Not delegated to a guy or gal in New York or LA or London who has four other projects and will focus only on the one that they think is most lucrative.

Adam, thanks for helping me decide to give it the old college try – on pain of possibly going broke – to do what would have had to have been done under the rubric of “the man” years ago. And, if I fail, well, I am simultaneously looking for full-time work and consulting contracts (hint hint, my eLearning and collaboration technology friends) as I do this project on my off hours!

Artistes, waketh ye up!

One of my college mentors Marly Youmans has a fascinating poetry and writing blog called The Palace at 2:00am. On it, she has a series of posts called House of Words written by her and her rabid followers and friends from around the globe. I’ll summarize this series (but you should read it yourself):

  1. It is hard to sell poetry and getting harder to do it through traditional means
  2. Some artists don’t know how to, don’t want to, or can’t sell.
  3. Of the set in number 2 above, some don’t care – they produce art for arts sake and their spouse feeds them and pays the bills or some such arrangement.
  4. Of the remainder of the set in number 2, some amazing writers and poets are learning how to represent themselves myriad new ways on paper, online, and in person. And cutting out (or redefining) the middleman and scraping out a living where in theory, none should be available
  5. Support the arts, or don’t complain when they dwindle to nothinghood

And don’t forget she has overflowing buckets of her own and others’ poetry on her blog plus links to buy her stuff.

If you are an artist and don’t want to make even a part of your living off it, that is fine. Really. I have friends like that and they are phenomenal people. If you want to make even a part of your living off your art, you need to become somewhat of a businessperson or delegate that role to someone or some group. I don’t think it will make you less of an artist.

I argue that if you are good, or even middling, or just aspiring to get better you have a responsibility to distribute and create awareness and get feedback. And this feedback loop is at least partially defined by marketing and selling.

Best to all,

Gary “Hopefully not an audience of one for my upcoming projects” Dietz