What It Takes Pt. 4: To Catch A Fish
Sometimes, we like to convince ourselves that if our work is good enough, the opportunities and people we want to work with will just come to us.
We get frustrated and cynical, imagining the people who have the opportunities we want have some hidden advantage, or that they’re willing to compromise themselves in a way we’re not.
We get angry that industry types are focused on all the wrong things, and that the systems are broken. All of which may be true.
The creative industries are pretty brutal and broken, and we need to change them, by empowering artists and creatives to lead them. But that’s a post for another day.
The problem lies when we take all of this personally.
If you’re not getting the opportunities you want, it may have little to do with your talent and hard work, and everything to do with your fishing skills.
Want a manager or agent? They need to see financial potential.
They can’t afford to earn 20% of zero forever. That means they need to see you are prolific, you have an audience or that people respond to you with excitement, perhaps some media interest, opportunities beginning to flow in your direction (though it’s better for them if you haven’t yet signed deals), you’re willing to improve upon and make the most of your talents and gifts, and most of all that you’re going to keep up the good work.
Want to get gigs? A promoter needs an audience to show up.
It’s really hard to book an artist or a speaker who is totally unknown, it’s tough even when the person they book does have an audience. They need your help with promotion, including promotional tools, preferably some kind of video, and it helps if the gig is after a recent campaign where you’ve had some press and radio.
Want a PR person to work with you? They need you to create a campaign.
That means great press shots and exciting content, a story to tell, a reason for journalists to write about you instead of everyone else, more well known names supporting the project in some capacity etc etc.
It’s possible you don’t want to think about that side of the work. You want to make what you make and see what happens, which is fair enough. If that’s the case, I strongly suggest you make peace with the fact that your odds of catching the fish you want are probably going to be a bit longer.
If you are willing to adjust your fishing technique, here is a suggestion of how you can do so.
Write down one specific kind of opportunity you’d like to be offered or specialist you would like to work with in the next 6-12 months.
Research and make a list of 5-10 of them.
For example, if it’s a gig or speaking event, write down 5-10 you would like to be booked for and who the bookers/ promoters are. If it’s a manager, label A&R or agent make a list of 10 of them.
Follow them all online, preferably on Twitter so you can add them to a secret list.
Try to get a sense of who else they work with, at what stage they started working together, and how those people present themselves.
How did the people they are working with get to this stage? Who else are they working with? How prolific are they? Do they have their own blogs or podcasts? Do they run their own events? Do they have amazing press shots? Do they do lots of collaborations? Do they release of videos of themselves performing or speaking live up online? Do they have many online followers?
Write a list of 3-5 steps you can take which you think will bring you closer to the opportunities you’ve listed, and put them at the top of your priorities list.