Welcome back to Total Danarchy. If this is your first time here, this podcast is basically a way for me to deliver any information that might be helpful as it pertains to life in general. It's like an advice column on steroids. Or meth. Something like that. But I do it to help you. My beautiful listeners. Today I want to talk about something that I think is really important. Because I'm an artist and I'm always creating something, I experience this thing we're going to talk about a lot. What I'm talking about is when people love your stuff and they want you to keep producing it, you know, for their entertainment or whatever, but yet they can't be troubled to throw some money your way. They never want to pay you. And that's frustrating. If you're an artist, you know what I'm talking about. If you're not an artist, you need to listen to what I'm about to say. Because a lot of people don't view art the same as, say, carpentry. There's this perception that because we artists love what we do that we shouldn't charge money for it. Lots of artists are getting taken advantage of because they might be just starting out, trying to build a portfolio or clientele, so they're more vulnerable to that sort of thing. It happens with every type of art. It happens with writing, with music, with graphic design. You name it. And this doesn't just happen to artists, I know mechanics who have this problem - people want them to help them with their cars for free, etc. But this post is primarily about artists.
People keep expecting artists to do their magic for free. They'll say they're helping you. "We want to give you the exposure. We are helping you build your portfolio." No you're not. You're taking advantage of people. You don't walk in to a restaurant and ask for a free omelette on the condition that you go and spread the word. The world doesn't work like that. So quit asking artists to work for free. And artists - quit working for free. When you do so, you help perpetuate the entire fuckery. The more artists cave to these things, the more it happens. We need to set boundaries and enforce them. I realize that sometimes it's hard. Hey, I've been there. But this needs to be a collective thing. We have to change the entire culture. Respect yourself enough to say no. (One of the teachers I work with used to be a therapist at a mental institution, among other psychology related things. I asked him what the most assertive thing you could ever say was once, and his answer was, "No." Learn to say no.)
Check out this video I'm including that the listeners don't get to enjoy.
What you allow will continue. - Athenatos
In the last episode I talked about appreciation and how nobody ever tells people they like their stuff, people rarely leave reviews or rate things they like. They mostly only do that for things they hate. Leaving a review is too much work I guess. And those things don't even cost money! So here we are. I'm expanding on that. Today we're going to talk about succeeding monetarily as an artist in a world where most people don't give a shit. They'll consume your art, no doubt. But they don't want to pay for it, no sir.
Trying to make any kind of creative endeavor work is tough, man. And that doesn't matter what it is. Whether you're doing books, poetry, films, comic books, comedy, music, handmade jewelry, clothing, games, paintings, sculptures. Whatever it is, you will struggle. The ones who succeed find a way to keep doing it in spite of all the things that go wrong, in spite of how long it takes, in spite of telling themselves that maybe this isn't what they're supposed to be doing. Because it's a long, hard road. A road filled with potholes of doubt.
Imagine for a second trying to walk to New York City. Someplace. Wherever. So you're walking and walking. For miles. But you never see any signs. NYC: 25 miles. NYC: 10 miles. NYC: thataway. Nothing. And you ask everybody you come across for directions but nobody gives you any feedback. That's what it's like sometimes trying to make it with something. That's what it's like when everyone wants to consume your stuff but they can't be troubled to leave a review or a rating. 30 seconds is all that takes. But no. They're too busy. They can't be bothered to give up 99 cents for your song. They don't like Paypal. Patreon and Kickstarter are confusing. So yeah. It's a long rode. A hard one.
If it was easy, everyone would do it. That's what they say about anything.
And it doesn't matter WHY you're doing something, as long as it's not about the money. I know I've heard that before and it's always sounded like bullshit, but in this case it's true. While you do have to pay the bills (and therefore money has to factor into the equation), what I'm saying is don't make it only about the money. Because if it's money you want, there are way easier ways to get it. No truer statement has ever been uttered in the history of mankind. If your only drive is money, forget about it. You have to love what you do or you will never come out the other side. You won't make it. That's the most important element right there. Never lose sight of why you got into it in the first place, because let me tell you, sometimes you may be your only fan. Sometimes you may be your only critic.
The truth of it is, you only actually need one fan. You. That's it. Does it suck in those times? You damn right it does. But you have to believe and you've got to do that until you get others to believe. And then those are the people who will carry you in times when you stop believing. See how that works? You have to be your own fan first, though.
You have to be able to press on when things look grim. You're gonna find that some people are completely okay with stealing your music or downloading your book when it's FREE on Amazon Prime. They'll look at all the pics on your site. They might even read some of your blog posts. Oh, you bet they'll watch your video on Youtube. They'll say, "Oh my god, that's amazing. I would totally buy that if you made it." But the minute you ask these people to contribute, even just a dollar, they vanish. The minute you put that t-shirt up for sale and say, "Here it is, everyone who said they wanted one!" - that's the minute they go into hiding. These people are nowhere to be found. What happened to all these loyal supporters?
Don't even sweat it, because trying to figure that shit out is enough to make your brain wring itself out. Just press on. Keep doing your thing. You have to do it for you most of all. And that sucks. Nobody expects the chef to give out food to everybody for free. Nobody expects the plumber to come and fix your pipes for free. Nobody goes to the grocery store and expects the owner to give them milk and eggs for free. So why do we do it to artists? They gotta eat, too. Do you think they enjoy working whatever job they're doing to pay the bills so they can do what they really love in their free time? Hell no. They don't want to do that. But they have to. You know why? Because people can't be bothered to pay them for their art. Or people want it for so cheap it's insulting. They'll want to pay $200 to get out of paying a grand.
As an artist you're going to run into people who think what you do is a waste of time, that you should do something else. They'll tell you to do something more realistic. But those same people will sit there and enjoy movies, video games, music on their iPod. They read the books people wasted their time writing. They get tattoos from artists. But of course those things aren't unrealistic or a waste of the creator's time. They wear crap that they think looks cool. Of course those clothes and the jewelry and the sunglasses, all those things that were designed by some artist, those of course weren't a waste of time or unrealistic. No sir.
Forget those people. You don't need to be listening to hypocrites. Because let me tell you something.
Every single piece of art, music, literature, whatever people consume -- ALL of it was created by someone who was told it was a waste of time, somewhere along the line. Every damn one of them. Can you imagine if every one of those people were to take what people said seriously, and just gotten a regular job somewhere instead? Thankfully they didn't. And if they can do it, why not you? That's what you need to be saying to yourself. Why not me?
Every time I go to Barnes and Noble now I look at all the books. Why not me? Every time I watch a movie at the theater I ask myself, "Why not me?" Because the truth is there's no reason why my books shouldn't be there. There's no reason I can't have a movie on the big screen. But that's all stuff for another episode.
People have a false perception that art doesn't actually matter. But they're wrong. Of course they're wrong.
Everything is touched by art. Everything is connected. Don't miss out on the opportunity to make someone's day better for having experienced YOUR THING. Do your thing! Maybe you can even change a life with what you do. Think about that. Your thing could completely change someone's life. It could inspire someone. It could ease their suffering. It could bring them joy. And that's amazing.
By changing one life you also change the lives of every person that person affects, and so on. So don't listen to the naysayers. They don't want you to succeed because that will highlight how they aren't doing what they want to be doing. It makes them look bad. They're just crabs in a bucket, dragging you down because misery loves company. They need you to fail so they don't have to put in the effort to improve. So what do you do? Succeed! Success is the only answer. Never turn down your flame because someone else can't take the heat. Never. You need to be doing your thing. Don't count on people to give back to you for your efforts, as much as I hate to say that. Some people just can't be troubled to pay you 99 cents for your song or your ebook. That's just how some people are. They don't value you. That's okay. There are plenty of others who do. Focus on them. Find those ones. Focus on your thing. You can always hope for the best, hope there are people out there who understand this, that you have to eat too, that you have to work and take care of your business and THEN you can create something beautiful after all that other stuff is done, just so other people can enjoy it and think that they're entitled to it for whatever reason. Those people, they love to consume and consume your stuff so much when it's free, but if you give them the option, if you say hey man, help me do this full time so I can make even more stuff for you to enjoy. Most of them are going to look at you and choose to keep their one dollar, like what you're asking is an arm and leg. Let them keep their bullshit dollar. Because they'll never understand. Just persevere, even long after you want to give up. The right people will come around and you will too.
Never give up. And don't do your stuff for free. You deserve to get paid.
That's all I've got for your ear holes this week, and since I don't like advertising other people's shit, this is the part where I ask you all for help so I can keep this going. Everything I do I have to do in my spare time, so help me get to the place where I can do it full time! Three things you can do to help me out here:
- Shoot me a dollar on Patreon. Seriously. Just one dollar gets me closer to producing entertaining or informative stuff for you all EVERY DAY. Come on. I believe in you.
- Rate or review this podcast on iTunes.
- Subscribe to this podcast and my newsletter.
That's it. Those three things help tremendously. And if you did all three, they only cost you a dollar.
Like these podcasts? Help me keep them going by throwing me $1 on Patreon.