Turning your artform into a career

The Profitable Artist: A Handbook For Turning Your Art Into A Career

Profitable-artistArtspire, a web community that provides such services to artists as fiscal sponsorship and a platform for soliciting donations, recently released “The Profitable Artist: A Handbook for All Artists in the Performing, Literary, and Visual Arts.”

The Profitable Artist is a more solid offering than most of the business of art type books I’ve checked out in the past with a take on such topics as the SWOT analysis and negotiations that should be particularly useful for DIY musicians that want to develop as indie artists.

Artspire recently launched out of beta as a platform for supporting indie artists across artistic disciplines. It’s a project of the New York Foundation for the Arts (NYFA) and together they’ve copublished The Profitable Artist.

I recently spoke with NYFA Executive Director Michael L. Royce who filled me in on both Artspire, which I’ll discuss in an upcoming post, and The Profitable Artist, which he noted is not for all artists but rather for those who want to achieve such goals as building bigger audiences or turning their artmaking into a career. As such it includes information on career planning, fundraising, marketing and other topics important to all career-minded artists.

More distinctively, The Profitable Artist includes a number of basic business concepts and approaches that would be particularly useful for DIY’ers that want to stay independent, for example:

The SWOT Analysis – Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats

Doing a SWOT analysis is a basis business technique for taking a look at what you do best, where you’re weak, the possible opportunities and conceivable threats. If you’re trying to build a team to take your indie music career to the next level, you might apply a SWOT analysis to your current situation in order to identify and prioritize your team-building needs.

For example, if you’re really into social media but hate keeping books, you’ve identified a strength and a weakness that suggests you’ll need accounting services more immediately than you’ll need help with social media marketing.

If you’ve developed a style of music that is at the forefront of a new trend that’s catching attention, you may see an opportunity in being first on the scene with the eventual threat of being lost in a wave of trendiness. Such a recognition may mean that you need to establish as high a profile as quickly as possible as someone in the forefront of this style. That will also affect who you need on your team and how your resources should be used to best advantage.

Other business concepts of use include environmental scanning, charting your cost tree, understanding how the market perceives you and your music and how to negotiate. These are concepts that can allow you to go beyond a narrow focus on specific tasks such as booking the next gig by developing a broader view of the road ahead.

The overall strength of The Profitable Artist is not that it gives you basic information on fundraising and marketing but that it also gives you an approach that ties together the details in an overall perspective based in solid business practices. There is always more to learn than any one handbook can share. Having a framework for that information allows you to keep from being overwhelmed by a thousand details while understanding how they fit together to support your work.

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