Many artists and content creators struggle with monetizing their work. They are confronted with biases and self-doubt. More often than not, they think the problem is that their art is just not good enough. In the majority of cases, this is not true.
Being an artist and the ability to earn money from your art are two entirely different animals. Turning your art into a sustainable business needs an entrepreneur’s mindset. More important, mediocre art can thrive, if paired with a viable marketing approach.
The main issues why artists fail to generate income with their work are:
doing no promo at all and hoping to be discovered – it’s not going to happen
As an artist, we don’t have to take care of everything on our own but can trust others with taking care of those things for us. I still recommend doing everything yourself for a short amount of time, so you know what these tasks are about.
As you see, I am back at writing. Let’s dive deeper into these topics in the near future.
In another episode of Tanzcafé, I sat down with the prolific performer and content-creator Jasmin Rituper. She is a dancer but prefers to call herself a movement artist, to avoid labels and prejudice.
She trained many styles and worked in Austria, Amsterdam, New York, Las Vegas and Los Angeles. All of her experiences as a dancer, as well as a spiritual being, led to the creation of her own movement method, called Mechanimal Movement.
Check out her story in Tanzcafé #8, as usual for the podcast – in German language.
“Messy beginnings:” Doing something that has never been done, or at least has never been done in a specific context. Infrastructure is missing, issues are fixed with patches and bandages. The result is a patchwork from a few or many enthusiastic people that work towards a common goal.
Different people bring different experiences and different opinions, which often leads to disagreements on how to do things. That is the hard part of being first in a new space. But it is also the beauty of the process. Different brains on the same topic, give the option to do things better than in streamlined environments, where we have a “correct” way of doing things.
Working in a new, messy environment gives us room for innovation. That is what’s happening right now with Breaking at Olympia. It is also what is happening with NFTs. Both are messy beginnings and have massive potential to change breaking and business with breaking forever.
Don’t ignore things, just because they are messy. Innovation always is.
2020 and 2021 taught me that doing business with art in the way we did relies way too much on things that I can’t control. I also learned that I absolutely detest that. So what can one do, who spent half of his life dancing, teaching, and producing dance. Doing something else is not an option. Honestly, it would be too easy.
From now on, I will embark on a journey to find new ways to work with art. Ways that are more self-sufficient and less reliable on existing structures or gate-keepers.
In the tech world, decentralization is the buzzword that promises solutions to issues that only arise because we gave too much control to people who only care for profits, and not for the art. We can do the same in art. Finding alternative places to show what we do, move even more in the public space and at the same time in the digital realm. There are new distribution models that promise proof of ownership and direct compensation flowing from the audience to the artist, without being eaten up by middlemen.
I am excited to take a deep dive into these new opportunities. Let’s see what the future brings.
Strange times, that’s for sure. We are confused. Some of us scream for more personal responsibility and freedom, while others want stronger government intervention and control.
I did not publish a lot recently. Life kept me busy with things that are not related to dance. I also took the time to read and think a lot. Some books were more thought-provoking than others. Here are four that I want to recommend if you are looking for stuff to read. Two of them are fiction, two non-fiction.
1984. George Orwell.
Schöne Neue Welt. Aldous Huxley. (Original title: Brave New World)
Die gefährliste aller Religionen. Larken Rose. (Original title: The Most Dangerous Superstition)
Psychologie der Massen. Gustave Le Bon. (Original title: Psychologie des Foules, French)
If you are reading them in 2021, I guarantee for a mind-bending journey.
The new episode of the Tanzcafé Podcast is out now. This time I talk to Joana aka Joflow, who is the founder of the female artist collective All Aut Females*. Find out about her story in dance, how she balances dance and being a proud mother, and what motivated her to start All Aut Females*.
As usual, Tanzcafè Podcast is in the German language.
Cash Flow is the way we use our money to handle life. It is not exactly something that we are usually taught in school, but it absolutely should be. For artists, a smart cashflow can bring you into a position that enables you to create more, and live the life you want. The points that cover here are valid for everyone, but I use examples from the dance world.
If you want to read up on the matter in depth: Rich Dad, Poor Dad and Cashflow Quadrant from Robert Kyosaki cover those topics in easily understandable language. There is better literature if you are already in the matter but those are a perfect starting point if you want to dig deeper.
The predominant model – the Rat Race cash flow
The majority of people work a job and directly spend the money to cover their fixed cost and additional expenses. It is what is taught in schools. Get a good education, get a good job.
The issue with this model is that at the moment, you are not able to work (or don’t want to), you have no way of covering your costs. Smart fellas have a few months of savings, but it does not change the fact that you depend on your work.
Some folks consider this to be the modern form of slavery. But that is a debate for another day.
The smart cashflow that can lead to financial independence
The smarter set-up is to put your work into creating assets that make you money and pay your costs from the income produced by those assets. Assets can be anything that generates income without the need to constantly spend your time on them. Probably the most famous asset, which is also easy to understand, would be real estate. You can rent it out and get money from it. As long as you earn more from the rent than it costs you to maintain the facility, you have a positive cash flow that does not depend on yourself. Other traditional assets would be a company you own or stocks (that come with some risk).
But we don’t have the money to buy a house! Me neither. Luckily, there are many cheaper assets that you can start working on right now, based on your dance skills.
Examples of this would be online education based on recorded videos instead of live streams. It can also be books, recorded performances that require a fee to watch, templates for papers that people need, stock images of your artwork and whatever you can come up with.
The significant advantage of the income from those assets is its independence from your work. As soon as you have them up, they can sell while you do other things or sleep.
In the final stage (call it your endgame if you want), when your income from assets is higher than your costs of living, you can feed the money back into creating more assets.
How do we get there?
The abstract process to optimise your cash flow is really easy, like with most concepts. You start to build your first assets, which provide a little income. This money either goes directly into creating new assets or covers part of your fixed costs. This gives you a little bit of leverage (time or money) to continue building your reputation and assets. Now you repeat the process until your assets provide for your life.
The execution is not as easy, of course. Let me give you an example based on some real numbers from my own career. Suppose writing books would be the only way I had to create assets. At the moment I have only one book on the market. In the first three months of 2021, the average income through its sales was 91 bucks. Not a lot to write home about.
Let’s do some math. Imagine I have ten of those. Without considering that people who grabbed one book are more likely to buy more, there would be 910 bucks a month. Having 20 would be enough to make a living without doing any other work. Writing 20 books would surely take some time, and neither writing nor reading is for everyone. But in dance, there are way more options than just amassing books to sell. Having the right offer at the right time can make a substantial difference.
Be brave and be bold. Now is the time to make the change and take your financial well-being into your own hands.
In the last weeks, life was a roller coaster. I neglected writing for the blog, the newsletter and promoting the new podcast episodes. Despite not promoting them, I recorded and published. As life is getting a little bit more stable again, meet the Tanzcafé episodes 2-5 with the amazing Olivia, Sina, Jaekwon and Chris Cross.