Monday, June 18, 2018

Asking vs. Wishing

“Life punishes the vague wish and rewards the specific ask.”

Most of us have a vague wish that our music, our art, our films, or whatever we do creatively will be consumed and appreciated. Maybe we will even be remunerated for our creative endeavors. Money! For nothing! And the chicks for free!

But we have this fear that if we come out and ask someone to purchase a CD, or hire us for a show, or tell people why our art is important, we will be repudiated. (How about these 10-cent words eh?)

In general, the quote above is true. Have you ever noticed the person who speaks up, who asks for what they want, generally gets it? While we meek, polite sheep waiting for what we want end up standing in the corner, meekly hoping for the things we really want.

Once in New York City, I was hoping for a table, as we had purchased some deli food in a busy mall and there was literally no where to sit. We ended up eating standing up by the condiments station. (The food was so good!) As we were finishing, I noticed a young native New Yorker who had just ordered his food walk up to a table (that was just sitting there talking, clearly finished) and asking if they were done. They said, oh, yes, and he got the table.

He asked specifically, while we just "hoped" a table would empty.

“The squeeky wheel gets the grease.”

Like it or not, you and I live in a world where action and forwardness get results. The customer who frequently reminds the business of their issue, or their needs, gets attention. While the person who got less than great service, but who doesn’t want to appear greedy or ungrateful, says nothing...and gets nothing.

I often tell clients who say they don’t want to bother me...to bother me! I can’t know they need something or want something or have a concern unless they say so.

In a similar way, I have no idea if you are needing help with your talents somewhere out there in the world if you never email, call, or somehow get in touch. It takes action to get things going people.

Now I’m not saying that we need to be jerks to get our art out there. But we do need to be aggressive and forward, which can be done without being a jerk or bothersome. It just takes consistency, focus, and simply specifically asking for what we want.

“I learned this, at least, by my experiment; that if one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours..” - Henry David Thoreau

Have a great week!


For the Creative Soul is a service of Cre8iv Entertainment, Inc., a multi-faceted creative, action-oriented company that focuses on educating, creating, producing, and marketing creatives for success. We’re working, want to get working too?

Find out more about us at cre8iv.com or find your creative direction below.

Christian/Gospel Ministry and Music - CreativeSoulOnline.com
Jazz Recording and Career - CreativeSoulJazz.com
Positive Music for Film/TV/Advertising - PositiveSpinSongs.com
Watch our Artists/Hear our Music - Cre8iv.tv

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Creating for Consumption

“Consumption is the sole end and purpose of all production; and the interest of the producer ought to be attended to, only so far as it may be necessary for promoting that of the consumer.” - Adam Smith

Consume is a strange word. Both it and consumption sound like bad things for some reason. But really, that’s what we create things for...so they will be consumed. Just like a meal is prepared to be consumed, or fuel exists to be consumed, we create art for consumers.

We worry about this more than we know. Music artists and songwriters want their music to be heard (and consumed), painters want their paintings to be seen (and consumed); almost anyone who makes art wants it to be experienced in some way.

It’s actually a great time to be alive if you create art. Thanks to the internet, we have a whole world that we can show our creations to. Now, as we all know this is easier said than done. How do you make noise in such a large market?

Beyond that, what other options are there to get your work consumed? Sure, you’d love to make some money at it, but are you more worried about getting paid...or being consumed?

It’s a choice you have to make with many artists choosing to give their art away for free. Strangely, both selling creative things and giving it away requires a lot of work!

Selling to Consumers

In this case, let’s call consumers people who enjoy music, art, dance, comedy, photography, video or whatever you do. There are several usual directions to buying consumers of art.

  1. Perform/Present. If you are a musician, painter, artist, dancer, comic, or other performing artist, you can still get your art in front of people and do your thing, as it has been done for centuries. It’s the oldest way for audience consumption of your art, and still is as popular. Most times, live performers are paid for their work, and also allows for product sales.
  2. Digital Distribution. This is likely the next most popular way to get people consuming your art. Putting music on Spotify, videos on YouTube, pictures on Instagram, or whatever digital site or app you prefer. These are available to everyone, and they are pretty much free. Unfortunately, the sales or money from online distribution can be low, especially for new artists starting out.
  3. Physical Distribution. This doesn’t exist as much for music as music CD distribution is almost dead. Art shows are still a staple for selling copies of art or photography. Video sales/rentals are still strong, but more so for major Hollywood productions.

Giving Away to Consumers

There’s also a growing model built around the “free” principle that says to find ways to use free as a distribution model. In other words, give away the stuff that you can and charge for things like performance, selling live etc.

It is proven that people will consume things, especially if it is given as a gift. Author Chris Anderson (“Free”, “The Long Tail”) talks about a gift economy we live in today. Many of us were raised on “buy one, get one free” that still makes us buy things at Publix we wouldn’t normally buy walking in.

I’ve given away hundreds of CDs this year, and people are consuming them because they were free. It might be a model we all need to look at, because kids growing up now are getting pretty used to free.

“... a generation raised on the free Web is coming of age, and they will find entirely new ways to embrace waste, transforming the world in the process. Because free is what you want – and free, increasingly, is what you're going to get.” - Chris Anderson

Why Consumption is So Important

While it seems a rather dire way to put it, the message is clear: No matter if we sell it, show it in a video, put a CD or book in someone’s hands either free or sold, our goal with our art must be that it is seen, heard, and ultimately consumed by someone. It’s how we know what the reaction is. It’s how we know we changed someones day with our art. It’s how people are blessed by the talents God has given us.

It’s not about promoting yourself. It’s not even necessarily about making money. It’s about letting people think about and digest the words you write, hear and be moved by the notes you sing or play, and to be captivated and inspired by the images, video, or art you put in front of them.

“My ultimate aim would be to captivate an audience, even just for a second.” - Tabrett Bethell

Have a great week!

For the Creative Soul is a free a service for all creatives. For more about all the creative things we do, go to cre8iv.com

Tuesday, May 08, 2018

Created For a Purpose

“The purpose of life is not to be happy. It is to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well.”
― Ralph Waldo Emerson

This week’s blog is pretty short and sweet, but perhaps one of the most important.

You were created for a purpose. You are God’s unique design, that He created to do things only YOU can do.

It may not feel that way all the time, but there are things that only you can do. You have something different, something that for whatever reason, whatever life has thrown at you, where you are from, or what particular skills you have, it makes you special.

And that specialness, that uniqueness, that particular thing you do is why you here on this earth.

You know what it is. You know the thing that you do, that you can’t help doing. That talent, that creative or natural skill. It is just what you do.

It’s not chance. It’s not happenstance, or coincidence.

You were put here for a reason. So whether you believe in God, the universe, or the freakin’ Force, it’s time to quit denying it, putting it off, or not making the time.

“I believe that God has put gifts and talents and ability on the inside of every one of us. When you develop that and you believe in yourself and you believe that you're a person of influence and a person of purpose, I believe you can rise up out of any situation.” - Joel Osteen
“For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” Ephesians 2:10 (NIV)

Have a great week!


For the Creative Soul is written for the creative artist inside all of us. How will YOU be creative this week? For more creative articles like this one, go to http://www.FortheCreativeSoul.com

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Living a Part-time (Full-time) Creative Life


"Being a rock n' roll star ain't a part-time gig." - Steven Van Zandt
So, you’ve decided that either your job is too lucrative to quit for the paltry income an arts career may provide. Or, you’ve just chosen to keep creative talent special and not your main job, even though it may be fun (basically my last article scared you off the idea!)

Well, I’m here to tell you that 90% of the music artists and songwriters I’ve worked with over the last 30 years are just like you. They are folks who have regular jobs, or are stay at home moms or dads, or just enjoy the outlet that their artistic calling gives them in the nooks and crannies of their life. 

Now with that said, it’s important to note that not all 90% of people who do something creative part-time treat it lightly. In fact, half of those people, and indeed half of the people I have worked with who create art, music, write, or whatever, are completely driven by it, even if they have a full-time job doing something else.

I call this a part-time (full-time) creative life. I did it for years when I worked other jobs besides music, and in many ways, I still do it! 

Even as I go about being a busy big picture guy and executive producer for artists and songwriters, I have MY music, writing, and other brands that I am very serious about it. Just like you, it occupies my every waking thought and is what I let my mind dream about. I plan what I’m going to do with my different personal artistic brands, and I work full-time on them in my mind, even though I am also working full-time for others.

How does this work? How do you keep a full-time artistic life going while also working full-time? Well, here’s how I do it.

Lists, Lists, Lists
"Productivity is never an accident. It is always the result of a commitment to excellence, intelligent planning, and focused effort." - Paul J. Meyer
I often say if it wasn’t for Evernote, I'd have no idea how I would do everything I do. Really any note program, or even a hard copy journal or notebook that you always keep with you will do. What I like about Evernote is that it’s with me no matter what device I’m working on or where I am. Mac, PC, iPad, iPhone, it doesn’t matter. Likely one of those devices is going to be with me wherever I might be. That way as an idea comes along randomly for a new song, story, production process, blog post, business idea, or just something that I want to add to one of those, I am able to jot it down.

I keep lists on everything. From my To Do list where I keep everything I need to do for clients, songlists of each client, new song, blog, or business ideas, to my own personal To Do lists for each music or business brand I am trying to work on of my own.

When I am bored, or wanting to be creative, I go to my lists and edit. They remind me what I need to be doing with my time. I pick the one that interests me most at that moment, and I get to it. 
"I make lists to keep my anxiety level down. If I write down 15 things to be done, I lose that vague, nagging sense that there are an overwhelming number of things to be done, all of which are on the brink of being forgotten." - Mary Roach
Pick Your Spots

Where in your schedule can you carve out a few hours to work on your craft? Is it early in the morning before everyone gets up? Is it an hour after everyone goes to bed? Is it a few hours at a bright and sunny coffee shop where you can sit alone with some headphones on, tune out the world and focus on your creative goals and ideas? It is a lunch break where you can sit under a tree and add to or edit your lists? This can can let you see progress as you cross out things you’ve done towards your goals.

It’s absolutely crucial to have these times you can focus. Maybe that time needs to be spent actually creating and not tending to lists. Maybe you have times set aside for both. But with a busy full-time day job, and especially if you also have a family to be there for, it is absolutely imperative that you have this time set aside.
"You will never find time for anything. If you want time you must make it." - Charles Buxton
Don’t Forget to Create

It is pretty easy to get all wrapped up in planning and never get to the creating. Lists can help, because they remind you of that creative thing you need to do. But the DOING can be the real problem, and it doesn't matter where you are or when it is.
"They can put me in a jungle. Still, I can create." - M. F. Husain
Maybe it’s a selfie video of a new cover song. Maybe it’s to sit down and finish that chapter or section of your book that is holding up your novel? Whatever it is, you need to get to it. It’s too easy to live wanting to do something creative, planning to do something, and never get anything done because life happens. I regret all the years I ignored my music and writing because I was working too much or being distracted by other things.

Above ALL creating is the most important thing you can do if this is your calling. So without endangering your family, your health, or job, it’s probably your next important thing in life. 
"A creative person has to create. It doesn't really matter what you create. If such a dancer wanted to go out and build the cactus gardens where he could, in Mexico, let him do that, but something that is creative has to go on." -  Katherine Dunham
Share Your Talent
"Oh, how miserable it is to have no one to share your sorrows and joys, and, when your heart is heavy, to have no soul to whom you can pour out your woes." - Frederic Chopin
Even though I was ignoring my own music and writing during some years, I still was working hard for other artists and songwriters. I don’t feel that time was wasted as I was sharing the creative talents God gave me. Maybe some of you reading this use your talents in church or education for others. But there is also sharing with others your talents from YOU. And that is something we all are usually somewhat reticent to do. It’s not easy to shine a spotlight on yourself. It doesn’t come naturally for everyone. But we have to do it.

It’s not about being a “star” or quitting your job to pursue this full-time like we talked about last time. It’s about sharing the talents God gave you publicly. Now this can be done in your church, or even via video now via Facebook or YouTube. It doesn’t have to be a solo thing. But finding ways for people too consume your talents in some way is key. 

If it’s your own work it may be difficult to share in your church or school for many reasons. The internet provides many options for authors, singers, songwriters, artists, and more to the world. There are even ways to make part-time income using your creative talents on services such as UpWork, Fiverr, and Thumbtack.

Yes, your full-time, part-time creative life can make you some money too. And in fact it should! But it doesn’t have to. You could choose to give everything you create away for free, and there are some reasons you should think about that. But that too...is another post.

Have a great week, Creatives!

--

You can live whichever creative life suits you, full-time or part-time, just do one! For more creative blog posts like this one, go to FortheCreativeSoul.com

Thursday, March 29, 2018

Making a Living, Making Art

You know the feeling.

You are consumed by the music, writing, painting, poetry, dancing, whatever it is you make. How it makes you feel. There’s really nothing like it in the world. It consumes your every thought even when you are not doing it. Many times when I am not working on a song, story, or some other creative project, I am thinking about it. Planning it out in my head. Sometimes jotting down new ideas to implement later.

If it’s music, it’s the chords, melody, or lyrics. The way it sounds when you hit that final note. The peace it brings you to know you made that. If you’re a writer, it’s getting those words out on paper, or getting feedback on what you wrote in a blog or book. If you are painter, it’s about the finished piece hanging up in front of you. The satisfaction that it is done. A thing made.

Sometimes other people feel those same things about your art, but that doesn’t always matter as much as just how good it feels to make it.

If only there was a way to make money at this. Whether that means you find someone to pay you to make art all day, or you just do it on your own and find a way to sell your art. It really doesn’t matter. You just want to to make a living doing it.

Then comes the hard decision. Does it become the way you make your money to pay your bills and live? Should it? Can it?

The Case Against

Going full time making art is not easy. It requires very low expectations of income. If you have a spouse making income enough to cover bills, and your family can live on that, it’s another story. But if you are the chief bread winner for yourself or your family, being a full-time artist is more than challenging.

Selling your art, whether in person in live concerts, showings, or other live events, or online sales requires supreme focus on events, new product, and sales, sales, sales. If you are hoping to support your family by being a performing artist of any kind, it means that booking yourself is as important as performing or even making new art.

I think the real issue is that your “art” can become work, and that is a problem. Then the thing you love becomes this thing that has so much pressure on it to make money, that it ceases to be that thing you even want to think about. It’s just work. And that is no way to think about the thing which used to excite you and keep you dreaming about it all the time.

This is especially the case if you work for other people doing your art. It can become very easy to be doing “their” art and not your own. They may even limit your artistic addition or ideas in favor of their own. This can be very irritating, if not downright soul-crushing at times. We jokingly call it “living the dream”, but it can become a nightmare over the years. People will say you are so lucky, but you will find yourself wondering why you aren’t following your muse like you used to.

The Case For

OK, if you aren’t completely depressed by now, let’s talk about some reasons to focus every bit of creative energy you can, and how to make a living doing it.

I’ll start off by saying, if you can get to a point where most or even a portion of your bills are covered by doing creative things YOU love to do, there is no greater feeling. Even if that just means being able to treat your family to a dinner based on artistic earnings. Pretty cool.

It may take years of trial and error, it may take being laser-focused on hard work, but you can make a living doing ONLY what you want. But you have to want it more than anyone else, and you have to MAKE it happen. Daily. I know a music ministry that has supported a family of eight traveling across the US in an RV for years now. But that would never happen without full time attention to not only performing, but also booking, planning, social media updating, tons of emailing, and living a life like no one else. But guess what, that’s what it takes.

I sound like Dave Ramsey. You will live (sacrificing and working all the time) like no one else so you can live (as a creative full-time) like no one else. You’ll work 60 hour weeks and not think about it. Because it won’t feel like work. If you do it right, it will be fun and relaxing to do, and the hours you spend doing it will fly by.

The biggest plus? You can leave the artistic legacy on this world that God put you here for (which you can also do if you don’t do it full time by the way).

Now, what if you want to just do this part time? How do you do that along side your job? Well, that is another blog...maybe next week?

Have a great week Creatives!

EC
--
Eric Copeland makes his whole living off making art for others by others, and his by him. As president of Creative Soul Records, he helps other build brands to make art and a few work to make that a living. He is still working on making his own art his living....

Read more about Eric's plight to make a living making art at EricCopelandMusic.com and more about Creative Soul at CreativeSoulOnline.com. Read more blog posts like this at FortheCreativeSoul.com

Monday, March 12, 2018

Free Revisited

Some time ago I wrote a blog post specifically to people involved in music called “What If We Gave It Away?” It was met with one part celebration, one part scorn and ridicule, and one part...huh?

Recently I have started giving away some of my excess CD products at a local thrift store. Not giving it to them to sell, but offering it in the front of the store, completely free. Besides freeing up some space in my garage, and a write off if I really want to since it is a charity thrift store, it just feels good that the music is getting to people’s hands...and hopefully ears.

What if there was a way to disseminate our art to thousands or hundreds of thousands. For free. What if we just gave away physical product to those who value a CD, or a small MP3 player with headphones, or a book we wrote or containing our art. Or T-Shirts? Or DVDs with our videos or short films?

Not Online, But in Person

In the previous post I suggested we give it away online. But perhaps I had it backwards. We keep all our art for sale online. We still sell CDs and merch at shows. Let people still support us there as they do now and buy it at whatever price we think is fair. 

But if they discover us by other means (a thrift store, a gift at a hospital, or in a retirement community, or at a table at a fair, college or trade show) it could lead to more of the long tail of sales and discovery we need as marketing.

What if we found a way to distribute thousands or tens of thousands, or even more to people for free and let them just absorb it. Fall in love with something they took because it was free. What does it hurt if someone across the country (or down the street) that doesn’t know you takes a free CD, or book home from someplace and discovers your art?

Last year we started a non-profit side called Creative Heart with A.C.T. International. We have offered it to artists to use to raise money, but that hasn’t seemed very popular so far. Maybe putting it on artists to raise money for their efforts is not the right model.

But what if we found people that would give monthly to see art distributed around the country and the world? Perhaps at some point we could even find the donations to make the art as well as distribute it. Creators could still be free to sell their art if they wanted to, online and in person. But the real goal of Creative Heart would be making our art available for free out in the real world where people live. (These would likely be compilations not full artist CDs unless artists wanted us to distribute their full album as well.)

The Future of a Radical Price

In his book “Free” which I am re-reading right now, author Chris Anderson talks about how brands as well known and venerable as Jell-O and Gillette got their start by actually giving away things for free to get national recognition. Jell-O came up with a free cookbook that salesman gave away to show what you could do with Jell-O. Gillette gave away disposable razors by the millions to encourage sales of disposable razor blades, it’s true product. Both are now 100 year old brands because of this method.

Perhaps as a label and artists we need to find a way to give away products or songs by the thousands or tens of thousands to let people realize the quality of our brands, then they can go search online and find ways to buy, download, or stream our work. Or perhaps encourage then to contact us and bring our creative talents to them?

I know when I write these blog posts many of you sit there reading going, “Yeah, I can see that!” Or, “Yeah, right. Easy for you to say Bub!” But I create my own art just like you do. As I look at the finite amount of years left on this earth, I want as many people in the world to hear, read, and watch the creations I am making. If perhaps someone enjoys the music, writings, or visual media I create, and it touches them as much as one of my favorite bands, authors, or filmmakers does for me, then I will feel I achieved what God put me here for.

Can I hear an amen?

It's Just Marketing Folks

We let radio play (actually we pay THEM to play) our music for free hoping people will hear it and want to buy it, or at least be blessed by it. We put our paintings in (or pay to be in) galleries for free hoping people will buy our art. We do all sorts of free things online or contests we pay for, or let Spotify, Apple Music, YouTube, Vimeo, and the like play our music hoping for some pieces of pennies. All so our music will be heard.

We have to think of this as a radical, guerrilla type of marketing. Go find the real people in our country, or other countries. The ones who still listen to CDs, read books, and love art. Let them see, hear, and fall in love with our creative songs and albums, then build a demand for our music in a more authentic, grassroots way than just hoping someone finds us online and discovers our genius.

I’d like to hear your thoughts on this. Would you be willing to give away hard product to local thrift stores, hospitals, retirement communities, or have your art given away for free at fairs, colleges, and trade shows? What if we had a system to give thousands or tens of thousands of pieces away? Would you want to be part of it?

I know I would.

Have a great week!

EC
Eric Copeland is giving his music and books away where he can to get people listening and reading, and also selling and licensing it online. For more about his creations go to EricCopelandMusic.com, or for more writings like this one go to FortheCreativeSoul.com

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Prepared Beforehand

“For we are His workmanship [His own master work, a work of art], created in Christ Jesus [reborn from above--spiritually transformed, renewed, ready to be used] for good works, which God prepared [for us] beforehand [taking paths which He set], so that we would walk in them [living the good life which He prearranged and made ready for us].” - EPHESIANS‬ ‭2:10‬ ‭AMP‬‬

This verse just got me one day: Prepared Beforehand. Did you read that? God literally set your path as a creative, as His workmanship to do good works. That HAS to be make you feel nothing but good. Even if you feel nothing has happened with your artwork, or your songs, or whatever creative things you have made. Read the verse again.

This is one of those verses that really needs no blog post. No cheer leading from me needed. No other pithy quotes that should inspire you more.

Just read that verse a couple of times.

OK, one more quote, and this one hit me hard inspiring a whole new project coming up.
“Every man lives in two realms: the internal and the external. The internal is that realm of spiritual ends expressed in art, literature, morals, and religion. The external is that complex of devices, techniques, mechanisms, and instrumentalities by means of which we live.” - Martin Luther King, Jr.
God prepared us to live as creative beings and deal with these things. Even if God isn’t your cup of tea, read the MLK quote and marvel over its significance to our creative lives.

OK, that’s all I got for you. If those two don’t inspire you today, you’re on your own. But I hope they do, and you write a great poem, book, song, or otherwise make awesome stuff this week!

EC
Eric Copeland is composer, author, and does other creative things. It just depends on the moment. To see his creative things go to EricCopelandMusic.com 

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About the Author

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Eric Copeland is an author, producer, keyboardist, songwriter, and president of Creative Soul Companies. What is Creative Soul? Our main goals are to inform, encourage, and assist Christian creative folks in ministry, no matter where they are in their journey. Thanks for reading! Find out more about us at http://www.CreativeSoulOnline.com