Friday, December 18, 2009

Art versus Business

Friday musings...

It is called Show BUSINESS not Show Art.

Do we know the difference and how to develop the difference as artists?

How the business sees us, when they see us, IF they see us is often out of our control. However, if we want to WORK and try to make a living, what is the compromise that is livable?

Your artistry and your development vocally and dramatically is up to you. How you translate that into business is a very different animal.

We can either bitch about it and whine and complain, or we can recognize what we have, how we nourish it and develop it artistically AND how we promote it within the business.

Our artistic development is ongoing and uncompromising! Who we are, who we are becoming is not up for negotiation. This is crucial in recognizing the difference between art and business.

Business is about negotiation. Business is about buying and selling PRODUCT. YOU are the product. What is the business buying?

Once we really understand the difference, we will not confuse the two and the emotional investment we need as an artist will not enter into the business side.

Art is about creation and journey. Business is about product and result.

Can you balance this? Some cannot. This is okay too. Some are artists cannot and will not make any transition or movement into the business world. This is a decision and if your artistic soul will not, cannot, or chooses not to go to this side, THIS IS FINE!!! YOU are ultimately the one who makes this decision.

Some performers are all about product and result and not about artistic journey at all. They are all business and this works for them.

Some of us work to create a balance between both. We are artists first and have a place we call home that keeps us anchored and secure. We have a journey that is unique and a place we can be still and ask the big questions, and remind ourselves why we do what we do when the business side gets overwhelming!

As we take that step to discover the product of us, we must be firmly planted in our artistry and know we are not leaving it behind, but rather, using it as a compass and a place to return!

Often the business sees us differently than we see ourselves. It doesn't mean the business is wrong, nor does it mean you are wrong!!! The differences can be reconciled if you are willing to get creative with it as long as it doesn't compromise your integrity as an artist or as a human being. YOU decide what is negotiable and what is not. YOU decide what are deal breakers and what you can consider.

Know what business you are in! "Show Business" is a huge label and within it, there are many businesses that operate very differently. Opera is different from Music Theatre is different from voice over work is different from commercial singing is different from the cabaret world is different from concert and recital work is different get my point!

Many of us have a foot in many angles of our business, so know where you are that day! So many angles not enough feet!!! Recognize the place you stand - the expectations, the realities, the necessities, the compromises...can you stand there and create? If yes, then explore it! If no, then walk away and find somewhere else to be!

Many of us have types or fachs that may not find "home" right away - and we have to hurry up and wait!!! So, while you are waiting, what are you DOING???? How are you developing your craft and your artistry and still exploring what you can do in the business?

Some of us have physical types that just don't match our voices within the business. SO what do you do? Give up? Walk away? NO!!! SING with your voice - your artistry leads you! Perhaps you have to compromise WHAT you sing if the business wants to hire you. Can you do it? Does it make SENSE to you - artistically, vocally? If it's not going to compromise your instrument, can you do it? Will you do it?

Only you can make that decision. This is where the balance of artistic soul and business savvy comes into place. Compromise does not need to mean selling out! You and only you have decisions to make.

Where is your talent best served artistically and where is it best served as product? Sometimes you have options, and sometimes the answers are different places. If you are willing to explore, and recognize the possibilities, the possibilities grow.

Your artistic journey is yours - no compromise. It is yours to explore and develop and nurture. DO THAT!!!!

You are product in this business is about compromise. Will the business see you as you wish to be seen or will the business ask you to be something you aren't comfortable with? Will you be able to compromise and perhaps see yourself slightly differently that opens up new possibilities or not?

If the business requires you to make a compromise, this does not mean a compromise in your artistic life!!! EVER!!!! You decide if that compromise is workable, or perhaps if not, the compromise needs another negotiation so you are more content. Business is about negotiation from BOTH sides.

Can you do it? Only if you want to. The journey and the product still begins and ends with YOU.


  1. "Art is about creation and journey. Business is about product and result."

    On the bus on my way in to hear your fabulous singing the other night at the Iguana club, I was telling my friend, who is a courtroom artist, about my practice room blog where I post all the sound files of my "creation and journey."

    But I told this friend that I had recently decided to open a new blog space to show "finished works." I felt that it can be an escape to endlessly immerse one's self in the journey, and can be an excuse never to produce a "product."

    My friend, as an artist, understood this immediately. She said that there are two different things. The process, and the resulting "product" of the process.

    How amazing that you wrote about this very thing today. An avocational singer can get caught up in the process and creativity and even indulge in that, but avoid the scariness of showing something for all the work -- having a performance.

  2. This is the oldest problem for artists and it goes back to the very beginning of people being paid for their art. How to stay true to your own artistry while keeping the patrons/donors/producers happy. It's never been a problem easily solved. One only has to read biographies of famous artists and their struggles with censors, patrons and whoever else called the shots in their time to see this has always been the case. I think perhaps true success is managing to negotiate through the business without losing one's artistic integrity and there's no roadmap for how to do that. Never was and never will be.