Monday, 28 July 2008

The Only 3 ways Create Success for Yourself (Part 3 of 3)

Creative Products

By this I mean the products of your own creative process, work that hasn't been commissioned by someone else.

This is the hardest way to be successful as a creative and boils down to one thing mainly...the ability to create, maintain and increase an audience for your work.

The development of an audience isn't difficult, but does involve lots of hard and repetitively work. I have previously posted on how to develop a profile as an artist, but the basics are:

Top Tips:
  • When looking for exhibitions, only approach galleries that show your kind of work. Most galleries have a very narrow spectrum of types of work that they show. Its helps them develop and maintain their audience.
  • Try and get your exhibitions reviewed if you can. Invite your local culture journalists as VIPs and press release all of the local media and promote constantly wherever you can.
  • At your exhibitions, collect and keep email addresses of visitors so you can mail them about future exhibitions and keep them up to speed with what you are up to.

Wednesday, 9 July 2008

The Only 3 ways Create Success for Yourself (Part 2 of 3)

Commissioned Work

By commissioned work, I mean all creative work that the price is agreed before the work is began.

For instance, individual arts projects commissioned by individual collectors or municipal commissions or even if you work for a design agency or other creative business for a wage. Your skills have been bought for a price and you are paid to create a piece of work to fit a particular brief.

Key to success in this area boils down to a few key things.

3 Top Tips for Success

  • Make Sure you have a clear brief - if you fail to establish a clear brief you are setting yourself up to fail before you have even started the project. If you think about it another way your brief contains your criteria of success. If those criteria are vague, then you have little chance of showing the person commissioning you how well you have completed the project. If you are in any doubt at all about any part of the brief - ask!

  • Make sure you manage your clients expectations - your client will have a number of expectations of how they want progress and development of the ongoing project reported. Agree with your client exactly what those expectations are and agree a formal structure that satisfies them totally. There is nothing worse that a client who feels left out of the development process and is constantly badgering you for information or giving conflicting information to other project partners

  • Under promise and over deliver. - a lot of creative people think that they have to big themselves up in order to win a commission and over promise. This is very short term thinking. If you under deliver on a project, you will develop a reputation for this and you will find it far harder to win future projects. It is far more constructive to be conservative in your promises and then find ways to surprise your client with added value on completion of your work.

Part 3 of this series, Creative Expression to follow shortly.

Tuesday, 8 July 2008

The Only 3 ways Create Success for Yourself (Part 1 of 3)

As a creative there are only 3 ways to earn money from your creativity. These reduce down to; working creatively in the community, commissioned work and creative expression. In the next 3 articles I will outline each one and provide a little advice on how to succeed in that area.

1. Community

By community, I mean doing creative work with particular social groups as part of a project or initiative aimed at bringing the wider community into contact with creative cultural pursuits.

In the past I have worked on small circus projects with young people in Tyneside, a schools music project in Greater Manchester, theatre projects with homeless people in Wales among many, many others. These projects are usually designed around the achievement some kind of social impact with the chosen group, for instance, reducing anti-social behaviour or engaging the group with the community beyond their own social grouping.

In the UK this is where most of the grant monies, made available by bodies like The Arts Council of England and local authority arts teams are aimed. These organisations have targets for engagement and provide grants as a form of sub-contracting to creatives in order to hit those targets.

Usually working with creatives in the UK, one of the first questions I get asked is "where can I find a grant or funding?".

The answer is, that the only place you can get grants these days is by doing work in the wider community on behalf of the organisations I have mentioned above.

3 Top Tips For Working in the Community.
  • Speak to your local Arts Development Officer - Most Local Government Offices have an Arts Development Officer, whose job it is to co-ordinate community arts projects within their area. Informing them of your presence and areas of expertise will help you to get involved in any future projects.
  • Sign Up for Arts Council Newsletters and Updates. - All of the Arts Council regional offices produce a newsletter or email round-up of current projects and future funding initiatives. Mailout Magazine published in North West England is also full of excellent information.
  • Speak to the Local Expert - All around the UK there are experts in working with community groups, find out who they are (the Arts Council or local Arts Development Officer will be able to tell you) and pick their brains about how to involve yourself in the local scene. They will usually be more than delighted to help you out with local information and contacts.

Part 2 of this series, commissioned work to follow.

Tuesday, 1 July 2008

Paul King's Top 10 Tips For Performance (Part 3, tips 8-10)

Here is the final part of Paul's top tips for performance....

8 Promotion

Don’t be shy about promoting your bands Myspace, website or up and coming gigs. Don’t overdo this either. Introducing the band name at the beginning of the set is enough. Just before the last song tends to be the best time to mention up and coming gigs, Myspace, CD and merchandising opportunities.

If you have friends selling CD’s, gathering emails or handing out flyers, point them out in the crowd or identify a spot in the venue where they will be sitting/standing after the set. If you have them wearing your bands t-shirt for identification – even better!

9 Be Polite

You would be surprised how many bands leave venues without thanking promoters, the other bands on the bill, bar managers, staff or sound engineers. These people are important to you – they can be worth 30 – 40 fans to you if you convert them – recommending you to other promoters and venues etc., securing other gigs and being invited back.

10 Feedback

Work the room after you have played a gig. So many bands disappear into a huddle or go home – get out there and speak to the fans – ask them what they thought, what songs they liked, thank them for coming. If you have emails or friends on Myspace, use the days after to message them, thank them for coming and asking them to spread the word. If you had a great night TELL PEOPLE – it will encourage more to come to your next gig.

I hope you find the above useful. Keep Rocking!

Paul King

Sunday, 29 June 2008

Paul King's Top 10 Tips For Performance (Part 2, tips 4-7)

Here is Part 2 of Paul's tips on performance....enjoy!

4 Stagecraft

Be professional about everything you do from the second you go on stage until the moment you leave. This means having set lists, having names to your songs, having instruments tuned, making the most of sound checks, having an emergency joke or riff you can play if something goes wrong, like you need a string or whatever. Thank the audience when they applaud – never turn your back on them straight after a song – acknowledge their appreciation.

5 Styling

Make some kind of effort to look the part. Over 50% of the information we take in is visual. It is not just about the music. Try and find a consistent look and style that reflects what your music and songs are about. Its showbiz folks – be a bit more stylish than your audience – its what they expect.

6 New Songs

Just like established acts, be careful when you introduce new material. How often are we pissed off when we go to see a band that plays none of their classics because they are busy plugging their new album. It’s the same for unsigned bands. If you have 4 songs on your Myspace page, then surely this is what your fans will want to hear – songs they have familiarity with. Try out the odd new song, but don’t overdo it and never use a set as a free rehearsal – your material should be well polished before you perform to a live audience, otherwise you may end up losing hard earned fans, not gaining new ones.

7 Set List

Give your running order serious attention. It’s important to create a dramatic arc to your set. Keep in mind that you will have multiple set lengths depending on where you are playing; it’s not as simple as just cutting your set in half.

Part 3 to follow...

Friday, 27 June 2008

Paul King's Top 10 Tips For Performance (Part 1, tips 1-3)

For those of you not to be lucky enough to have attended last weeks Supersonic Network event in Preston, you missed a treat!! Not only did you miss out on meeting and picking the brains of some of the top minds in the music industry, you missed out on meeting the legend Paul King.

For those of you who don’t know, Paul was the manager of Tears for Fears, Dire Straits, Julian Cope and many others. His bands sold in excess of 32 million albums worldwide and he still holds the record for the most consecutive gigs by a single band at Wembley Stadium.

Paul was kind enough to bring with him some handouts concerning how to be a great performer, which, for those of you who couldnt attend, I am reproducing for you now. They will be produced in three parts as they are quite long.

Paul wrote:

To many of you these tips may seem obvious. To many, we are probably teaching you to suck eggs. To the rest I hope it is of some help. In this day and age with mp3’s, Ipods, free downloads and 100,000 unsigned bands in the UK alone, performance is more important than ever. To many bands it may be your only source of significant revenue, to all of you it’s the best opportunity to connect with existing and potential fans.

Here goes:-

1 Be Entertaining.

The music industry is a subsection of the entertainment industry. You are competing with a quiet night in front of a DVD and a takeaway, going to the movies, going to a nightclub and even buying a book! Punters pay hard earned cash to come and see you play live so give them a show they will remember, talk about and evangelise about. It is not enough to stand on stage looking bored as if you are in a rehearsal room or a painter and decorator checking the ceiling for cracks.

2 Communicate With Your Audience.

You may think it is cool to ignore an audience and act like you are some kind of megastar. Until you are, ignoring an audience is just that – ignorant. Say hello, be friendly. Ask the audience how they are doing. Introduce the band, introduce your first songs. Punters will warm to your music far more readily if they warm to you first. They will appreciate and understand what your music is about if you put the songs in context – e.g. This song is about my ex girlfriend who ran off with my uncle – help them relate to what you are about, draw them in!

3 The Energy Funnel

So many bands leave it up to the lead singer to do all the performing. Not fair. The rest of the band should support the singer by being energetic on stage and feeding this through the lead singer, creating an energy funnel that an audience will respond to and feed back to the band. Get the energy flow right and a performance spirals upwards, fans and band feeding off each others energy – get it wrong and the set will slowly but surely fall apart.

Part 2 to follow

Thursday, 5 June 2008

Supersonic Music Network - How to Make Money From Music

There are a new set of Supersonic Music Network events all over Lancashire, where we bring established music professionals in contact with aspiring Musicians.
The theme for these events is "Making Money from Your Music".
For more information click on the image to the left, or visit
Hope to see you there.