As a Spoken Word Artist, people are always asking me to perform for FREE. They may not have a budget or are just looking for free talent, however, I decide what's the best course of action for me. I decide if the exposure is worth no honorarium. However, I am consistent. No matter if the show is paid or unpaid, I still give 100%. I am realistic in my approach and negotiation. Think long term. If this is the first of many events, you may not have a budget now, but you may in the future... You may get this one for free, but the next event, I want to feature, name on flyer and an honorarium. If you can't handle your business, hire someone who will. However, if the person is charging $20 at the door and not giving you gas money... that's a problem.
Too many times, we as artists get wrapped up in our own hype. Too cool to follow people on twitter, like their FB pages or follow their blogs. It doesn't make you weak. It's called NETWORKING! Connecting with like-minded people, showing a mutual respect for other artists. I'm weirded out when I see someone with 20K followers and they aren't following anyone. No one inspires you. No one motivates you. That's your ego. Check it and get back to grinding...
In your quest to become an artist, you are often times discouraged by the negativity around you and in your own head. Constantly hearing that most people won't make it or there's a lot of talent around you. However, you have to know withing yourself that you are a winner. The only person stopping you in you. The moment you decided that your passion is a hobby is the moment you tell yourself that you're not good enough. WRONG! You are. Most successful people are successful because other people gave up. Other people gave in. They just stood their ground. It's not about talent because you clearly have it in abundance. I simply ask you " How bad do you want it?"
As someone who has JUST figured out the business end of being an artist, I can safely say that NO ONE WILL PROMOTE YOU LIKE YOU PROMOTE YOU! You know your best assets. You know your strengths. Too many times, we let the promoter (or lack there of) define who we are and what we can do. WRONG! Everyone likes to work with and book an approachable artist. The moment you feel like your name is going to sell out the venue... Check your ego! Remember your early grind and hustle. Remember the email blasts, text blasts and FB posts when you were excited about your show. Stay in that hustle. The moment you let it is the moment you lose momentum. Be about the business of YOU!
As an artist, you MUST control your brand. It is imperative to being a WORKING artist. It is your job to befriend the photographer, promoter and staff. Your networking skill must be above reproach. Having a CD and business card on hand is an understatement. Being approachable is what seals the deal. Promoters aren't just looking for artists, they are looking for entertainers. People who can kill it on and off the stage. I learned a great lesson recently. Despite someone's interest in your career, they will never take care of you like you take care of you. If you can't hire your own photographer, buy a camera and keep an empty memory card on deck. The proof is in the pudding. Artistry is now digital. Control your brand!
Performing in Shows if very different. It's like an Open Mic times 10. Think of it. People have paid $$$ to see you perform. This is not the time to test out a new piece or try a new hairstyle. This is the time to put your best foot forward and give the people a show. From your outfit, piece, exit, entrance- you are a paid performer and you should act accordingly. Preparation is key. Arriving on time is key. Shaking hands and thanking the promoters/handlers is key. Approaching a Show like an Open Mic is a BAD IDEA. This is not rehearsal... It's SHOWTIME!
Where do I pay my imaginary dues? Do you accept Paypal? Can I pay in installments? Riiiigggghhhttt! Art and true artistry is about survival of the fittest. Whomever is the most creative gets the gold. No matter if you've been in the game 10 days or 10 years. Too many times, we let "veterans" give us the red or the green light when in fact, we should trust our own gut and put the pedal to the metal. This game is about creativity and expression... There is no shelf life on that!