A good piece of art is easy to appreciate and has the uncanny ability to pause time. Marketing or sales, on the other hand, most artists portray as the disruptor of art; It is the middle man most creative people happily shy away from.
The truth is, without the synergy of the two, you get something that falls flat or it never really touches people outside the room. Art stays in one place. Without museums showcasing it and the press to talk about, there is no friction with the outside world.
This thought occurred to me when I attended my first Sofar NYC event. For those of you who haven’t heard of this global community, Sofar gathers a select few of people into one room after work hours — often at a coffee or barbershop — and for one extravagant night, local rising artists perform for about 25 minutes. To get invited, you have to sign-up for the guestlist — often not knowing who’s performing — and they send the full address 24 hours before the event if you decide to buy tickets.
My specific event was located on the Lower East Side of Manhattan. The coffeeshop was cleared out, rid of laptop junkies and replaced with the hipsters of NYC. The energy was intimate and for once, I was around people of more than 20+ who had no intentions of talking business, but only to enjoy each other’s company.
The first artist was a beautiful woman, wearing a black dress with what seemed like yellow flower petals spread out in a near-perfect 45' degree angle. She acknowledged the crowd and started to play her queue of songs for the night. Her vocals were extravagant and I was caught in the moment — some might call it, “the moment of bliss.” You know, the feeling of not caring about anything else other than what’s in front of you.
Finally, I snapped out of it when the marketing hat I dropped at the door magically fell on right back on top of my head.
There was this woman, talents definitely above mine and one who dances between reality and imagination with each lyric, and there were no professional cameras recording for the outside world to witness what I and everyone else in the room admired.
There was no big sign with her name on it. In fact, due to the sudden outbreak of the coronavirus, the usual business cards weren’t handed out. The incredible host by the name of Mickey mentioned her tour dates out loud after each song — but in a world where information bounces from left to right, I doubt anybody really remembered. The crowd was too hypnotized by the beautiful voice we just heard to really listen to “sales.” All we wanted to hear was the next song.
I used to hear people say talent is scarce, I think talent is everywhere. Hidden talent just hasn’t been shown to the right, and enough people.
Robert T. Kiyosaki tells a relatable story in his #1 personal finance book of all time, Rich Dad Poor Dad when he asked a writer,
“What holds you back from achieving your dreams?” She responds, “My work does not seem to go anywhere; everyone says that my novels are excellent, but nothing happens.”
The advice she got, falls under the reality of all artists — marketing and sales. Robert responds, “A friend of mine in Singapore runs a school that trains people to sell. He runs sales-training courses for many of the top corporations here in Singapore, and I think attending one of his courses would greatly enhance your career.”
The writer proceeded to leave.
Realize this, I’m not saying it’s impossible — but why fight those odds when you’re already battling a giant. I learned from personal experience that risk-taking is good, but when you take risks, you take risks from all angles.
Artists and anybody under a creative profession must find a way to catalyze friction with the outside world. Sales school may not be completely necessary, but having somebody that thinks about it from that mindset will separate the talented, to the stars.
The obvious ones are social media. If I were her manager, I would’ve hired an incredibly inexpensive videographer to shoot the whole performance. From there, I would split the performance by song and upload it on Youtube. I would encourage her to authentically write about her experience and post it on Medium where millions of the self-care community and dreamers go to read.
During her performance, a few Instagrammers were more than happy to record. These things just come organically and with each re-post, the better her chances of other people discovering her.
Modern polymaths are people who build a combination of skills and knowledge across fields and integrate them to do the impossible. An artist doesn’t necessarily have to be a polymath, but they can find someone who thinks differently. Combine them together, and you can take change things.