Articles

Category :

Career Advice

Valuable To Others, or Only You?



Valuable To Others, or Only You?
A Guest Post by Derek Sivers


When I'm hot, it's hard for me to imagine that others in the room are cold. I think it really is hot, not that it's hot only for me. It feels like fact, not opinion.

When I do something that's really valuable to me, it's hard for me to imagine that it's not valuable to others. I think it really is valuable, not that it's valuable only for me. It feels like fact, not opinion.

This is common and understandable. Our personal perception feels real. It's hard to see things from another person's point of view.

This is also the core of the “starving artist” problem.

When someone creates something that is really important, powerful, and valuable to them, it's hard to imagine that it's not important, powerful, and valuable to others.

But money only comes from doing something valuable to others.

The starving artist pours his heart into personal expression that's incredibly valuable to him, but not (yet) valuable to others. That's why no money comes.

The good news is there are two ways out of the starving artist problem, and either one can be fun.

1. Focus on making your art more valuable to others.
Art doesn't end at the edge of the canvas. Keep going. Constantly think of the audience point of view. Constantly ask, “How can I be more valuable to them?” You may come up with ideas like:

  1. Convert what you do from a public display to a personal service. Every work is customized for hire.
  2. Spread a fascinating version of your history, so they can get interested in the person first, and art second.
  3. Be more entertaining, so that people don't need sophisticated tastes to appreciate your art. (Watch the scene in Amadeus where Mozart honestly loves his friend's low-brow opera.)
  4. Use scarcity. Make your shows invitation-only.
  5. Engage more senses. If you're a visual artist, incorporate audio so even the blind would love it. If you're a musician, make a live performance so visually interesting that even the deaf would love it. Can you even incorporate smell, touch, or taste?
  6. Push to new shocking extremes to give people something to discuss afterwards.
  7. Go where money is already flowing. Adapt what you do to match the needs of businesses, holiday resorts, hospitals, universities, etc.

Then force yourself to try all the best ideas, even if it seems unnatural at first. Read books about business and psychology to get more ideas, since many brilliant minds are asking the same question from a different perspective.

Keep doing this repeatedly, paying attention to feedback from others, and you will become more valuable.

Though if you find in the long run this makes you more miserable than excited, try the other way:

2. Stop expecting it to be valuable to others. Accept it as personal and precious to only you. Get your money elsewhere.

Sex with my wife is very valuable to me and her, but luckily I'm not trying to make it valuable to others.

If you stop expecting your art to be valuable to anyone but you, your conflicted mind can finally be at peace. Do it only because you love it, and it honestly doesn't matter what anyone else thinks.

You might even keep it private like a diary, just to be clear who it's really for.

You'll probably be happier with your art because of this change in mindset. Ironically, others may appreciate it more, too, though you honestly won't care.







Originally a professional musician and circus clown, Derek Sivers created CD Baby in 1998.

It became the largest seller of independent music online, with $100M in sales for 150,000 musicians.

In 2008, Derek sold CD Baby for $22M, giving the proceeds to a charitable trust for music education.

He is a frequent speaker at the TED Conference, with over 5 million views of his talks.

In 2011, he published a book which shot to #1 on all of its Amazon categories.

Derek Sivers lives in Singapore, where he is creating his next company.



Live-Banner-General-Homepage.jpg











5 Mistakes to Avoid When Preparing Your Demo

Everything You Need to Know About Branding

How to Sell More Music as an Unsigned Artist

Musicians, the gig economy, and online learning... a happy (but dysfunctional) family.

If You Want to be a Recording Artist You Need the Right Development

15 Things You Must Do to Make it in the Music Industry

Saying no to everything else

Managing Expectations

Consistency Equals Success

How To Get Better: Practice

Separate The Emotion From The Event

Turn it down a few notches, please!

Are You Taking Ownership Of Your Songwriting Success?

The Shawshank Songwriter

Show Me Your Songwriting Friends, And I'll Show You Your Future

Getting out of a bad place

Taking your Music From a Hobby to a Career

How to change or build your career

CHOOSING THE PERFECT BAND NAME

4 important qualities of a band manager

Touring Advantages/Disadvantages From Less Than Jake

What musicians can learn from Joan Rivers

What you can learn from Bob Dylan's Career

Yes You're Talented, But Remember This…

Two Things That You Can Do to Start Making Music Industry Contacts Today

Promoting Music Internationally – The Right Way

How to Sell More Merchandise at Your Show

How To Reach The Best Music Business Contacts. Period.

4 Ways To Be A Boss A$$ Indie Artist

Are you over looking this strategy to becoming a better musician

Why You Should Be Doing House Shows

It's All of Your Business

Don't Buy Your Own Tunes

What If You Didn't Need Money or Attention?

Why Bands Need to Stop Bitching

What's In Your Toolbox?

Why You Need a Live Music Producer (And Don't Even Know It)

Many Eggs, Many Baskets: How to Make a Living as a Musician in 2014

Your Music is Just a Hobby. So What? Part 1 of TBD

Defining Success And How To Achieve It With A Career In Music

Why Talent Isn't Enough

Why You Need Your Own Superhero Alter-Ego

How To Make It In The Music Industry

What If The Label Says "YES"?

How to Avoid Artistically Starving to Death

20 Worst Indie Artist Mistakes

Why Your Most Important Tool In Being A Successful Indie Musician Might Actually Be Your Day Job

The Importance of Branding as Recording Artists

Why Bad Days Can Do You A World Of Good

How To Tell If You Need Singing Lessons

How To Ruin Your Music Career In 10 Easy Steps – Part 2 (Steps 6-10)

How to Stay Motivated to Make Music

The Self-Promotion Tactic that Fails Every Time

3 Important Lessons In Success From Bob Dylan

Sell 1000 CD's In a Weekend

Music Licensing – 90 Day Challenge

Superfans: The Key to a Sustainable Music Career

A Solution To The DIY Artists Biggest Challenge

How To Ruin Your Music Career In 10 Easy Steps – Part 1 (Steps 1-5)

What to Look For In A Distributor

Does 99% of Jazz Suck? – The Jazz Kickstarter That Seduced 870 Backers

Are You Making These 9 Band Rehearsal Mistakes?

Enhancing Your Music Marketing: The Ultimate Guide to Creating Press Kits for Musicians

7 Important Aspects to Getting Noticed in the Music World

7 Tactics to Double the Size of Your Fanbase

Why The Vocals On Your Track Are Vitally Important And How You Can Improve Them

Top 3 Tips To Find The Right Singing Teacher

Some Will Always Say You're Wrong

That Time'n Thang

Leap Of Faith

Showtime

Question & Doubt

Eat Lighting

Connecting With People In The Industry

Five Reasons You're Not Licensing More Music

The Importance Of Following Up In The Music Licensing Business

How To Fund Your Band's Kickstarter When You Have No Fan Base

Human Intervention as a Competitive Advantage

A Quick & Dirty Guide to Branding

Why it Pays to Replace Self-Promotion with Selflessness

Rules for Confronting a Difficult Band Member

It's All Who You Know?

Ignore Your Website & Social Networks and Your Career Will Suffer

Three Intelligent Ways to Make a Living as a Musician

What Musicians Should Carry at all Times

Sometimes Big Promo Doesn't Work

Avoid Band Drama: Be Up Front

How To Effectively Handle A Flaky Band Member

Why No One Is Listening To Your Music

Establish Your Blueprint

How To Avoid Serious Mistakes When Choosing An Agent

Managing The Fear of The Unknown In The Music Industry

How To Balance A Family, Your Music Career, And Your Stresses

MusicPreneur - The New Music Industry Mindset

Band Leading 202 - Gigs

How Does An Independent Artist Stay Relevant While Creating New Music?

What It Takes To Be A Successful DIY Independent Artist

Band Leading 101 - Rehearsal

How To Make Lots Of Money Selling Your Merchandise

Why You Need Great Pictures As An Artist

Overnight Success - Does That Happen?

The Power of Positive Thinking

Goal Setting Tips That Work

Easy Tips For Engaging Your Fans

Getting Things Done As A Team

4 Common Newsletter Mistakes You Should Avoid

Creating Your Social Media Image

Effectively Utilize Your Youtube Music Videos

Tips For Building A Bigger Fanbase

How To Build A Professional Music Team

The Top 5 Ways To Get Noticed in Today's Music Industry

Why Radio Spins Matter And Tips On How To Get Them

Networking Essentials For The Music Business

Why You Should Be On Pinterest

Signup Free