I was sitting in a hospital with my father, Auntie and Uncle the other day, when my Auntie raised a topic that I had wanted to get off my chest for a while.
Firstly I will explain her topic and then move on to apply this to my thoughts of late.
My Aunty was discussing that when she retires, herself and her husband, had always discussed the idea of starting a village of close friends that were in similar circumstances. They all would not have a great deal of money (naturally as one could expect in retirement) and therefore, they would try to rule out the idea of money exchanging hands. Rather, skills would change hands instead.
Someone would be in charge of baking the bread for the community, while another person chopped the wood to warm the fires of every house, while another person picked the ripe lettuce out of the ground to be served in everyone’s salad and the benefits are shared around this community in a tight knit circle.
Now I am not suggesting that I am about to run off and join this village, although it really sounds a lot healthier for my mental capacity. However, the discussion of skill sharing definitely could and should present some golden opportunities within an industry that can, at times, represent similar situations as the retired folk that have been discussed above. Particularly when we focus on the subject of money.
Within the arts industry, I will so often meet with new bands and discuss whether I can be of service to them as a Publicist or Marketer. The general reply back is that they do not have the money to pay for these skills at this current time. I find myself wishing that I could go back to the times of when I worked my hours for free, however, I am in the position where I too, need to earn an income in this industry. So I regrettably find myself having to move onto other potential clients for work, even though I believe in what they are doing. This is not where the story should end for anyone though.
So you’re an incredible band that has a great set of songs and story to communicate but you have no money. Okay, now it is time for you to go out and introduce yourself to the following people
(a) Steve, a 2nd year photographer, studying at a tertiary institution with a limited portfolio and a love for live music
(b) Emily, Jack and Sarah, also 2nd or 3rd year students, that would like to boost their show reel in film
(c) Rohan, a 3rd year Public Relations student who is itching to get experience in any industry so he can learn how to pitch to media
(d) Devin, a savvy marketing student who is in his 2nd year and would rather be out there doing things, rather than sitting in a lecture that is becoming less relevant by the hour
With some phone calls to the appropriate lecturers or course coordinators and some coffee meetings, you could find yourself moments away from having yourself an incredible Marketing team to drive your music message to the audiences that you need to reach.
Meanwhile, your Marketing team is loving the fact that they actually now have some real experience to attach to their CV when they go for that next job that can actually pay them.
Now, this is just a theory. I am not saying it will work in every case. However, once upon a time I was one of those students itching to get experience and rather than have an artist approach me, I went out looking and got an opening with a festival internship. I have even used this model to help elevate students (turned friends) and I up the ladder in certain circumstances, to the point, where those students are now professionals who are paid accordingly for their time.
So if you are an artist with no money, perhaps it is time to share what you have to offer to the table, then take the skills of others to help you, while, in turn, you help them to showcase their skills. At some point, hopefully both the artist and the enabler will elevate themselves to a point where neither have to offer their services for free anymore.