In the past few years, I’ve had numerous people ask me for advice about what amounts to: how to succeed as a singer (dancer, playwright, poet, author, musician etcetera, etcetera, etcetera.) Yes, that is what I am thinking most of the time after the first sentence or two, because I actually get tired of hearing it. Most people seem to only look at it from a very personal point of view, only asking ‘how can I succeed?.’ There is a more important question (in my humble opinion) which is: how can We Thrive? Our present reality dictates that there is room at the top for a precious few (who are often not the most accomplished amongst us,) and the rest (who can either fight over crumbs, or just go in a different direction.) Do you think Frank Sinatra is a house hold name just because he was a great singer? I don’t. I think he was a shrewd business man.
I suppose people ask me because I placed myself in a public position when I began publishing Listen & Be Heard Weekly with my husband. He distributed it mostly by himself, from Oakland to Vacaville. Many people looked at me solely as a newspaper publisher and writer of artist profiles they wished to be a subject of. They completely missed the point that the newspaper we worked so hard to circulate was part of our own prodigious effort to help create a thriving arts community that we were a part of. We were placing at the disposal of the local arts community a weekly publication to contribute to and advertise in. There were always plenty of things going on to write about, plenty of people and groups who were looking for publicity. There were precious few people who were willing to volunteer their time and energy to research and write those articles, help with the administrative side of publishing, or with the labor and sweat of getting 6,000 copies into 300 locations every week.
Although we no longer produce a print publication, Listen & Be Heard Network Arts News continues to serve an ever-growing network of creative people everywhere. A newspaper, and a news website, are just two examples of how to succeed as a singer, dancer, playwright etcetera. It does work. The fact that people ask me for advice is practically proof. They see me as an authority simply because they have read my writing and seen our newspaper in places they have gone. But more important than any personal gain from the venture, are all the connections that have happened between real people and organizations, the grants that people read about in our pages, applied for and received, the reviews that theatre companies post on their websites to help publicize their shows.
Here’s another suggestion. If you want to succeed as a singer, dancer, playwright yeah, yeah, yeah, organize an event. Reach out to people who you perceive to be your competition and form an alliance with them. Put together a festival and help promote everyone together. Take it upon yourself to handle a portion of the nitty gritty stuff that creative people supposedly aren’t very good at. Do you think Duke Ellington was able to keep his band on the road for fifty years just because he was a great composer? I don’t. I think he handled his creativity like a business. It’s up to the artists themselves to decide whether to play into the crassly commercial and frankly mediocre, or to define themselves what they will participate in and how it will be done.
If you’re so creative, then get creative about being successful. Here’s another suggestion. Write press releases about everything you do, everything you think, every outfit you wear, and send your press releases out to your very well researched international press list. Take it a step further and research keywords on the internet and gear your pr toward using those keywords and making it relevant to You, You, You. Take it a step even further. Ask yourself how the success of other people like you is good for you too.
I’m just thinking creatively here, but don’t ask me to do it for you. Just go for it. Go for it all the way, with every ounce of creativity that you can muster. Make it interesting. No make it fascinating, an extension of your craft, integral to your success not only as a superstar, but as a whole person too.