Why Being Great Is NOT Enough for Today's Creatives

entrepreneurship Dec 30, 2020

Being good at your creative craft isn’t enough to build a career.

Being great at your creative craft isn’t even enough to build a career.

You devote yourself to cultivating your craft and developing your gift, while your friends and family cheer you on… or perhaps, against their wishes, because your passion gives you no other choice…

And after YEARS of hard work, the message everyone sends your way is, 

“Wow, you’re really talented. Good enough to really go somewhere with it, if you get lucky!”

And yet, for 99% of the artists who are “good enough” at their craft, in the eyes of the layperson, to make a career of it…

The “powers that be” couldn’t care less about your talent, your discipline, your focus, or your passion.

This is the uncomfortable reality of the digital era which we find ourselves in…

It was harder for creatives to become GREAT

As a species, we’ve been building on our ability to learn for a millennia... 

...and with the tools freely available to anyone with an internet connection, any aspiring artist with a work ethic can take themselves novice to expert from the comfort of their bedroom.

Take the world of music, for example - my own personal artistic arena:

100 years ago, guitars were a LOT harder to come by - especially if you came from poverty… and guitar teachers were possibly even more rare than guitars themselves.

So for guys like Mississippi John Hurt, or Robert Johnson (some of my favorite early blues legends) - the stars had to align for them to even get their hands on an instrument to learn on, let alone someone to teach them the basics.

Then they had to all but teach themselves everything they knew... spending countless hours discovering the mechanics of the instrument, like pioneering scientists in a new field of study.

Through the sheer number of obstacles in their path, very few folks reached  the caliber of technical proficiency and musical innovation on guitar that those early bluesmen did… 

...and of those who did, only a tiny fraction ever got their music recorded - let alone made a living from it!

That’s why you can count on two hands the guitar “legends” from that era…

Now talent is a dime a dozen

But through their innovations, and the ability to record them and share their musical discoveries with the world, the number of notable guitarists has multiplied exponentially with every subsequent generation.

Because with each new “class” of guitarists, the learning curve is flattened.

You can listen to what someone else already did, and dissect it - allowing you to skip all the trial and error that the generations before you experienced in order to simply figure out what can be done…

...and jump ahead to the point of just learning how to do it.

Which is why we now have a hundred thousand teenage guitarists who can play every solo Jimi Hendrix, Jimmy Page, and Clapton ever took, note for note… 

Teleport any one of them back to the 1960s, and they’d become a legend themselves… yet none of them even stand out from the crowd anymore.

The same goes for ANY artistic discipline…

Playwrights, authors, and screenwriters have countless masterpieces to study, with millions of pages devoted to analyzing exactly why these works are masterpieces, and providing archetypal storytelling structures that have been proven to be emotionally compelling…

...and as a result, there are more talented authors writing more good books than ever - yet most of them have to self-publish (and barely anyone reads their work) because there simply aren’t enough publishers to handle all the content.

Visual artists have countless works and techniques to study and analyze, with art aficionados galore to explain why these pieces stood out, and how to replicate the techniques that were used to create them…

And on and on and on.

Incredibly talented artists (in any field) are a dime a dozen nowadays, because the resources available to us make it SO easy to cultivate your natural gifts.

(Plus, there’s just a few billion more people alive today than there used to be - so more talent and competition is inevitable!)

The sad truth is: 

Left to their own devices, nobody is going to care about your art (with the exception of people who know you personally.)

It’s a hard, jagged pill for artists to swallow… and indeed, many refuse to.

For the artist with a healthy ego, it’s far more comfortable to embrace the “starving artist” stereotype… 

...and blame their lack of financial success on capitalism, or on the commercialization and commoditization of art perpetrated by the mainstream.

And for those on the more sensitive side of the spectrum… 

...it’s all too easy to internalize the lack of innate interest in their work, and take it to mean that they simply aren’t worthy of success.

How to take control of your success

Thing is - neither of those perspectives is *actually* true (assuming you’ve put in the time to become exceptional at your craft.)

There ARE artists out there, making a name for themselves and building thriving careers - despite the lack of funding, representation, or any other leg up that we’re taught we need to succeed.

The difference between these artists, and the ones who remain unknown (and unpaid!) for their work…

Is that the ones who succeed, have taken full responsibility for their own success.

Anyone who makes a living as a creative today will tell you the same:

It’s not enough to be great at your craft anymore... you have to be an entrepreneur, with the skills and drive to build a business around your passion.

When you DO put on the “entrepreneur” hat, and take complete ownership of your own career path… amazing things can start to happen.

Your inspiration can multiply - because you know there is actually a “market” for your art (the market that YOU discover and promote yourself to) - so you don’t have to wonder whether all the effort you put into the creative process is being wasted

You start to see opportunities for collaboration and joint ventures pop up all around you - since you no longer depend on someone else to call the business shots, and you can act on ideas and connections the moment they happen…

And best of all, you can stop experiencing life as a “passenger” - where you’re dependent on the whims and motivation of others (or dumb luck, for that matter)...

...and start experiencing the power and freedom of being behind the wheel of your own career.

PLUS - with the entrepreneurial approach, you get to slice the revenue pie yourself!

No more waiting for someone else to pay you your (often disappointing) cut for your hard work, after taking out expenses and royalties right and left to cover costs that you never signed off on…

YOU bake the pie, and you choose who to share it with, based on how their “baking” skills compliment your own.

It’s never made so much sense for creatives to step into the role of “business owner”...

But until recently, the only way to develop the knowledge and skills required to become a successful creative entrepreneur was either to:

1. Go back to school for an MBA - investing time and money you don’t really have, just to learn how to actually build a career with the creative skills you’ve already spent your life developing...


2. Piece together an education in entrepreneurship by sifting through the hundreds thousands of videos, books, and articles out there - most of which are not geared toward creatives - trying to find the gems of wisdom that are actually applicable to your career goals. 

That’s why Parson’s Entrepreneur Academy set out to create a third option, with our courses, mentorship program, and the Parsons Entrepreneur Academy Network.

The Network is 100% free for The New School Alumni, and is at the heart of everything we do - with content, guest speakers, and trainings designed to help you develop the skills you need to truly leverage your creative gifts and passions, and overcome the challenges that prevent *most* artists from building thriving, lucrative careers on their own terms.

Click Here to join The Parsons Entrepreneur Network (FREE for TNS Alumni!) Today.

Meet the author:

Addison Rice is songwriter, producer, digital marketing strategist, direct-response copywriter, and entrepreneur. He lives nomadically in a converted school bus with his wife/bandmate, Jahnavi - travelling the country and making music while he helps musicians and creative entrepreneurs build businesses around their art. 

You can find out more about Addison and his various projects at AddisonRice.com and listen to his band, The Love Sprockets, and check out their bus life at TheLoveSprockets.com.  Or, simply, follow him on instagram @hurricane.addison. 

The Parsons Entrepreneur Academy--Powered by the Parsons School of Design--is an online platform dedicated to helping creative professionals learn and master the business side of their professions. We provide community, mentoring and courses created for and by people in the creative fields.  Sign-up for our emails and learn how to turn your art into a business.


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