Why artists are sometimes their own worst enemy

Artist(e)s are often referred to as “artsy fartsy” for a reason. They have creativity in spades. Yet, they tend to lack the drive, willingness, practicality and in some cases the attitude and consistency needed to properly manage the more rudimentary aspects of their careers – like proper record-keeping.

Additionally, many fail to adequately arm themselves with transferable knowledge and skills that will benefit both the practice of their craft and business of their careers, as well as they suffer from ‘sell-out’ syndrome.

3 Ways artist(e)s hurt themselves

1. Their entire career is a record-keeping nightmare

Artist(e)s want to create and that’s about it. They hardly feel inclined to concern themselves with booking records, taxes, revenue, or any other accounting and administrative tasks. Admittedly, they have managers, accountants, lawyers, and other professionals to handle most of this sort of paperwork and rudimentary.  Still, even with all this ‘help,’ we have enough examples of artist(e)s running afoul of taxes or having to file bankruptcy to know that something is still amiss.

The truth is, artist(e)s – whether they have the assistance of other professionals – need to have a handle on their own record-keeping to ensure their success. This is particularly true in a day and age of the digital footprint. Technology makes automating tasks and managing file stores much simpler. As such, even in cases where an artist(e) has the assistance of a professional machinery, technology-based tools can be used to monitor the business processes.  Measures can be put in place to have professional partners (lawyers, accountants, managers etc.) store all information pertaining to the work and career of the artist(e) in a streamlined, easily accessible manner.

2. They fail to arm themselves with knowledge and consider other avenues

The folly of many artist(e)s lies in their faulty belief that their talent is enough to secure for them a successful future and viable career in the arts and culture sectors. Nothing could be further from the truth. While it is true that talent will get you in the door, talent (even truly exceptional talent) on its own is not enough to keep any artist(e) going successfully for a long time to come. Instead, a combination of business know-how and smart, timely decisions, added to a consistently high-quality product undergirded by talent are all ingredients needed for success and longevity.

3. They suffer from ‘don’t want to be a sellout syndrome’

The last thing any artist(e) wants to be called is a sellout. Artistic integrity is paramount. This is actually a good thing. Artist(e)s should be wholeheartedly committed to the authenticity of their work, and to provide their patrons with the highest quality product possible. The problem arises when this commitment is seen as being juxtaposed to earning well. Sadly, it is this very thinking that serves as one of the major factors keeping the reality of the ‘struggling artist(e)’ alive.

The faster creative professionals realise that it is okay to earn well from their art and that doing so does not automatically mean that they are not committed to the highest and truest form of their artistic expression, the sooner they will be able to what they love fruitfully.

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Kei Dubb
Kerri-Anne "Kei Dubb" Walker is a multilingual jazz-fusion musician, writer, and arts and culture management technopreneur. An astute business woman skilled both in the business and practice of the arts and entertainment, Kerri-Anne is the owner and face of Kei Dubb which manages her music entertainment and art/culture business management products and services through subsidiary trademarks and service marks.

As a consultant, Kerri-Anne inspires and equips performing and visual artists to quickly create a business blueprint designed to help them profit from their art without sacrificing artistic integrity. As an entertainer, she rocks stages and is known both for her unique sound and for hosting exclusive concert events.

Other passions include seeing to the development of cultural policy designed to support new creative industries business models and stimulate growth at the microeconomic and macroeconomic levels in developing Caribbean nations, long conversations over dinner and wine, and endless days at the beach.

Be sure to connect with Kerri-Anne all over social media at @keidubbnujazz.