A few days ago Andy and I were interviewing Nathan Daughtrey, a musician and owner of a music publishing company. He gave a lot of great entrepreneurial advice, but one statement resonated with me. Nathan said he strives to learn as much as he can about his art. I strongly agree, because to truly know an art, one should investigate every aspect of it. This is especially important for arts entrepreneurs because each new piece of information can sharpen our thinking and refine our methods.
Artists tend to focus on the act of creating art, and I’m suggesting we broaden our scope to take a 360° view and examine the many ways art is created, distributed, marketed, sold, etc. To highlight this approach, I’ll present a series of blog posts to take a deeper dive into some of these activities.
Photo Courtesy José Faus
Two business terms came up in a conversation I had with a musician friend who is considering a different career path, and maybe even leaving the field altogether: Sunk Cost and Opportunity Cost. Sunk Costs are resources that were spent and can’t be recovered. They could be for items used in the production and distribution of art, money paid in tuition, or the human capital of thousands of hours spent honing your craft in practice rooms, art studios, or other creative spaces. An Opportunity Cost is the possible return on the spent capital had it been invested in other ways.
Why is it that some people enjoy being questioned on their decisions or positions on a topic, while others feel challenged, sometimes to the point of feeling threatened? While the latter can occur in any environment, I’ve observed it more when there’s a hierarchy between people, e.g. management/employee, teacher/student etc. Whatever the reason, these interactions frequently stifle innovation and creativity, and can affect the bottom line. Over the years I’ve watched this play out numerous times in both industry and academia.
The other day Andy and I were coaching a pair of music school graduates who contacted us with questions on how to grow a business they recently started. It soon became clear that the biggest hurdles they are facing at this time are the lack of a concise message and sales experience.
Every arts entrepreneur knows it can be helpful to have some margin of safety when getting a new venture off the ground. Margin of safety is an investing term that describes how the potential for loss is reduced when an asset is purchased at a price lower than its actual value. Because an artist’s biggest asset is human capital—the talent that creates the art, music, etc., they can avoid loss by arranging adequate resources to learn and hone their craft, which increases the value of their art and gives more time to succeed.
Having been in the music products industry, education and related fields for many years, I’ve noticed that those in the arts tend to operate in “silos.” By that I mean we tend to be so engrossed in what we do that we don’t really exchange ideas with those in other art forms. I’ve often wondered what would happen if we did, and that’s the premise behind perspective, our new blog. We created it as a way to exchange ideas with those who work, or want to work, in the arts economy. We thought perspective was a fun title for a blog about arts entrepreneurship since it’s a visual arts term for a technique used to create the illusion of three dimensions on a two-dimensional surface, as well as a word commonly used to represent a point of view.