Money & Creativity

Money & Creativity

Dear Friends, 

I ran off to the lake for a couple of days with great plans to hunker down and get some work done. Truth is that I spent most of my time napping while listening to the cacophony of bird calls and the rustling of leaves. It was good to take the time to pause and process the differing messages that I’ve been receiving about MyArtist.Life, and specifically the MoneyMaker course. 

Should I be offering artists a MoneyMaker course?! Is there not a risk of skewing their creativity? Should this course not be reserved for managers?! Is there a right time for artists to learn about money?

I realized that I’ve been mistaken in thinking that everyone was familiar with the views and values that inform my work with MyArtist.Life and my purpose of empowering artists to lead their careers. 

So, for the sake of clarity, here's a recap of some core beliefs:

  1. Money is power. Ideally, financial literacy would be taught in school. So, understanding how money flows through society (through public, plural and private sectors) and through our corporations and through our households is the first step to empowerment.
  2. Business models and budgets are not hard to understand when they are explained in clear English. Demystifying the tools contributes to empowerment.
  3. Industry has profited from the “helpless, hapless artist” trope. As sincere and well-meaning individuals in the industry might be, the industry’s systems are geared to keep the power – and the money - within the hands of managers, record labels and publishers. So, dismantling a system that diminishes artists is key to empowerment.
  4. Creativity does NOT flourish when artists are anchored in poverty. An artist needs enough money to not worry about money. Unfortunately, “enough money” is an abstract term, coloured by the state of scarcity or abundance we are raised to perceive. A pragmatic attitude about money feeds empowerment.
  5. Making money does NOT corrupt creativity! The term “selling out” is misused. First off, it’s unrelated to the level of income. Some people might feel that it’s “wrong” to create art to “meet a market demand” rather than starting with the art (letting the art flow from you) and THEN finding a market for it. If you’re an artist who pines to paint large, colourful murals and you end up with an assembly line of 12-inch monochromatic square paintings because you know these will sell, you might feel a sense of regret or frustration, but this doesn’t mean you’re a sell-out. Using your talent to pay the bills may be necessary as you build your career. Making an informed choice is empowerment.
  6. Some artists will try to “game” the system using different techniques they pick up here and there – and that’s just fine! There is no single recipe for success in the music trade and everyone is experimenting with new approaches. Taking risks and testing out different ways of being an artist, without fear of being shamed, is empowerment.
  7. Having a team is helpful... It’s mostly about timing. Budding artists need to hone their craft. Emerging artists need to set their intention. MIAs (Music Industry Associations) offer plenty of support for the initial transition period from local to regional activity. Once an artist has a solid artistic concept and is ready to reach beyond your region, then a team can be useful: an agent to secure gigs, a manager to guide your strategy, a record label to finance and promote your album, etc. When an artist leads their career plan, Doing-It-Together is empowerment.

Creativity and business CAN co-exist. I don’t think artists need to be “protected” so that they can stay creative. Most artists I know can distinguish activities, understanding what falls under business and what flows from a creative space. I’ve worked this way for years, having learned ways of moving between multiple mindsets with ease.... It just takes some clarity and time to make sense of who we are, what we’re doing and why we’re doing it. 

And sometimes, it takes spending a few hours on a vintage green tweed couch in a wood cabin away from the city distractions to get back on track. 

xo Nat


Nathalie Kleinschmit

Article by Nathalie Kleinschmit

Published 09 Jun 2021