Bottom Line: Stop Making Your Art About You

As an artist, it’s easy to get caught up in the work we do. More painting. More writing. More songs. All to fill the craving we have deep inside to create something beautiful. The real problem is when we start to lose our why and begin to think our art is all about us.

music marketing, music business, creative, art, create your art, darrenacooper

As I walked across the parking lot, I could hear the familiar voice of my friend, Ben Cannon, echoing between the buildings. The radio broadcast had begun. I was already excited, but I could feel the anticipation growing with each step I took. Who would be there? How would the event be received? Would we really be able to make a difference?

On February 6th, I found myself walking into Beneflint, a relief effort for those in Flint, Michigan, who were dealing with a massive water crisis. I heard about the event when a local musician and friend, Kyle Perkon, posted a call out video to the Indy Music Scene.

A few days later Kyle and his band, Veseria, began to update us on the amazing response they’d received from our local music scene. It started with the idea of putting on a small show with all proceeds going directly to help those suffering in Flint. What they didn’t expect was a response so great it would turn into an all day festival filled with music, live art, and a passionate uprising from our community.

I heard they had more bands respond than they had spots or time for. How cool is that?! Donations also flooded in from the local business community and a silent auction was soon added to the mix. As I watched via social media I was blown away at the positive response from our small community. I was inspired and challenged all at the same time.

In the days that followed Beneflint, I was forced to ponder how my art was making an impact on the world around me. Was I encouraging others to rally around something more important than my art? Was I concerned more about the number of fans I had instead of making a difference in the world around me? I was quickly reminded of the importance artists play in the community, and I wondered if I was doing my part.

As I processed what Beneflint did for Flint, Michigan, as well as our community, there were five lessons I took away:

  1. Your art has to be bigger than you.

I believe that when art simply becomes a practice to fulfill our own creative desires, we are missing a large portion of why we create. The drive inside of us to bring to life what wasn’t there before is an important gift, and one that can’t be used to promote only our name.

Do we benefit from creating, yes, but that can’t be the end of our story. Our art has to be bigger than us in order to truly create good in the world. Beneflint was an example of that.

  1. Don’t be afraid to rally for a topic you believe in.

As artists, we want as many people as possible to pay attention to what we are doing. But it’s easy to become shallow and stand for nothing. If we are passionate about a certain topic, we need to rally around it and invite others to join us. Beneflint made me feel connected, united, and part of something bigger than me…because I was.

Together, we stood for something bigger than just one of us alone. So as you push your art forward, don’t be afraid to rally for a topic that you believe in, even if it’s not as huge as a water crisis.

  1. Planning makes a difference.

After sitting in a meeting with the Beneflint team, I was truly impressed at how much thought put into everything. They worked tirelessly making sure every detail was perfect. They worked through challenges with passion (and a little arguing) in effort to do the most good with what was before them.

It made me wonder how much time and energy I had wasted because I didn’t create a plan and stick to it. Watching this team work showed me that planning is necessary for success.

  1. It takes a team to be successful.

It’s easy to watch the news reports, hear the stories, and elevate Kyle and all of his hard work. But even Kyle would tell you, it took a team.

The same goes for our art. The success of Beneflint taught me you can’t do it alone. If you’re going to win at creating your art, surround yourself with good people.

  1. Art is a catalyst that brings people together.

When your art is bigger than you; when you’re not afraid to rally around a topic; when you create a plan; and when you gather a team, this fifth lesson comes into focus.

Art is a catalyst that can bring people together and change lives in the process. It’s easy to label creatives as lazy, unorganized people. But the power we hold can’t be wasted. We can bring people together and influence our world for the better.

With great power comes great responsibility. #createyourart Click To Tweet

With great power comes great responsibility. So what are you doing with your power?

If I can encourage you in any way, make sure you take your art seriously. Rise up under the mantle it places on you and leave this world better than you found it. Create your best art.

The world needs you…so let’s go!!

Question: Are you influencing the world for the better or are you allowing your art to simply benefit you and your personal creative desires? 


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