Shake Your Booty!

“You gotta shake your booty—right.” So said a friend who was trying to explain to me that it’s not enough to do good work—or even great work. In addition to doing good work you have to promote that work—in the right way. It’s not an uncommon notion: not only do we now have to build a web site, we have to promote that web site; then we have to drive traffic to that website, generally using social media. So “shaking your booty” in worlds of arts and ideas is not quite as simple as it might be on a personal level.

We sometimes think that this is a dictum that is a result of the information age. However, I recall having a discussion with one of my graduate advisors about how James Joyce in 1921 ceased to be James Joyce, artist, and became James Joyce, huckster, as he shopped Ulysses to various publishers in Europe. It took him a year. It was not a new problem for him; it took him nine years to find a publisher for Dubliners, a book of short stories.

So this is not a new problem. I suspect that if we look carefully into the history of many art works we will find the same pattern. The artist must become the salesman or marketer of his/her own work. Then once s/he has found the correct publisher or gallery or agent, the promotion effort transfers to that person or organization. But it starts—must start—with the artist, particularly the artist who is not yet “established.” This is not a problem that Stephen King has, but it is a concern for artists who have not yet arrived at a level of national or international acclaim.

The only difference is that now the problem has become more complex. It’s one thing to move from publisher to publisher or agent to agent or gallery to gallery, looking for acceptance. It’s an entirely different thing to get one’s work noticed, much less appreciated, when the internet puts the world at the fingertips of everyone, and the artist is competing for attention with all the other artists on the planet, both living and dead.

And the landscape is always changing, depending upon the demographic of your target audience, so what worked last month, will not necessarily work this month because “the world has moved on” and yesterday’s social platform is now out of date; there is a new social platform that has taken its place.

And like James Joyce, the artist of today must make that initial effort. S/he must compete—for attention if nothing else. And that means not only producing great work, but being sure that work gets noticed by someone. In order to do that, s/he must compete with all the other artists and artisans and marketers competing for that same attention. Once noticed, the artist may—through the use of the right platforms and correct presentation—become known and appreciated.

The problem is two-fold: (1) create excellent work (2) get people to notice it. So the artist must not only be an artist, but a marketer—or know someone who is. Someone has to shake the booty. And it must be in the right way on the right platform to attract the right audience. Otherwise it’s all wasted effort. Good work is simply not enough!

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Date: Sunday, 26. August 2018 23:48
Trackback: Trackback-URL Category: Audience, Presentation

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