Okay, he's very very small, but he's next to that picture of a burning house
Seth Godin talking to a room full of arts marketers at the Capacity Interactive‘s Digital Marketing Boot Camp for Arts Marketers and he, quite rightly, says that everyone in the world, but these groups in particular, needs to think about organizing groups of highly energized people instead of trying to interrupt people in the course of their lives to tell them to buy our stuff over and over again.

He’s talking about this in terms of selling stuff. The whole industry of people that pay for magazine ads are having to change from professionally interrupting people to professionally creating groups of people who like each other on twitter. They have to be a whole lot nicer. They have to try hard to be less irritating to the people who want to buy their stuff.

For the entire world, this is great, because it’s getting less and less profitable to annoy me with ads for crap I don’t need.

It’s interesting for the arts, too. Cause our audiences have always been small groups of serious fans. The marketing people are trying to create groups that are as excited about Coke as our fans are about Wagner. I’m going to go out on a limb here and say the arts people have it a little easier.

But the question I’m trying to answer is how can this stuff be useful for individual artists trying to get their art to become something that actually pays the rent.

I write opera, I make classical music, web videos, a podcast, and if I want to have an income from that, I need to get people excited about it. Those of us on the ground trying to make this stuff happen for our art are used to the idea that creating a group of hyper-excited people online is what we have to do. That’s the lesson of Kickstarter, and it’s a good one.

We start with our collaborators, then our friends and family, and if we get all these people really excited and invested in our art, we’re doing okay. If these people are really excited about it and you’ve made good art they tell their friends and their friends and you’re off to the races. That means that along with making art we need to give people a reason to tell each other about our art. (Of course, that’s a ton of work, the real prize is getting that process to be part of making art instead of a distraction).

And Seth Godin, who’s still talking to me right now, is a big famous marketing guy who’s telling people with budgets to work really hard on the same problem.

So here’s my point: maybe for the first time ever, a whole industry is desperately trying to solve the same stuff that starving artists are trying to solve. Let’s steal their brains.

If you ask me the big organizations and the arts institutions aren’t going to be ones to figure this out. It’s going to be individual artists, and the next generation of arts entrepreneurs who figure out how to make money in the 21st century that figure this stuff out.

LATE UPDATE: I just asked what Seth Godin actually thought about this. And he’s talking about Amanda Palmer being a street performer, building an audience, then saying “let’s all go get a theater it’s cold out here.” I love her too, especially this video.

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