Selling Out and Cashing In
What's the difference and why should it matter?
Our culture has long perpetuated the notion of the starving artist. As far back as 1895 when La Boheme was written, we’ve been expected to suffer for our art.
We don’t ask the same of other professions — perhaps because no one ever wrote an opera about a group of starving accountants in 19th Century Paris.
While the subliminal messaging is rife, some guilt is also at play. I suspect that because we enjoy our work and love what we do, we agree to work at rates that other professionals would never accept.
To make it even more complicated, we’ve been known to shame fellow creatives who have made some money from their art.
Our language around this is contradictory. To have a sold-out show is good, but to be a sell-out is bad.
I like how this episode of Questlove Supreme frames the difference between selling out and cashing in.
Selling out is when you bend or go against your core principles for the sake of a paycheck.
Cashing in is when someone is willing to pay you to do more of what you’re good at and love doing. You’re presented with a chance to capture some of the value that you’ve created.
Being able to distinguish between the two allows you to accept a well-paid opportunity, confident that it is furthering your vision as an artist rather than compromising it.