Starting Lines and Finishing Lines
New clients would ask Derek Sivers what the average artist made from sales on his CD Baby website. They’d take the posted sales figures ($85 million) and divide them by the number of albums for sale on the site (250,000). Using this math, each album earned $340.
But Sivers points out that the average doesn’t reflect reality, and compares artists who treat the launch of their album as the starting line or the finishing line.
There are those who work hard to get their material written, recorded and produced. When they release it to the public, they celebrate that the hard work is over and wait for the profits to roll in. For them, listing the album release is the finishing line.
The other camp invests similar effort to get their material release-ready, but for these artists that work was the preparation and lead up to the real event. To them, this point is the starting line and they’re now focused on finding ways to market, promote and sell their music to people.
It’s not hard to guess how the different approaches are reflected in sales figures.
The “finishing line” group earned an average of $20 per album.
The “starting line” group earned an average of $5000 (with fifty artists earning over $100K).
Creatives who only think as far as making their art are acting as amateurs or hobbyists.
Creatives who create a plan to connect their work with the people they made it for are professionals.
Those who BEGIN their process with a vision and strategy that stretches beyond making the art to how they will share it with the world are most likely to be those who develop long term, sustainable (profitable) creative careers.
Sivers sums it up best:
“Are you at the starting or the finishing line? That’s the best predictor of how far you’ll go.”
Highly recommended: “Your Music and People: creative and considerate fame” by Derek Sivers.