We conclude this snowy week with a blog post from Craig Mahoney, a man I compared to Denis Leary when I first started reading his tweets. He’s baudy and bitter, has a great sidekick in Mickey the Mutt, and will be making a guest appearance on February 27, 2010 at AsburyPop’s workshop & ProjectTwenty1 film fest at The Showroom!
I remember when Laura first started this blog, she asked if I would be nice enough to write something for it. “Sure,” I said (well, I didn’t say it. I typed it, but you get the idea), “I’d be happy to, but what in the hell should I write about?” She told me I should just write about my experience as an artist successfully using social media. Now, apparently, Ms. Gesin’s idea of “successfully using social media” is that I’ve been able to set up a twitter profile and type 140 characters without setting the computer on fire. For, as I write this, I’m a 31 (almost 32!) year old artist/entertainer with an overdrawn bank account, an estranged wife dating one of his former friends, no regular employment, and no promise of any forthcoming. In only a select few circles would it be argued that I’m “successful”.
However, in the months that I’ve been using social networking sites like facebook and twitter to promote whatever-the-hell-it-is that I do, I’ve found I’ve begun to gain a bit of a following (Should I capitalize the words “facebook” and “twitter”? The sites don’t do it themselves, but I feel that in a written context such as this I should capitalize, to denote that they are, in fact, proper nouns. Eh… fuck it. I’m not an English major. Truth be told, the only reason I have any degree at all is because of a bit of creativity on the part of my counselor after I transferred from a vo-tech school to community college. But, I digress).
No, dear readers (and fellow starving artists) I cannot tell you that I’ve utilized the burgeoning social media landscape to make myself boatloads, or even pocketloads, of money. Nope. I wish I could, but I can’t. What I have gotten, though, is the one thing that all artists and entertainers strive for. The one thing I desire even more than sex, money, or booze (and, oh baby, do I like sex, money, and booze!): I’ve gotten myself an audience.
And, ultimately, isn’t that what every artist and entertainer really wants? For somebody to notice our work, and tell us how good it is? To, in turn, notice us? To tell us how special and talented we are? Well, through the incredible 21st century, our great-grandparents-would-drop-their-monocles-and-faint-if-they-could-see-it interwebs, you can build an audience. In your lifetime. Without even having to leave your damn house. Take THAT, Emily Dickinson!*
You don’t have to be a marketing whiz or business major to know that if you can’t find an audience for your work, you’re not gonna make too much dough off of it. That’s where social networking sites such as twitter can help. I’ve been on facebook (yeah, I’m stickin’ with lowercase) for awhile. I’ve got profiles on redbubble and artbistro (man, all their logos are lowercase, aren’t they?), yet I’ve found nothing has brought me the kind of attention that I desperately (clinically, probably) crave like twitter has.
So, now, at LONG last, we come to the point of this post (aside from you avoiding that report your boss assigned you. Slacker). Yes, if you’re an artist or an entertainer you should absolutely utilize twitter, facebook, google buzz, myspace, text messages, fliers in windshields, morse code, pig latin, and smoke signals to promote what you do. Promote your gallery openings, your club dates, and your public readings. Anyway you can get the word out, you should. But, here’s the crazy thing I’ve discovered since using all these sites: One of the best ways to promote your art is to promote yourself.
And, by “yourself’ I mean YOU, not what you’ve created. You, the artist. The one who’s struggling to make something significant out of your life. The one who looks at the world a little differently, and wants to leave their mark on it. The one who has a unique voice and outlook most don’t. THAT’S what social media can help you promote, and twitter can do that better than all the others.
Now for a bit of humility: I know I’m talented. I know I can draw. I know I can paint. I know I can get behind a mic to sing or tell some jokes and have an audience eating out of my hand. That’s what I originally saw twitter as a tool for – to promote the times and places I was doing those things. Twitter, however, has become something more for me. It’s my own daily reality show broadcasting to the world 140 characters at a time. It documents the ups & downs, the thoughts & feelings, the progresses and setbacks of an artist/entertainer trying to make his way in this world. That struggle, that daily outpouring of my thoughts, is what has gained me the relatively small, yet loyal, following I have now. It’s not the fact that I’m a helluva draftsman or that I can blow the roof off the joint with a full-throated rendition of “Mack The Knife” (and, I can), it’s that people seem to genuinely enjoy the steady stream of shit pouring out of my brain and into the computer (I suspect alcohol is involved).
That, in turn, has created a larger audience for what it is I do. There are people who’ve read my writing, seen my art, and heard my songs who never would have before if not for twitter and facebook. And, it hasn’t been until just now, as I’m writing this, that I’ve appreciated the irony of the fact that more people have begun to appreciate what I do because they took an initial interest in who I am.
That’s an irony any artist can appreciate, and you know what? It may not be paying my rent or smoking me a better brand of cigar, but it’s proven to me that there are people out there who enjoy and appreciate who I am, my take on life, and the things that I do. It’s given me hard and indisputable proof of that fact, something no one can argue or take away from me.
It may not be much, but I’ll take that as success.
And, for those of you looking for something more substantial to hang your hat on: one of my facebook fans donated $20 to me through my blog this week. …YES!!! MONETARY GAIN!!! That’s a 6 inch sub & a 12 pack where I come from.
So, good luck, Cadets! And, thanks for reading. I hope you got something out of it, even if it was nothing more than a good way to pass the time.
Oh, and, if you can… be sure to tell your friends about my blog, will you?
* Emily Dickinson was a 19th century poet and is regarded today as one of the greatest female writers in U.S. history. In her lifetime, she rarely left her room, and most of her work was either unpublished or published with significant alterations. If she were coming of age now she’d have her own blog, 1/3 of her poems would be less than 140 characters, and she’d be turning down invitations to speak at Furry conventions.
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