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In the world of acting, comedy, writing, and improv, one truth stands out: artists are in the business of service. Yet, it’s a realization often overlooked. If you’re an artist aiming to earn, it’s crucial to understand that your work revolves around fulfilling the needs of your audience. Let’s break down what this entails:

Understanding Consumer Needs

When creating your art, consider the following factors that influence consumer decisions:

  1. Value: How essential is your work in addressing the needs of your audience?
  2. Cost: Both tangible and intangible costs matter. Consider not just monetary expenses but also inconveniences and time investments.
  3. Availability: How does your offering compare to others in meeting the demands of your audience?
  4. Timeliness: Can you deliver within the expected timeframe?
  5. Trust: Do consumers have confidence in your ability to meet their expectations?

Reflecting on these aspects can help align your artistic endeavors with the expectations of your audience.

Lessons Learned from Experience

A poignant example comes from my time working with the Comedy Zone in Jacksonville, FL. Initially, many of us comedians were baffled by the preference for performers who stuck to safe, recycled material over those who took creative risks and pushed boundaries. We mistakenly believed that being funny was all that mattered because those were our values, not the club owners. He knew nobody was there to see the host or opening act, and it didn’t matter how funny they were; what did matter was reliability and making sure nobody got offended.

This highlights a crucial lesson: understanding that your customer isn’t necessarily the audience. It’s not always about pushing artistic boundaries; originality, or even quality. Sometimes, it’s about selling nachos.

Choosing Your Focus

Early in my career, I made the mistake of prioritizing the approval of my peers and being like those amazing artists who inspired me over catering to the preferences of my audience. However, I soon realized that success lies in finding a balance between artistic expression and audience preferences.

In a predominantly conservative environment, I had to adapt my content to appeal to a wider audience without compromising my artistic integrity. This led to the creation of successful shows tailored to the tastes of the local community.

It’s essential to recognize that while staying true to your artistic vision is important, understanding and respecting your audience’s preferences is equally vital for success.

Putting Your Passion First

Renowned music producer Rick Rubin once said, “The audience comes last.” This statement emphasizes the importance of staying true to your passion and vision.

Start by creating the art you want to see. Solve the problems you’ve encountered because chances are, others face similar challenges. Your authenticity and passion will resonate with those who share your experiences, forming the foundation of a loyal audience base.

Remember, while it’s crucial to consider your audience, never lose sight of your creative vision. Strike a balance between staying true to yourself and meeting your audience’s needs, and success will follow.

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