I’ve been in the New Media business for a good while now. I’ve seen a good amount of artists go from being a no-name, to being some of the most viewed individuals on the Internet. From these experiences, I’ve also seen a lot more hopeful artists fail in developing their brand via social media. While it is in my belief that there is no exact formula to “making it big” online, I do know what not to do when pursuing your goal of being a successful New Media artist. So without further adieu, here are 5 mistakes that aspiring New Media artists should avoid doing.
1. Feeling the need to purchase expensive production equipment
One of the biggest things our Chief Creative Officer stresses is that having expensive production equipment never translates into quality content. You need to find a passion that you are interested in and hone it to your highest potential. The belief that having a great camera will allow you to make great movies is like an author saying he/she can write best sellers if they had a big publisher backing them up. Some great examples to support my point is YouTubers Jenna Marbles and Kingsley, whom both have managed to build MASSIVE followings in a short period of time using a traditional web-cam. In the end, the essence of quality content is how well it is presented, not how well it is captured.
2. Focusing too much on marketing over producing quality content
I can’t count the number of tweets I get from aspiring artists asking me to subscribe to their YouTube channel everyday. I am not even a big-time new media artist, so I can’t imagine what it’s like for the Twitter accounts of Ryan Higa or Ray William Johnson. When starting out, it is important to get honest critique from as many people as you can before you go full force in marketing yourself online. A product that sucks will not succeed regardless of hard you market it. So focus more on honing your craft as an artist first, before you sell yourself. In the end, if you are good, people will find you.
Hearing stories of over-night successes in social media can easily mislead your beliefs on the time it will take for you to succeed. While there are a few exceptions here and there, the general belief you should take in is that it will take a good amount of time until you see success. If you read up on our first interview with MysteryGuitarMan, you will see all the hard times he went through before he saw an inkling of success.
4. Not taking in early criticism and adjusting your content when results are not seen
The comment box can be contain some of the cruelest insults you’ve ever seen. Regardless of how exaggerated negative comments can be, there is always some underlying good constructive criticism to help you improve. No matter how good of an artist you think you are, its the audience that ultimately decides whether they think your content is good or not. While I am not suggesting to produce content JUST for the audience, I am urging you to really pay attention to all the feedback you are getting online and be open to change for the sake of developing yourself as an artist.
Obviously, regardless of how strongly you believe what you are doing is for the sake of art, you need money to stay afloat. While it is important to continually find ways to generate income, don’t let your desire to “get rich quick” cloud your creative talent to produce great content. I think Justin Timberlake’s portrayal of Sean Parker in “The Social Network” said it best when he answered Eduardo Saverin’s question on whether Facebook should start advertising, “Don’t bring your chips down now, you never want to end a good party at 11.”
If you haven’t noticed already, there is the same underlying message that each of these points stress. Before you worry constantly about promoting and getting your content out to the Internet, focus on developing and improving yourself as an artist. In the end (at least in my opinion), the underlying reason most successful artists produce content is not to generate revenue, they do it simply because they love it.