I’m Dhruv Visvanath, and I am a Solo Percussive Acoustic Guitarist and a composer. I also work with Humour Me as their Digital Head and Creative Manager. I love music, so much so in fact I spent all of last year doing just that. Travelling, giving talks, releasing an album; it was wild. I’ve come to realize that there is a lot of potential in tying the various ideas I have, with particular brands, which makes my work here rather exciting. I wanted to take some time and let you know that in today’s world, having a creative profession can pay your bills, if you do it right.
1. Make time
The one important thing that people forget when it comes to building new ideas is the amount of time it takes. To put effort into your skills and abilities, one must always make time for their creative side. I remember watching lots of music videos on YouTube, watching Erik Mongrain hit his guitar and make melodies at the same time. I was envious, to say the least, knowing the dedication and commitment they put in to their craft. By just watching their videos, I was inspired to first, learn how to play the guitar like they do, and second, make my own music.
I’d come back from class, sit with my guitar everyday and learn as much as I could. Even if it meant I woke my mum up at night. I was determined.
People often make excuses, picking them out from a jar. “Oh I’d love to but I just don’t have the time” or “I would but It’s expensive,” “It’s a waste of time” the list goes on and on. Put your worries aside, because in all honesty your biggest investment is your time. My music first started off as a hobby, and my quest was to become a proficient guitarist. However, as time passed I realized I need to be well versed with other peripheral skills such as being able to work on a budget, marketing myself, educating myself on the various facets of music production and many other skills.
It’s hard to dive into a creative career, knowing that it may or may not work out in the end. But the skills I learnt on my own time have allowed me to be far more than just a creative person. Start building the blocks to your future career in your spare time, and who knows, it might just be the thing you wanted to do all along.
2. He shoots, he scores! (Goals, I mean)
A lot of creators tend to think of the big picture right away, becoming the star of the show, the ultimate icon. It’s very important to be pragmatic. You should in no way limit your dreams, and always shoot for the stars. But do realize that somewhere along the way, you’ll have to learn how to take small steps.
Look at how video games work. The ultimate goal of most games is to beat the final boss, the toughest bad guy. You progress through levels, learning new skills and abilities, so that you can finally win that boss battle. Now kids, video games are not real, but they do have some amazing ideas. Why don’t you try the same things with the goals you put out for yourself? Make a list of your biggest goals and break them up in to smaller mini-goals of sorts. By making smaller achievable goals, you not only feel more confident for knocking off things on the list, you also end up being that much closer to actually achieving your dreams.
I’ve always found it helpful to make a list before I finish any task, and it’s a skill I find very useful in any environment, be it on stage, or in the office. It helps me organize my time, and keep my goals in check. So don’t worry, if things seem daunting at first, just remember to make a list, write your mini goals down on paper and before you know it, you could be a leader in your field.
3. Talk, talk, talk, Network, Talk
You ever hear of the phrase “having friends in high places”? That’s what networking does for you. It enables opportunities through human connections. I cannot stress enough how important it is to network. My mum always tells me that success is impossible if you have no-one’s shoulders to stand on. It’s very important to connect with people, and have meaningful conversations. Not every person you meet is going to help you further your career. Hell, you might even end up making a few friends. Brush up on your social skills, make small talk, practice your elevator pitch. The connections you make now could last you a lifetime.
In order to network you need to be an open and outgoing person. You need to be a one who can maintain friendships but also be an individual who can depend on some for help and be the source of aid for others. Just remember that this activity closely relates to building your brand. Any brand that you want to build is you. Forget the big infrastructure, it’s not always needed when taking your first few steps into building that image. It starts with the basics, and when it comes to a brand, it starts with you. In fact, any brand you want to build, is you.
Use your networks and build a team. If you can convince someone else of your art, your talent and creativity, get them to manage you. Discuss ways in which you can develop your business together, grow your image, and build a brand out of yourself.
4. There’s no media like Social Media
Marketing can be expensive, and getting your name out there can take a lifetime of effort. But thank god for social media!
Get familiar with it. There are a bunch of networks out there. It’s best to get your hands dirty, and understand how to use each and every one of them to your advantage. People do follow content, and it’s your job to make sure you disseminate it with the right tools. You’ve got your facebook, twitter, youtube, snapchat, Instagram etc. Use them wisely, structure your posts, and cultivate good social media habits!
There are a number of websites that give you good tips on how to use social media networks well. Learn what kind of posts to make, when to post, what kind of content works best.
Today’s world revolves around an attention or perception based economy. The biggest brands, businesses or artists are those that are easily visible to you. Those trending topics you see on Facebook and Twitter put the spotlight on them, therefore driving more people to follow them. So what will you do to catch the attention of millions?
Social Media can create distances between personal interactions, but remember to maintain your personality. Write posts in the way you speak, and share those things that interest you. If you’re confused, search for clues on the internet. I found that the buffer.com blog is a very useful resource.
I can tell you from personal experience that every subscriber or follower I’ve had on my social networks hasn’t come easy. It’s hard to engage you guys! But I love sharing my music and the little things I find on the web for you guys to see.
5. The 2 P’s: Patience and Practice
Here’s my 2 cents on this topic, you cannot have one without the other.
Ta da! I’m joking.
Patience is a valuable trait. Really, thank you so much dad! You don’t become the best at your field overnight. Practice teaches you how to be patient. It teaches you how to deal with your frustration and it teaches you how to deal with the word no. I’ve been playing the guitar for more than 10 years. I went from playing many instruments, to playing metal on the electric guitar, to finally finding my feet on the acoustic guitar.
As a musician, I’ve heard the word no so many times. It’s not funny. I can honestly say that it hurts, but for every 100 people that turn you down you end up getting a few yes’ along the way. Getting impatient along the way to building your brand can lead to mistakes, and poor decisions. You have to be a little thick skinned, and calm. I tend to panic a lot, worrying about really stupid things. I feel pretty lucky to be surrounded by a supportive bunch of people. Bouncing my concerns past my buddies helps put things in to perspective, allowing me the space to be calm, and get my goals back into perspective. That’s what patience does to you.
Money. You just can’t live without it. And If you’re good at something, never do it for free. Anymore cheesy lines you think I can put here?
You’re ready to turn your creativity into a career, but how will you earn? If you’re smart, diligent and organized, you’ll follow the points you see here and build a brand out of your creative talents. Your reward for your talent should obviously lead to significant monetary gain, right?
Well, yes and no. Money is a means to an end. You shouldn’t expect people to give you money out of goodwill, and you definitely shouldn’t expect anybody to pay you for a shoddy job. Being able to earn from your creativity is the dream, and therefore it’s important to keep in mind that you are the heart and soul of your brand. Do not let money cloud your judgment in terms of the opportunities that are presented to you. Select opportunities that act as pathways to help you network better, and grow further in your field, and you’ll have opportunities to earn more. Most importantly, select avenues which allow you to express your personality and your art. I remember playing shows for free for 2 years, because I was hungry to perform and get people to notice me as an artist. It took me some time before I even got paid for a show. (See patience)
To be commercially viable takes time, and I never once compromised on my creative capabilities, which is a very important lesson that’s been reinforced here at Humour Me :)
There’s a lot to discuss when it comes to making a career in a creative field, be it music, photography, dance, or even theater. I’d like to end this on the one thing that’s been the most valuable element of my career and that is support. My family, bandmates, manager, my friends, and of course my fellow colleagues, all have an understanding of the struggles creative people have to endure. Talk to them, share your concerns, and more often than not, you’ll find that they might have a way of seeing your situations in a more positive manner. So don’t forget to give your dream career a shot, and you never know, you might become the creative star you always wanted to be.