“Critical success factors” (CSF) is a pretty simple concept, even if it might sound complicated. These are the important elements in limited number of areas that lead to satisfactory results and ensure successful competitive performance. It could be for an individual, for a unit, or for an organisation. We take this terminology from the business world and apply it in the arts field. Based on my international experience as a consultant and coach of artists, here is the short list of CSF for success in the arts:

  • Do not hesitate to put in place a new idea, an innovative project, something that has not been done before. Think outside of the box, even “without the box”. Think bold and act strong.  There is always a room for new ideas, even if at the first glance it seems that the arts market is saturated.
  • Connect your art with a human value. Your art piece or art form has to convey a core value that is near to the lives and the hearts of many people. Examples include: love, harmony, freedom, care about others, honesty, health, community, truthfulness, loyalty and others.
  • Tell a story. Clients, audiences, customers love storytelling. They are keener to buy an art product if you create a great story around it. Look for stories in the history of the city where you live, the neighbourhood, or in your own family personalities and traditions.
  • Think carefully on how you would deliver your art to the people. Art is about having someone to see it, to enjoy it, to be inspired, to learn from it, to get enthusiastic, motivated, and a better human being.
  • Cross borders, go international. Arts markets in the 21st century are proven to be global. An artistic idea usually starts locally, although it has to strive for a global coverage and leadership. Art is a beautiful thing, as it does not have limits. Many art forms do not need a language form to be understood. People from different nations can talk to one another using artistic and creative means, and this is the beauty of the art.
  • Connect your art with social goals. Artists are not isolated, they function in a society. Find out how your art form could help people in need, marginalized groups, and youngsters, unprivileged. Artists have always been the messengers of the positive ideas that make the society a better place to live.
  • Understand well and use digital tools and platforms. Artists today create both offline, as well as online. You need to become a “friend” with the new technologies and to find out what would be the most appropriate way to use them in your art process, as well as in the overall marketing strategy. The use of social networks in an efficient way is a key to reaching your right audiences.
  • Be aware of contracting. If you wish be successful, read carefully contracts with agents, representatives, arts dealers, impresarios, before signing. There are many examples of artists who are stuck for years in an unfair contract just because of their initial inability to understand the expected benefits and the possible losses stipulated in the contract.
  • Mind the copyright. Copyright royalties are an important focus of most of the business models in the arts, especially related with artpreneurs and musicpreneurs. Understanging the copyright legislation in your country is a must.
  • Learn and use foreign languages. You need to maintain a website in more than one language in order to reach a global coverage. Your communication with diverse clients will be much more efficient and less costly when not passing through translators. Even if the art itself might not need a language to be understood, you need several in order to promote it!
  • Follow up the trends. Read often the arts news, subscribe for a blog, a newsletter, bulletin, or a filtered email information about the trends in your specific art field. This will keep you updated, fresh, and ready to find out a new opportunity – market or a social one.

Here are some selected resources with useful tops on success factors for artists in diverse areas – music, theatre, design, etc.:

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