Effective Communication & Collaboration

by Brian O’Regan

 

Effective collaboration takes time, patience, and effort – but it’s worth it. 

Collaboration allows us to achieve things that we could not achieve on our own, and it enables all parties involved to operate at a higher level. Effective collaboration needs effective communication, and although it can take time to build, it’s always worth the effort.

 

Listen first, and listen with a genuine desire to understand. Then speak. 

Listening is more important than speaking when it comes to effective collaboration, so listen first and then speak. Listen with a desire to understand what the other person is trying to say and try to see things from their perspective first.

 

Approach collaborative conversations with an “abundance mentality”. Try to be as open, honest, and generous as possible. 

Having an “abundance mentality” means believing that there are plenty of opportunities for everyone. When we begin a collaborative relationship in this way, it opens up far more possibilities than a narrower scope would allow. While maintaining a sense of generosity, also be careful to protect your most valuable assets, particularly in the early stages of a new collaboration.

 

Know what you’re bringing to the table, know what you need them to bring to the table, and make sure that you’re both at the same table. 

Effective collaborations are built on strong foundations of mutual alignment and complementary skills, knowledge and resources. Make sure your shared goals and values are aligned, and make sure that what you bring to the relationship complements what the other brings.

 

Build trust by showing trust and by demonstrating trustworthiness.  

Trust is the glue that holds strong collaborative relationships together. We can build reciprocal trust by showing that we trust the other person, and by demonstrating trustworthiness ourselves. Trust takes a long time to build, and it can be shattered in seconds, so treat it with great care.

 

Aim for “synergy” in your relationships, and “win/win” in your agreements.  

Synergy is the highest form of collaboration, and it’s where the collaboration itself brings ideas and results that could not have been achieved by both parties working independently.

When an agreement is reached, make sure it’s a balanced “win/win” agreement, where both parties achieve what they set out to achieve. If this isn’t possible, you can also decide not to collaborate.

 

Ensure you are communicating with clarity, confidence, and intent. 

When you communicate, make sure you’re doing it effectively. Be clear, concise and confident, but not forceful. Before you speak, make sure you know what you’re trying to say. Ensure your non-verbal communication (such as body language) doesn’t contradict what you’re saying verbally.

 

See the value in the different opinions of others.

If someone has a different opinion to yours, or if they’ve done something differently to how you wanted it to be done, don’t criticize them – try to see it as an opportunity to see things from a different perspective. Don’t assume that you’re right. Welcome the opportunity to expand your own knowledge and awareness of different approaches.

 

Deal with disagreements carefully and empathetically. 

Don’t let a disagreement turn into an argument. Find common ground again and go back to basics if you need to. Figure out whether the disagreement is related to your shared vision/goals, your values, or your methods. Take the time to understand their perspective, and don’t make impulsive decisions. If you’ve made a mistake, admit it quickly and honestly.

 

If no solution can be found, carefully consider your options with the other collaborative partners. 

If a collaboration has reached a point where it’s just not working anymore, or if no solution can be found for a particular difference or disagreement, then you’ll need to carefully assess your options depending on the circumstances. This is also where effective communication will be vitally important.

If you’re ending an official collaboration, try to end it collaboratively. You can both agree to disagree. This process may benefit from some external facilitation from a third party but try to resolve it between yourselves first.

Looking for a Producer

Juley-Ann Collins + special guests:
Promenade’s Kath Gorman & Ciara O’Mahoney

 

1. A producer is someone who coordinates, facilitates, and develops.

Generally, the producer oversees budget and people management; like the chef pulling together the ingredients for success.

What makes a good producer? It’s multi-faceted with relationship-building at the centre.

Fundraising is part of the producer’s job. They need to be able to think creatively about different funding sources which also comes down to relationship building.

Usually, the producer works behind the scenes and is supporting artists with their creative vision; helping artists realise their vision.

 

2. Define the right producer for you.

Before you begin, consider: what are you looking for in a producer? Do you want a sounding board? A mentor? Someone to help with marketing?

We all have different skill sets so keep that in mind when you’re looking for someone to work with. Make sure your producer has the specific skills your project needs.

 

3. Define what you want a producer to help you with.

Do you want someone to take on your big project or just a small task? Do you want help developing an idea or applying for funding? It’s important to allocate time to do this important preliminary work.

 

4. There must be trust and openness in your relationship.

Do you have the same interests? The same styles? Has this producer seen your work? Do they understand your style?

This person is going to be your ally and advocate. You need to trust and understand each other and be able to thrash things out.

A producer needs to be excited by the project and the people. Find a producer who’s passionate about what you do so that it’s an easy sell.

If you have a shared vision for the work, it’s much easier to connect.

 

5. Look to your network to find a producer.

This is especially important when you work freelance. The following are examples of strong resources who will represent you in your chosen artform:

• Irish Street Arts, Circus & Spectacle Network
• Theatre Forum
• Visual Arts Ireland
• Writers Guild of Ireland

It can be isolating working in the arts; we’re all here for each other. Local authorities and local arts centres are also great resources. Reach out to them. They’re willing and open people. They want the arts to flourish and grow so don’t be afraid to reach out to them.

The following companies have databases of producers for you to browse:
• Branar
• Promenade
• Field Arts
• Once Off Productions

 

6. Agree from the get-go what the fee is and what the producer will do.

Don’t let a grey area develop in your relationship. If there’s no formal contract, put the agreed timelines and fees into an email. This can change later on, but it’s important to capture and record everything so there’s no confusion. From that email you can build on conditions.

By defining and recording working terms and conditions, you show how much you value and respect the work being put in by your colleagues and partners.

Timesheets are a good idea – record the time you’re putting in, down to the quarter of an hour. This shows how long things take and makes it easier to plan.

Being clear on everyone’s expectations is important.

Contracts are a good thing. If you find them overwhelming, a letter of agreement might be easier to organise. This could capture the agreed time the producer will put in and what days they’re present in-person for. Maybe the first half of payment happens ahead of time and the rest afterwards. This can all be put into your own words and fit within a one-pager. There might be tweaks and changes as you go along; this all builds into your relationships and legitamises your work. Your colleagues and partners will always feel more comfortable around a defined plan. You don’t want vague agreements.

How to deal with failure and rejection in your career

by Brian O’Regan

 

1. You haven’t failed until you’ve quit.
Temporary setbacks are inevitable when you’re working towards something big, but unless you’ve stopped trying, then you haven’t failed. If something doesn’t work the first time (or the second or third time), try again. You haven’t failed yet.

2. Failure is something you can control.
If you can decide when you quit, then you can control when you fail. This is an empowering perspective, and it could help you get back on the proverbial horse when you fall off.

3. Rejection isn’t failure. It’s just someone else’s opinion, and you can’t control that.
Rejection is another inevitability when you’re pursuing a career in the creative sector. You can’t control rejection in the same way as you can control failure. Ask for feedback, learn from any mistakes you made (you might not have made any) and try again.

4. Focus your energy on what you can control.
When something goes wrong, think about what level of control you had over the outcome with these 3 questions…
● What did I have control over?
● What was I able to influence (partly control)?
● What did I have no control over?
Next time, focus on what you can control or influence, and don’t worry about what you can’t control.

5. Don’t take it personally.
As an artist/creative practitioner, your art may be very personal and very closely linked to your sense of self-worth. If your work gets rejected by someone, try not to take it as a personal rejection. Try to separate your sense of worth from your work, even if you’ve put your heart and soul into it.

6. Know when to quit, pivot, or change your approach.
How many times should you try something? That’s up to you, but don’t keep doing the same thing over and over again expecting a different result. If something clearly isn’t working, don’t be afraid to try something different. Sometimes quitting, or choosing to fail at something, is the right decision and it can free you up to focus on something else.

7. Don’t let a fear of failure stop you from trying.
Fear of failure is one of the root causes of procrastination, and over a long period of time, it can be far more debilitating than failure or rejection itself. Fear of failure can lock you into your comfort zone, but in order to learn and grow, you need to break out of it. Sometimes we fail because we’re too far out of our comfort zone, so try and take it one step at a time.

8. Use your support network to talk about your failures and rejections if you find it helpful.
Sometimes, talking about rejections or failures can help to soften the impact, and whomever you talk to will likely have their own stories to share as well. If you’d prefer not to talk to other people about it, try writing about it in a personal journal or even on a scrap of paper. Getting it off your chest can help you feel less isolated and can help you to move on.

9. Take the time to define success and reflect on setbacks.
Before you start something, define what “success” actually looks like. When setbacks occur, take the time to reflect constructively, but don’t dwell on them for too long. Remember what success looks like, think about what level of control/influence you had over the setback, and make a plan to move on.

10. Don’t put all your eggs in one basket.
Whether you’re applying for funding, applying for jobs, or trying to find a publisher for your first book, try to always have another potential option in mind while waiting to hear about results or decisions. This may help you to deal with a rejection letter or an unsuccessful application, and could help you to move on to the next opportunity faster.

Essentials of Sync

by Brian Scally

 

1. Do your research
Start out with TV shows, films, games, and brands you like. What types of music were used in them. Find out who selected that music and try to develop a relationship with them. Pitch your own music if you have tracks that are relevant and appropriate.

2. Be specific when pitching your music
It’s OK to send unsolicited emails to agents/music supervisors, once you’re specific.
Don’t pitch more than a small selection of your music. Send a private streaming link, with options to download WAV files.
Outline what you liked on projects they’ve worked on and suggest a piece of your music that could work in a similar way, e.g., “I was blown away by the piece of music you put in that swimming pool scene, I think this track could work well in a similar spot.”
The projects a supervisor will have worked on will likely have the same artistic thread running throughout so this is an effective way of showing how relevant you are to what they’re doing.

3. Have lyrics, all metadata, and instrumental versions of your music all on the one link
Ideally you don’t want them having to ask you for any additional files or info.

4. Get in touch with up and coming directors/producers
Screen Ireland invests in films so become familiar with what they’re working on and absolutely get in touch with directors/producers re. placing your music in their works.

5. If you’re a composer, go to established film/TV composers
Ask to shadow them/support them. Perhaps you could compose small pieces for them as you start out.

Selling Your Art Online

Sheelah Moloney’s Tips

1. There’s a strong art-buying market out there.
Buyers are much more comfortable buying online than ever before and they like buying directly from the artist.

2. By selling your work online, you have direct links to buyers.
This is really valuable for future sales opportunities.

3. Always ask the buyer to send you a picture of your work in their space.
This makes for a great piece of content you can share on your own digital channels.

4. Consider your web skills, time, and budget.
This will inform your website decision.
If you’re quite web savvy, the open source option wordpress.org could be for you.
(Not to be confused with the blogging site wordpress.com)
Out of the box options for the less web savvy include: Wix, Squarespace, Weebly, Showit. Squarespace gives you lot of support as opposed to WordPress which requires you to do a lot yourself.
Squarespace issue a monthly fee which includes hosting and domain as well as a strong level of maintenance. Start on a basic plan because you can always go up or add something in.

There are also e-commerce options including:
– Print on demand sites e.g., redbubble
– ETSY
– Online Art Galleries e.g., Artsy or Saatchi

If you have the budget but not as much time or web skills, hiring a dedicated web person may be the best option for you.
Regularly review your site to make sure it’s working.

5. Do put the prices on your work on the website.
According to Artsy Collector Insights Report 2023, no visible price is one of the biggest hindrances for customers when buying art online.

6. Put your bio, CV, and artist’s statement on your site.
Your artist’s statement tells the story of your work. To help you write this, try thinking of three things you would tell people about your work. Once you’ve finished this, show a friend and see if it resonates with them.
Check in on your bio and CV every six months to ensure they’re up to date.

7. Use your own voice in your web copy.
Keep it simple. Users don’t have time to decipher complex paragraphs.

8. Give people a peek behind the scenes.
Perhaps a timelapse of you creating work. This is great social media or mailing list/blog content.

9. Set up a mailing list.
Share news and updates in a monthly newsletter or blog post.
Direct mails are effective. Share what’s inspiring you.

10. 80% of your mailing list/social media content should not be about sales.
Prioritise what your Followers will be interested in. Help them understand you and your process. This will help them connect with your work.

11. A person has to give you express consent to be added to your mailing list.
You can’t just grab somebody’s email address and add it to the mailing list.
You must be GDPR compliant.

12. Plan out your annual system for selling your work.
Consider how much work you produce a year. How much does packing, shipping, and sales processing cost?
Define what are the most efficient pieces to process and what’s most appealing to your audience. Perhaps you end up selling your smaller pieces online because they’re cheaper to ship.

13. When people buy art, it’s personal and it’s a luxury.
Invest in strong packaging to ensure your work gets to your buyer safely and that it looks neat. Make sure edges are clear, there are no smudges or dents on frames; these often can get damaged in storage.
Include a handwritten note to make the piece extra special when the customer opens the package.

14. Have a functional plan for local and international customers.
Ensure sensible lead in times. Give yourself plenty of time to package, label, and send out rather than being under pressure to move on a sale when it comes in.

15. Review your process regularly.
Be sure that it generates income for you. If it’s not, change it. Don’t assume that the process is working all the time. Test it regularly.

16. Make sure the collection of work on sale is fresh.
You don’t want the same work sitting on your site for months and months on end. Don’t put everything up at once. Perhaps release 3-4 new pieces every month.

17. Ask a friend to visit your website as a user.
Sometimes you can get so close to a design so it’s hard to see where the holes are. A new pair of eyes can help with this.

18. Don’t sell via direct message on Instagram.
Nobody’s protected there; neither you nor the buyer are protected by the rules of e-commerce.

19. Ensure you know what the rules and regulations are.
Know consumer law and what applies to you. Have a returns policy. consumerlawready.eu is a good resource for consumer law information.

20. If you run a site, you need a privacy policy and cookies policy.
There are templates out there available. Uphold the regulation from the very beginning. Employing someone to write these policies for you is strongly recommended.

21. Consider these e-commerce options for your site:
– Woo commerce
– Shopify
– Paypal or Stripe are good payment gateways.

22. Have a stock taking plan.
Keep track of what was for sale, what sold, and who purchased it.

23. Have a system to get reviews and contact details.

24. Consider the below hierarchy.
– Important people: your social media followers
– VIPs: people on your mailing list. These people have gone a step further.
– V,VIPs: People who visit your site to buy your product. They’ll either buy again or will likely recommend you. Customers who part with their hard-earned money are important to you. Serve them well from the very beginning and they’ll serve you.

25. Selling to the UK is a more complicated process.
You need to define whether you or the buyer are responsible for the duty and UK VAT. Make who pays that very clear from the start.

You’ll need a Taric code; this is the same for art and antiques.
You’ll need a EROI number; this is something you receive when you register
with revenue.ie or ros.

26. Always sign your work.
Artists tend to forget this. You might have to get it sent back to sign it which is hassle you can do without.

27. You can have sold artwork on your website.
This proves that people are buying your work, just don’t have too many. No more than 2-3 pieces marked SOLD at any one time.

28. Never ship anything you haven’t received payment on.
Don’t fall for somebody saying they’ll pay cash on delivery or in installments.
Make sure the money is in the bank for 24 hours before shipping. There are scammers out there.

29. Celebrate art sales.
They are difficult and worth celebrating when they happen.

Sheelah Moloney is Director of https://2020curates.com/

Empowering women in the music industry

1. It’s not in your head, the music industry has not initially been set up to see women succeed.

If you accept that, it will help you to shape the way you approach your own career and how you support other women.

There are professions that support women succeeding, for example within the education system. In contrast, our music industry traditionally has structural challenges for women in place and it is taking a concerted effort to change that.

 

2. Collaboration is an imperative element in empowering women in music.

Consider engaging with these communities and resources: SheSaidSo
She is the Music, We’ve Only Just Begun, Music Leaders Network, Why Not Her?, Women in Ctrl. The Keychange pledge is also available for organizations to sign up to.

 

3. We can find it hard to be our own champions but championing yourself is rewarding and necessary.

Similarly, amplify the success stories and voices of the women around you.

 

4. Know your commercial worth. People should be paid fairly.

Not being paid fairly happens more to women than men. The gender pay gap is not an issue faced by the music industry alone. Generally, women ask for less money when freelancing. Take a look, do your research and competitively ask for more.

Stick to your boundaries. Define your own framework and work within it. Define your values and ensure they’re protected. You need to feel like you can manage. Define what kind of environment you want to work in.

When negotiating payment, feel empowered to ask, “what’s your offer?”- don’t be afraid to build your case for more if you are familiar with industry salary trends. Do your research and consider, is that rate aligned with my boundaries and values?

 

5. Be transparent and open when talking to women in the industry about money.

Within safe spaces and with people that you trust, talk about pay, talk about salaries, talk about rates.

 

6. Don’t let your actions within this sector be dominated by the feeling of, “I’m so lucky to have this job”.

That can lead to exploitation. The person hiring you is lucky to have someone who works hard and is as diligent as you.

Tips for Approaching Media

by Dwayne Woods

 

Read the publication or listen to the radio show you’re pitching to.

Know the sections of the publication or show. Know why you want to be in that section. Think about the readers or listeners of that publication. Can you give them something new?

Knowing your story and the audience will help the journalist/producer tell your story.

 

Consider the turnaround times/deadlines journalists/producers work to.

Allow a three month window before your album releases.

If the journalist or producer puts out a weekly or daily publication, this will impact the turnaround time they need. A weekly features journalist usually works with an editor so they’d need extra time to work on their piece. A week’s notice is not enough notice in this case.

Never contact a daily features journalist in the afternoon. Their deadlines won’t give them space to talk to you.

 

Try initiating contact with producers or journalists over social media.

If you don’t have an email address, try messaging producers or journalists over social media. Ask them for an email address so that you can send your press release, pitch, and assets in full.

 

Be short and snappy.

Remember you’re writing to someone who tells stories for a living, don’t be too fluffy in your language. If there’s a shorter way of articulating something, go the shorter route.

 

Your pitch accompanies your press release.

Be tailored and targeted in your pitch – this is the email body copy. Don’t send the same pitch to every producer or journalist. You should know what the recipient likes and doesn’t like. Your knowledge of their work feeds into this.

Attach your press release to that pitch email and link to media assets.

 

Don’t send attachments, link to an assets folder. 

When mailing producers or journalists, sending lots of large attachments can cause bounceback/clog up inboxes so link to a folder with your assets such as audio files, large photos.

Ensure meta data is added to files and there’s a clear filename structure. E.g. Bandname – song title.wav 

 

Photos should be high resolution 

This is especially important when pitching to a print publication. Always credit the photographer, and ensure you have their permission to use the photos.

 

Add quotes to your press release. 

Quotes, especially from prominent figures, illuminate a press release and bring a third party dimension to your story.

 

Don’t forget the local angle. 

Approach local papers or radio stations if you’re doing a gig in their area. This will make your story particularly relevant for their readers/listeners.

 

Be authentic.

This will stand to you in any interviews or in-depth features. Never try to be something you’re not and don’t try to be controversial for the sake of it. Telling your authentic story will make you memorable and set you apart.