HBR Speaks Artist?
I didn’t expect to find gig economy advice for artists in this article from Harvard Business Review (HBR). It’s true that HBR focuses a lot more on the employed world, where most of the jobs still exist. However, with the increasing outsourcing of work to independent contractors, it’s up to the worker to structure her situation in the best way possible.
McKinsey found that knowledge-intensive industries and creative occupations are the largest and fastest-growing segments of the freelance economy.
Produce or Perish
The brutal reality of Produce or Perish makes sense. I very much agree with one of the main points of this section that “sustaining productivity is a constant struggle.” Even when I am productive, I don’t have the security that comes with a pre-determined paycheck. Freedom to do your job your own way comes with this very large downside. Even when you land a good contract, that’s no guarantee you’ll land the next one. “There’s no arriving. That’s a myth.”
Even the most successful, well-established people we interviewed still worry about money and reputation and sometimes feel that their identity is at stake.
The Four Connections
The thesis of the article is that all four of the following connections must be created and sustained by the independent worker to survive.
- Place – Even for work that could be done anywhere, or any number of places, one place tends to work best. For me, when I need to practice the piano, the church sanctuary works perfectly. At home, the piano and the television are in the same room. When I’m tired, practicing isn’t the choice I make.
- Routines – Even though work can be done at any time, it turns out that self-imposing a practical schedule works best. When it’s practicing the piano or organ, I always attach it to times I will already be at church. I don’t call it a day (or night) until the work gets done.
- Purpose – This digs a bit more into interests and motivations. I try to accept work or pursue projects that connect deeply with my long-term goals, over just trying to make money.
- People – This is one of the hardest for me. It’s really necessary to build a community with those in my profession, but it turns out that most of these folks are also extremely busy and self-focused.
I highly recommend downloading this article, whether or not you have an annual subscription with HBR. You get a few articles free per month – make this one of your choices! I only scratched the surface of the article; I’m sure that you’ll find additional insights and inspiration.