Life and work are generally divided into three pillars of endeavour: Business; Science & Tech; and the Arts. Within these pillars of course, there many threads. The former two pillars usually have more solid, clear-cut career routes, while the arts on the other hand, may take you in many directions, often dogged by instability and a bumpy financial ride.
However, if you have a dream to dance, sing, act, write, or creatively paint and craft…then you have a dream. And to make that dream become the kind of secure, lucrative work you seek requires a more than just the right training in your chosen sphere. You also need to bring business and science and tech to the game. You need to be realistic and savvy, with a keen understanding of how the world works.
Pointers as a guide:
- Entertainment careers are not only for a selected few – although it may seem like that – but are for anybody who can prove themselves both talented and tenacious. You are not too old, too young, too uneducated, too poor, too short, too large…or any number of excuses people who yearn for the arts terrorise themselves with at every opportunity.
- All the famous and successful today were once where you are now – just starting out and anxious about their futures. Face your fear, go through it, build strength every time you step out of your comfort zone – because you have chosen a career that will make you do just that all the time.
- Find a mentor – someone who will help you through your concerns or any feelings of failure before you even try your luck. Mentors are there to bolster, inspire and support.
- Be prepared to hear ‘no’ an awful lot of the time, but it doesn’t mean anything, it simply means you power up and try the next audition, project, exhibition.
Have a business plan
- It’s probably not the first thing you think about when your eyes are full of stars, however, it should be. A great acting career starts before you get a role. While acting is a craft, it’s also a business, just like any other. Talent doesn’t matter if you don’t have a way to present and market it.
- Begin your plan with your desired brand in mind. What differentiates you from other would-be artists or actors? Being noticed is about telling your own story. Don’t try to copy other people. Consider how to best to honestly reflect your character and dreams. All branding and positioning is storytelling. Emphasize and elevate everything that makes you stand out. Nobody in the arts can afford to be shy.
- You need to know what makes your personal brand unique, so casting directors will know to call you for suitable roles. Every business plan will be individual, but it’s not a static document; it must be a living document that evolves as your career grows so you can adapt your business strategy as you go. This is a lifelong tool — one that hopefully will remain equally valuable in decades to come.
- A business plan helps you think through and clarify your goals, the steps you need to take, your unique story. Are you meeting the right people? Are you progressing? The business plan gives you something to measure against and stay accountable to yourself.
Ancillary jobs in the entertainment industry (you don’t have to be on stage)
An artist manager/agent guides every aspect of their client’s career, controls their business affairs, and should become the artist’s staunch ally. Responsibilities range from decision-making with regard to career progression, planning long-term goals, and taking a supportive role in terms of the artist’s wellbeing. Duties include negotiating contracts, handling bookings and deals, overseeing schedules and activities, and always acting with the artist’s best interests in mind. If you are organised, a great communicator, and always willing to put your client first, this could be a challenging and lucrative career.
A promoter is responsible for putting artists in front an audience. Their main responsibility is to publicise and create interest in events and performances, operating across music events, to theatre and film, and also sports. Promoters have to be savvy marketers, creative communicators, and exceptional networkers.
Event managers plan and organise promotional, business, and social events. They are responsible for finding and booking venues, liaising with suppliers, managing budgets, and generally making sure everything runs smoothly. This is a very hands-on job and requires exceptional attention to detail, advanced negotiation skills, problem-solving experience, and marketing and business expertise. This is a career where truly, time is of the essence.
Artist & Repertoire Assistant
An A&R Assistant is an entry-level position in the music industry – and while responsible for administrative tasks, they often attend gigs to help scout new talent, develop and maintain relationships directly with artists, review demo submissions, and act as liaison with the record label or artist agent. If you are well-rounded in music, are great at dealing with different personalities, have an instinct for marketable talent, this could take your career in the right direction in a dynamic industry.
Public Relations Consultant
A PR Consultant in the entertainment industry is similar to a promotor, and helps to establish a favourable image of an artist. They have to deal with press releases, media communications, constant requests for information, and often have to coach their clients in the correct way of communicating with the public. You’ll need good writing skills, a knowledge of marketing, and some sound event management experience.