Paying to Play

I recently received an invitation to be interviewed for an online show that focuses on helping artists in terms of their creative process and being paid for their work. It sounded like a good fit, especially since I wrote two books and host a daily podcast show that focuses on this exact subject. I’ve done this hundreds of times before so it seemed straightforward. But then, I found a catch: as part of my commitment to the show, they wanted me to promote the appearance by instructing my followers to sign up their email in order to access the show.

This wasn’t a request. It was a requirement. If I wanted to participate, I had to do this. They wanted emails, especially from the ~ 25,000 of you who subscribe to my blog and the many more from my social media channels. It was evident that they didn’t value my voice or my expertise, they wanted my platform. Ultimately, we mutually decided that it wasn’t going to work. I do not promote podcasts, media, or anyone that I don’t know and trust…and I especially don’t encourage folks to blindly sign up for email lists in exchange for content since I detest that tactic myself.

In the end, I don’t think they’ll have trouble finding 20 artists who are willing to handover their followers’ emails in hopes of getting more exposure. But I have to wonder: what kind of successful creatives do that? The kind who are willing to advance themselves by paying to play. Now, there isn’t anything inherently wrong with that, it’s just not something I partake in myself. Seth Godin has a great article on deciding how/when you should work for free. Like Seth, I believe that the best ideas win and I’m happy to freely share them on my blog without a paywall or subscription. He writes, “The more generous you are with your ideas, and the more they spread, the more likely it is your perceived value goes up.”

Two things I generally believe: if you are going to invite someone to share their ideas, to be generous by providing services to you, don’t make them pay for it, be it on a fiscal or social level. And, if you’re being invited to share with others, be aware of what the real cost is, especially if someone else is paying for it.

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