ARTISTS: 8 Important Tips to stay on top of your Game

No one has ever set out to achieve mediocrity. Succeeding and staying on top of your game are equally important in the creative industry. With success, hard work is required but sometimes all we need to do is to work smart!

By Israel Sebenzo

To make it in the industry, talent alone is never enough. If you try to succeed, you might just try too hard and fail. Success is guaranteed when you utilise a set of skills, thought processes and values and these are some of them:

  1. WORK SMART

I cannot overemphasise the importance of working smart. Work a lot yes, but on the right things that will actually move your craft and brand forward. Work hard on the things that will help you meet your set-out objectives and goals as a creative. This also calls for patience and commitment in understanding that a lot of hard work goes in before returns can be realised. 

Winky D _ Pic _ Plot Mhako
  1. CREATE VALUE OUTSIDE YOUR TALENT

Becoming a multi-dimensional creative through learning new skills is equally important in succeeding. There is a great deal to be benefited from learning skills such as knowing how to negotiate, communicating effectively and thinking strategically.

Zivanai Masango

As you work with different experts in different fields, make it a habit to always learn from them and trust your acquired knowledge will come in handy. 

  1. TAKE RISKS

If you don’t embrace risk taking, you might as well forget about success. Nothing great has ever come from comfort zones. Leave you comfort zone!

Freeman & Gemma Griffiths _ pic zash craft

Don’t be afraid to try new ideas.

Risks can be very uncomfortable and controversial, but the more calculated they are, the more likely they are to take you to greater heights in your career. This however does not mean going into business blindly and then expecting great results. Take calculated risks.

  1. EFFECTIVE COMMUNICATION AND NETWORKING

Communication skills are critical in the industry, effective ones at that. The whole business is hinged around people that need to be effectively communicated to/with frequently. Once the communication is defective, the end goal is compromised. If you are not a good communicator naturally, seek help and improve on this shortcoming.

You must confidently champion your ideas and products for them to be meaningful to the next person.

  1. WORKING WELL UNDER PRESSURE

I have often heard people exclaiming how well they work under pressure; the question here is do all these people realise what this really means?

Stay calm in situations of high stress. 

Jah Prayzah

The nature of the industry is such that the ability to multitask is a must. As a creative, you will need to be able to work on several projects at a go. Time management in the business goes a long way, if you manage your time well, you will be able to avoid stress situations. Working with other creatives who are different from you, who think and do things differently will create a lot of tension.

To be successful in the industry, you will then need to be able to move projects forward without letting feelings of being overwhelmed get the best of you.

  1. ALWAYS SEE THE BIGGER PICTURE

The industry comes with its fair share of opportunities and challenges. The biggest challenge perhaps is having to put in most of the work for a long time with no benefits in sight.

Garry Mapanzure

It is at these points that your vision should pull through. If your vision is not clear enough, you will stray from your objectives and at the end of the day lose focus of your set out goals. Always aim to align your actions with the desired end goal. This is a quick and effective way of achieving the goal. Remain steadfast in your vision; never be distracted by the small picture. Always see the bigger picture!

  1. COMPETITIVE DRIVE

It does not necessarily have to be a competition with other players in the industry; you can alternatively get yourself an accountability partner you will be checking in with at certain intervals to give you that push to get things done and avoid procrastinating.

Create a culture of healthy competition with others and this will propel you to make significant progress.

Always be vigilant not to be consumed into unhealthy competition that is very counter-productive. Also, be careful not to lose your authenticity in the process.

Tocky Vibes

Compete but stay in your lane!

  1. DON’T BURN YOUR BRIDGES

Lastly but definitely not least, never ever burn your bridges. Teamwork goes a long way in ensuring success; no creative has ever reached high levels of success alone. Relations will be built as you work with different experts and as a result, loyalty will be expected from both parties, they will be expected to be loyal to you and likewise, it will be expected of you. Inevitably, as relations are built, there will be some fall outs.

ShaSha

As this happens, never write off people, instead look for amicable ways to come up with solutions that will maintain relations and this will take you far as you may never know who you will need tomorrow.

The key is strategy. Be strategic and purposeful about how you work and this will yield results and guaranteed success for you. 

Israel Sebenzo is a Singer, Songwriter and Artist & Repertoire (A&R) Executive.

UNDERSTANDING COPYRIGHT : Zimbabwe

There seems to be blurred lines where Copyright is concerned. We often read of cases where creatives are suing each other over Copyright issues and this is barely a fraction of the cases we get to hear about. Are these cases of people that are genuinely not knowledgeable about the laws or its all gambling with the hopes of getting away with infringing another’s Copyrights? Whatever the case is, there is still a lot that needs to be learnt on to avoid these and other issues.

Israel Sebenzo _ Singer, Songwriter and Artist & Repertoire (A&R) Executive.

  1. What is Copyright?

The need to understand Copyright should be anchored in a clear understanding of what it really is.

In simpler terms, Copyrighting is a process used to protect works from theft. Without Copyright, our intellectual property as creatives would be vulnerable.

Through Copyright laws, we are protected from the reproduction, copying publication, performance, public broadcast, communication to the public and adaptation of our works.

  1. What is protected under Copyright?

In Zimbabwe, through The Copyright and Neighbouring Rights Act [Chapter 26:05], any creative work is instantly protected upon creation and this protection extends to cover literary, musical, artistic, audio-visuals, sound recordings and broadcast works. The Act however does not protect ideas, procedures, systems, methods of operation, concepts and discoveries among a plethora of other things and I imagine this is where some of the misunderstandings might be stemming from.

Since Copyrights are legal and binding, they, just like any other piece of legislation have terms and conditions to them.  Perhaps, one of the most important pieces to note is the timeframe of copyright protection. With the Zimbabwean Act, most works are protected for 50 years from the date of creation. With global music laws, copyright laws stand up to 70 years after the death of the owner and heirs gain the licenses of the works of the deceased.

As some parts of the worlds are under COVID-19 induced restrictions, creatives find themselves with a lot of time on their hands and naturally, they are led to experimenting and creating more content.

One such way creatives have been creating, particularly in music, is through song covers. Covers have further blurred copyright lines as people are often excited to see their favourite songs being covered by up and coming artists but what is constantly overlooked is seeking permission to cover a song from the publishers so as to avoid infringing with their physical record (mechanical license) and the composition (synch license) copyrights.

As these laws vary from one region to the next and from one creative sector to the other, they are all however underpinned by the same principle and it is of utmost importance to seek more information and get familiar with those laws that apply in the sector you are a player in.

Remember, nothing is worth going through the daunting experiences of a law suit, always do the right thing!

BREAKING INTO THE creative INDUSTRY: THE ESSENTIALS

Creative Industry Insights by Israel Sebenzo

In the different aspects of life, we are often gripped by a fear, a fear of failure, when we are about to take a leap into the unknown. Overcoming this fear is usually that crucial step towards the realisation of whatever we will be pursuing. In the creative sector likewise, disregarding this fear and actually taking that first step is exactly what is needed if you are looking at breaking into the industry.

Artwork by Lomedy Mhako

Breaking into the creative industry is a process, however not a standard one as there are many ways one can go about it. Drawing from my personal experiences, these are some of the tips that worked for me and some of my allies in the industry:

  1. MASTER YOUR CRAFT

All the successful creatives we look up to today have spent a great deal of time investing in their craft. Perfecting your work before presenting it to the next person is imperative. If possible, hire a talent coach, study and learn from those that came before you, experiment, get professional feedback and practice, practice, practice!

Trust me; you won’t go wrong with investing in your craft!

  1. MINDSET

Approaching the industry with the correct mindset is crucial. You need to believe in yourself first before anyone else can believe in you. Stay motivated always despite all the turbulence you may encounter along the way. No doubt, it’s a rough industry but what’s worse is not pursuing your passion and giving up your dreams because of fear. Optimism is a survival tool you will definitely need. If you start with undying optimism, you will be more resistant against the neglect you may feel when first starting out.

Image by Colin Behrens from Pixabay
  1. UNDERSTAND WHAT MATTERS

The creative industry deals and is heavily dependent on intellectual property. With such importance, having a fair knowledge of copyright laws that apply to your region is imperative to avoid cases of your career crashing before it even takes off. Respect other people’s work and the laws are here to make sure your work is protected too.

  1. MARKET YOURSELF

As a creative, you need to be actively involved in the marketing and promotion of your content. Technology has done away with some gatekeepers and made it easier for us to put out our material out there. Despite the downside of technology, a topic for another day, a number of mediums are available at our finger tips and it’s up to us how we use them for our benefit. In promoting yourself, it is extremely important to build networks with fellow creatives, your value lies in your network.

  1. BE WARY WHO YOU TAKE ADVICE FROM

As people, we tend to seek advice from those who have been remarkably successful, a perfectly natural human tendency. What we overlook in this process is that the best advice always comes from those who have failed and are painfully aware of their mistakes. Family and friends are great but they are often too biased to give proper guidance and advice. Professionals on the other hand are your best bet. They give more constructive guidance and can help you set more realistic goals and expectations. 

Remember, these tips are not limited; there is a whole lot more you can do to carve your name in the industry and what worked for me may not necessarily work for you. After all, this is creativity, there is no set out formula or a one size fits all answer!

This article is part of a series on Creative Industry Insights by Israel Sebenzo that we will feature:

Israel Sebenzo


Singer, Songwriter and Artist & Repertoire (A&R) Executive.