By Dave McGurgan
This March 2014 interview with Prince caught our attention because the enigmatic artist and entertainer rarely gave up information about himself. In this candid conversation with Arsenio Hall, Prince shares several interesting insights that for us, relate to our approach to marketing, creativity and what it means to be an artist.
>> On relationships
“The first person to contact me when I came back to late night was this man, to congratulate me and to say he will be here, save me a night. Thank you, dude, you’ve always been a good friend.” – Arsenio Hall
What it means: This small interaction speaks volumes about the importance of relationships and relationship building. Prince had no obligation to call Arsenio and congratulate him on his new gig, let alone offer to appear on his show and in a gesture of kindness, support his friend’s new work endeavor.
Our take: Relationships are one of the most valuable things you can spend your time developing. Sound relationships last for years, if not for life, and continue to grow and produce new opportunities. These relationships often help lay the foundations of successful businesses as well help individuals in their professional lives. That’s why at Four Dog Creative, we spend so much time building relationships, networking and sharing knowledge. The return on investment is often significant.
>> On committing to life as an artist
“When I was 16, I was completely broke and needed to go get a job, so I got the Yellow Pages out and I couldn’t find one thing that I wanted to do. So I decided I was going to push as hard as I could to be a musician and went at it, you know?”
What it means: Prince’s response conveys how sincerely and deeply he committed himself to pursuing a life as an artist. It also demonstrates the intense focus that is required to become an outstanding creative. Prince recognized his strengths as a musician and entertainer and doubled down on them, even though there was no guarantee of financial success. He worked extremely hard at becoming the best he could become.
And like other eclectic artists, such as Miles Davis, Prince rarely looked in the rear-view mirror; he preferred to grow and explore as an artist. Prince worked to build a life where he was able to create the art that he ultimately wanted to make, on his terms, even if it meant at times, potentially alienating fans and the record labels that released his music.
>> ON Teaching
“I think I’d want to teach in some capacity.” As much as I’d like to teach, I also like to learn.”
Our take: This is straight-up knowledge sharing. It’s one of the most powerful things that individuals and organizations can do. At Four Dog Creative, we spend a lot of time meeting with leaders from other marketing agencies to share information and insights. It leads to mutually-beneficial relationships and reinforces why we feel so strongly about collaboration over competition. It also supports lifelong learning. Along with time and money, one of the most valuable currencies is knowledge.
What it means: For brands and organizations marketing themselves online, sharing knowledge to succeed has become almost non-negotiable these days. Often when people go online, they’re looking for answers to their questions and solutions to their problems. By providing value and offering solutions, brands are building can leverage knowledge sharing to deepen relationships with their customers and audiences.
> On the Internet
“It’s a double-edged sword. A lot of artists aren’t getting paid full scale for their art. And the Internet, because of downloading and things like that, it’s kind of like a black hole and it’s hard to audit, it’s hard to get accounting. It’s not that it’s just about the money, but it’s about justice and fairness. And when people say that they love you and they respect you, but at the same time take, you know, eighty percent of your earnings, then expect you to fix your own communities. That’s the sharp part of the sword and we’re at the wrong end of it right now. Eventually, with courageous people going out there and saying something, and standing up for it, I think we’ll get some balance.”
What it means: As creatives and artists, it can sometimes be a challenge to get properly compensated for your work and art. It may also be a challenge to get others to recognize the value of the work that creatives and artists produce, even for artists whose work is widely distributed, consumed and appreciated.
Our take: As creatives and artists, we have devoted a lot of time practicing and learning our craft. And we are also continually developing our skills and refining the quality of our work. The investment of time and energy that we’ve put into our art is massive. Creativity can take years to develop and refine.
Artists and creatives need to keep reminding themselves of the sacrifices they’ve made to become good at their craft and become fluent in conveying the value proposition when they are promoting themselves and their work.