Four things worth more than money

One of the worst things you can do to an artist, other than steal their work, is ask them to work for free. Certain fields of creativity are more tokenized than valued and the idea is so widespread it can be defeating for a creative on the rise. Artist should get paid for their work. No if, ands, or buts. Creation takes time, energy, focus, diligence, skill, AND MONEY. Artist: Always set a price when you’re approached. Everyone else: Pay the artist you book.

Now that that’s out the way, I want to point out money isn’t always the most lucrative priority for an artist. At times, I have found that there are indeed things more important than money. It’s the job of the artist to determine what to prioritize when.

Leverage aka Finesse
You need to know how to leverage a non monetary situation into a scenario where you come out with a gain. That gain usually leads to money aka “the bag.” I performed for free for years (which was way too long). Running up and down states, spending my last dime to get to a gig, do my thing, and leave broker than I was the day before. In the beginning that’s what you have to do. Get your experience up, get your resume up, take what you can get, but always thinking of the bigger picture. In this game, you have to show what you’re worth before you can ask for it.

Relationships aka Networking aka It’s Who You Know
Personal Facts: The relationships I built back when I was doing way too many things for free as an upcoming creative lead to me to money in the future. My first tour wouldn’t have been possible if it wasn’t for a friend I made 4 years prior. I kept in touch with company owners I met when I was in college doing shows for free. They eventually booked me for their events off the strength of our relationship. You’ll only go as far as the people you talk to and if the people you talk to are getting money then eventually you’ll be getting money too.

Brand Awareness aka Let Em Know
Brand awareness can be worth more than money at times. Get yourself a mission statement, a website, a social media account, and tell the world you are out here for hire. How are people going to pay you if no one knows you exist? Also, if you’re an independent creative, business cards and websites are tax deductible. You’ll make your flip at the end of the year anyway. If you are good at what you do and enough people know it, the money will eventually come to you instead of you having to go to it. Word of mouth is still the best marketing tool on the planet. You’d be surprised how much a friendly reference could be worth.

Hustle aka You Don’t Hustle You Don’t Eat aka Make A Flip
One thing more important than money is the ability to make money when there is none. Wherever. Whenever. However. I can’t tell you how to do that. Every artist has their own way that works for them. All I can say is that if you’ve been broke for long enough you will figure out a way to not be broke anymore. If you don’t hustle you don’t eat.

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What are your thoughts? Is there anything else you can think of that’s worth more than money? Let’s continue this conversation on twitter, instagram, or facebook. If you want to get all my posts, exclusive content, merch, and show dates straight to your front door then you should definitely sign up for my newsletter. You’ll never miss a beat. Thank you for your time. Let’s work together!

About the author

Savon Bartley is a poet, writer, and educator with a passion for storytelling. Find out more at