Make Art Not Just Content

An Analysis of The Artist Known As Prince

I want to share a philosophy that has significantly shaped my approach to music creation and marketing—a mantra that resonates deeply with the ethos of one of the most iconic musicians ever lived and one of my all-time favourites, Prince. Embracing the “Make Art Not Content” philosophy in music marketing can transform the way artists and brands resonate with their audience in the digital landscape.

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Prince’s unparalleled creativity and prolific output have always stood as a beacon of artistic integrity for me. His remarkable ability to deliver hit after hit, without ever compromising the essence of his music, is nothing short of inspirational. He wasn’t just churning out tracks; he was crafting legacies that would stand the test of time. Adopting this art-first focus has profoundly influenced my perspective on the digital landscape.

The Essence of Artistry in The Digital Age

Today, there’s an undeniable urge to constantly churn out content. I’ve done this to my clients both businesses, agencies, and artists alike. And since 2023 I’ve done this for my personal brand to get my SEO up and running.

It’s like being in a never-ending race for visibility, for relevance. Yet, it’s in this whirlwind that Prince’s approach brings a moment of clarity. He never aimed for content for the sake of it. Every note, every lyric was a piece of art, designed to resonate, to endure.

This critical distinction—creating art that leaves an indelible mark on the soul versus content that merely aims to grab fleeting attention—sets truly memorable musicians apart. It’s a poignant lesson on the value of depth over frequency, of lasting impact over momentary visibility.

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Quality and Quantity of Content

Remember, it’s not about quality versus quantity, it’s having both. We need top-notch quality and quantity to refine our art and achieve mastery through the 10,000-hour rule. Our goal is to produce high-volume work and maintain high quality in everything we do.

For us, whether we’re marketers, business owners, musicians, or producers, this philosophy serves as a vital reminder.

It’s easy to fall into the rhythm of producing content because that’s what we believe the digital algorithm favours. But at what expense? If our creations don’t resonate on a deeper level, are we genuinely creating anything meaningful, or are we just contributing to the cacophony?

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Lesson One: Work Fast and Fearlessly

Prince’s approach to content creation was nothing short of revolutionary. He didn’t merely produce music; he crafted enduring legacies at a pace that few could match.

Susan Rogers, who witnessed his creative process firsthand, shared insights into his extraordinary productivity, revealing that Prince could conceive, record, and mix a song a day for years.

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Write Down Your Ideas

Imagine the genius it takes to walk into the studio with nothing but lyrics scribbled on hotel stationery and walk out with a fully realised track—songs like “Kiss” and “Sign o’ the Times” were birthed this way.

This wasn’t about rushing through the creative process; it was about embracing the moment of inspiration with both hands and not letting go until the piece was complete.

Prince’s methodology underscores the importance of working with a sense of urgency but without fear.

The relentless pace Prince maintained in creating music serves as a powerful lesson for music marketing professionals on the importance of productivity balanced with artistic integrity.

Speed and Urgency In Creating Content

The notion of renting a studio, the financial and time pressures, and the expectation to deliver didn’t stifle his creativity. Instead, they fueled it.

It’s said that he preferred working with women because they brought ‘zero friction’ to the process, embodying the speed he aspired to in his work. I work with people that bring  ‘zero friction’ to the process.

You Have To Master Your Craft

His ability to play all the parts, sing lead and backing vocals, and then mix everything in a day is a stark reminder of what’s possible when we shed our inhibitions and work with conviction.

Prince’s work ethic was driven by a constant flow of creativity, likened to a funnel through which songs poured out relentlessly.

This level of productivity wasn’t just about talent; it was about a disciplined approach to art creation, a willingness to capture the essence of the moment in its raw, unfiltered form.

Lesson Two: Become a Finisher

Finish Your Content

The ethos of becoming a finisher, something Prince exemplified with unparalleled finesse, reveals the profound impact of seeing projects through to their conclusion.

Observing Prince’s prolific output, one can’t help but be inspired by his dedication to not just initiating, but fully realising his creative visions.

Peggy McCreary’s insights into Prince’s work ethic, witnessing firsthand the birth of monumental hits like “When Doves Cry” in a matter of days, highlight a commitment to completion that few artists manage to sustain.

Prince’s ability to work at such a pace, producing high-quality music rapidly, underscores the symbiotic relationship between speed and precision in the creative process.

As a music marketing strategist, I’ve learned the value of being a finisher from Prince, ensuring that projects not only start with a spark but also reach completion and distribution.

Be Careful of Little Details That Paralyse The Content Creation

What’s particularly striking about Prince’s approach was his capacity to make decisive creative decisions, trusting his instincts to guide each project to completion.

This decisiveness, coupled with an unyielding dedication to his art, enabled him to produce an extensive catalogue of work without succumbing to the paralysis often induced by the pursuit of perfection.

It’s this aspect of Prince’s methodology that resonates deeply with me because the digital landscape can dilute the focus and dissipate creative energies.

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Just Finish It, Press Publish, and Move On

This relentless pursuit of finishing, of pushing through the creative journey until the piece reaches its audience, is a lesson in resilience and focus. 

For creators like us, striving to leave our mark in the digital age, adopting a finisher’s mindset means embracing the discipline to follow through on our creative impulses, ensuring that our visions are not just started but fully realised and shared with the world.

Prince showed us that to be a finisher is to respect the creative process and to honour our ideas by bringing them to fruition.

Lesson Three: Perfect Content is a Myth

The pursuit of perfection, while seemingly noble, often becomes a creative straitjacket, constricting the flow of genuine artistry.

Prince’s approach to music creation vividly illustrates that embracing imperfections is not just about accepting flaws; it’s about recognising the beauty and authenticity they bring to the art.

The Content’s Version 1 Can Be Good Enough

Prince, in his genius, understood that the quest for perfection could stifle creativity. He famously worked with a sense of urgency and spontaneity, often choosing first takes over meticulously polished, overthought renditions.

This philosophy allowed him to capture the raw emotion and immediacy of the moment, elements that are sometimes lost in the endless tweaking and adjusting in search of an unattainable ideal.

Striving for perfection can often lead to stagnation, a lesson I’ve integrated into my strategy by focusing on authenticity and connection over flawlessness.

Reflecting on this, it’s clear that Prince valued the essence of expression over the illusion of perfection. This mindset is particularly liberating in the digital age, where the polished veneer of content often overshadows the authenticity of the message.

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Be Genuine In Content Creation

Prince’s method, embracing the initial emotion and energy of a piece, even if it meant retaining what some might consider flaws, demonstrates a profound understanding of art’s true purpose.

It’s a lesson that encourages us, as creators, to focus on the heart of what we’re trying to convey, to trust our instincts, and to understand that the imperfections in our work often make it more relatable, and more human.

When I am editing a creative piece whether it is a blog, a copy, or music, I sometimes leave the flaws in, because my flaws make me human, it also brings my flawed emotions to the surface of my work.

Having said this – when I am building an Ad campaign on Google, Facebook, or Spotify, there is NO room for flaws and mistakes because I am giving platforms instructions on what to do. The human flaw can work on creative endeavours but not analytic not tech processes.

Make Art That Resonates

Now back to the article. Adopting this perspective shifts how we approach our creative endeavours. Instead of being bogged down by the weight of perfection, we can find freedom in the fluidity of our creative expressions.

This doesn’t mean we forsake quality or craftsmanship; rather, we redefine what success looks like.

It’s about striking a balance between striving for excellence and recognising that, at its core, art is an expression of the human experience—imperfect, transient, and beautiful in its rawness.

Embracing this, we can unlock a more authentic, more impactful way of connecting with our audience, making art that resonates deeply.

Lesson Four: Make Art and Content Every Day

The ethos of making art every day, something Prince lived by, is a self-requirement to achieve mastery in one’s craft. His relentless work ethic was not just about quantity; it was a ritual, a daily devotion to creativity that ensured his artistry continued to evolve and resonate.

Prince’s routine was legendary, embodying the principle that the act of creation is as vital as the end product. This discipline of daily art-making wasn’t merely about honing skills; it was about sustaining the creative flow, keeping the channels open and responsive to new ideas and inspirations.

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Live and Breathe The Art of Content Creation

Prince’s approach to creativity was akin to breathing—essential and ceaseless. His prolific output, as evidenced by the sheer volume of work stored in his vault, underscores a career built on the foundation of daily practice.

The idea of creating music every day, exploring new sounds, and experimenting with different genres, was integral to his identity as an artist.

Daily creation fueled his innovative spirit and allowed him to traverse musical landscapes with unparalleled ease and agility. For Prince, making art every day was not just a habit but a way of life, a means to continuously push the boundaries of his creative expression.

Daily Creation Offers a Powerful Blueprint

Adopting this philosophy of daily creation offers a powerful blueprint for any artist looking to deepen their craft and leave a lasting impact.

It’s a reminder that creativity thrives on regular engagement, and that mastery emerges not from sporadic bursts of inspiration but from the consistent, disciplined practice of one’s art.

I learned this from practising Aikido for 30 years. I also applied this when I started digital marketing in 2012. I was obsessed with being one of the best digital marketers in Australia. The only way to be good at something is to be consistent in practising it.

This approach demystifies the creative process, emphasising that the path to artistic achievement is paved with daily efforts, to show up for one’s art regardless of the circumstances. It’s about committing to create every day, immersing oneself in the process of art-making, and finding joy and fulfilment in the act of creation itself.

Lesson Five: Prioritise Rest and Rejuvenation

Amidst the whirlwind of Prince’s creative fervour, an often-overlooked aspect of his process was his understanding of the importance of rest and rejuvenation. Despite the legendary tales of his around-the-clock work sessions, Prince was also a proponent of ensuring that his mind and body had periods of rest.

Balance The Intense With Rest

This balance between intense creative output and necessary downtime was crucial in sustaining his prolific career over the decades. It’s a lesson that resonates deeply with me, highlighting the fact that true creativity doesn’t just stem from constant action but also moments of pause and reflection.

Prince’s routine, including the famous anecdote of having a bed installed in the studio, underlines the need for an environment that accommodates both the vigour of creation and the quiet of rest. I too work in the bedroom, but when I close my laptop, it is time to switch off or sleep.

Prioritising rest and rejuvenation is as crucial in music marketing as it is in artistic creation, ensuring that creativity and productivity are sustainable in the long term.

Embracing this lesson in the super fast-paced digital environment is more relevant than ever. The pressure to continuously produce can often lead to burnout, stifling the very creativity it seeks to stimulate.

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Listen To Gary Vaynerchuk’s Advice With A Grain of Salt

Prince’s approach serves as a reminder that our best work often emerges from a place of balance. Prioritising rest and rejuvenation amidst our creative pursuits is not an indulgence but a necessity.

For too long I was bad at this – as in really bad. I listened to Gary Vaynerchuk’s advice on work and hustle. Although it got me where I am now (Thanks Gary V), it also caused me my health and relationships. If I could speak to my younger self, I would drum up the idea that one needs to rest and sleep.

I now acknowledge that our ability to generate ideas, to connect with our art on a deeper level, and to maintain our passion over the long haul, is profoundly influenced by our willingness to rest.

This holistic approach to creativity, valuing both the periods of intense work and those of quiet recuperation, is something I strive to embody in my own life and work.

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Lesson Six: Develop a Content Vault Mentality

The concept of a “Vault Mentality” transcends mere archiving; it’s about cultivating a mindset geared towards legacy and longevity, something Prince masterfully demonstrated throughout his career.

His vault wasn’t just a physical space but a metaphor for the meticulous care he took in preserving his creative output.

Treat Each Piece Of Content As Individual Art That Can Be Used Later

This practice of saving every recording, and every piece of work, irrespective of its immediate use, speaks volumes about the importance of valuing our creative endeavours as pieces of a larger mosaic of our legacy.

Susan Rogers, who played a pivotal role in organising Prince’s vast collection, remarked on the sheer volume of work that Prince produced, much of which remained unreleased during his lifetime.

This reservoir of creativity wasn’t hoarded for the sake of excess but preserved with the understanding that each piece, each project, contributes to the overarching narrative of an artist’s journey.

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My Google Drive Is a Vault Full of Content, Images, Videos, and Copy

Embracing a Vault Mentality in my work involves more than just backing up files—it’s about recognising the value of every creative spark, every project, as a potential cornerstone of my legacy. It encourages me to produce, to explore, and save diligently, knowing that the worth of creative pieces often transcends their moment of conception.

This mentality shifts the focus from immediate gratification to a broader vision of one’s career, emphasising the importance of each contribution as a brick to the pavement that we walk on in our artistic journey. 

It’s a reminder to treat every project, every idea, with respect and consideration, acknowledging that today’s experiments may well become tomorrow’s masterpieces.

Applying “Make Art Not Content” to Your Creative Process

Incorporating the “Make Art Not Content” philosophy into our creative processes demands a deliberate shift towards authenticity and depth. Setting authentic goals is the cornerstone of this approach.

It’s about defining what success looks like beyond the metrics of social media likes or views, focusing instead on the impact and connection your work fosters with your audience.

Know Yourself and Your Brand

Embracing your unique voice is crucial; it’s your signature, your distinction in a world awash with duplication.

Prince, throughout his career, exemplified this by never conforming to the trends of his time. Instead, he charted his course, creating music that was unmistakably his.

His willingness to experiment and express himself fully, from the flamboyant to the profound, encourages us to delve deep into our creative souls to find and express our true voices.

If you need help discovering your brand’s personality, I wrote an article on brand archetypes that can help you. Have a read start there, after all, if you don’t know yourself and your brand then your success will be limited and eventually hit a ceiling.

Social Media Is a Microphone

Social media and digital platforms, while offering unprecedented opportunities for visibility, also present a challenge to maintaining artistic integrity.

It’s easy to get caught up in the content treadmill, producing work that fits the algorithm rather than our artistic vision. Here, Prince’s vault mentality offers valuable insight.

By creating something that is more than just about paying the bills, we can navigate these platforms without compromising our integrity. It’s about using social media as a tool for connection and expression, rather than just validation.

Prioritising depth and frequency ensures that each piece we share adds value, resonates on a deeper level, and contributes to a body of work we’re proud of.

In doing so, we not only honour our creative spirits but also forge more meaningful connections with our audience, staying true to the essence of making art, not just content.

About The Author

Crom Salvatera, an established figure in the marketing industry, shares his expertise as both a consultant and freelancer, fueled by a deep-seated passion for the fusion of music and digital marketing. With extensive experience in social media, strategic marketing, and engaging diverse audiences, Crom has played a pivotal role in guiding both brands and musicians across various industries to reach and surpass their digital marketing objectives.

Follow or connect with Crom Salvatera on LinkedIn.