I’ve found that the majority of people don’t like rules (especially rules they had no part in making). This default human instinct started when you were 3 years old, and realised the sheer injustice of not being able to eat sweets for dinner. This then continued into your youth, when parental rules and legal rules combined forces to become the ultimate super-hero (or, anti-hero, for all you rebels): The Rule Book Juggernaut. When you finally become an adult, guess what – there are already so many publicly acknowledged rules, laws, regulations and norms that the thought of creating any more rules leaves you reaching for some aspirin. As a result, Creatives everywhere often find themselves frustrated when attempting to be innovative and feel that rules and regulations are a hindrance rather than assistance to their craft.
However, the above is arguably the wrong way of viewing the world of ‘rules and regulations’. Rules and regulations (putting aside all the stereotypical jokes), is in fact a magic ingredient that will open many doors for artists and musicians wanting a leg up on their peers and their competition. Rules and regulations, when understood and used to your benefit, are just. Absolutely. Fantastically. Awesome.
How? Let’s take it bit by bit.
COPYRIGHT – see “Who cares about Copyright? Ahem…well….” article on the absolutely necessity of understanding your rights to your own creations. Because unless you are careful and aware of your rights, your own, beautiful, hard earned creative baby, produced through sweat, blood, toil and tears, could be snatched from beneath you. Worse, someone else could start making money from your work, building a bigger brand and gaining a much bigger following. Sound unjust? That’s right. Unless you are careful. And you can only be careful if you understand your rights (rules and regulations *high five*).
LICENSING - how awesome would it be if you could earn money without doing anything? Yes, we all know that one should work, graft, contribute etc. But really, if you could be earning money whilst you’re on a globe-trotting holiday spree and not doing any work, you’d take that right? Exactly. Licensing, in its most basic form, is when you give someone else a right to use something you created, and you get paid for it without doing a thing. Warning – the pivotal moment that determines whether this amazing situation comes into fruition is in your negotiation and licensing agreement with that someone. If you’ve pushed for key terms in your favour and which protect your rights, you could indeed be globe-trotting and making use of that selfie stick you got for Christmas, whilst that someone else does the work and pays you. Genius (rules and regulations *high five*)!
CONTRACTS – justice, the law, courts, judges – they don’t just exist in the criminal law world of Breaking Bad, Prison Break, espionage and thriller movies. They exist in the “you signed on this paper” world too, and it’s an incredibly huge world. Understanding, negotiating and getting signature on a document containing key rules to your benefit could be the difference between an up and coming artist struggling to eat and losing creative motivation, and an up and coming artist who’s able to make a 5 year plan on the basis of all the wonderful opportunities coming in whilst spending all his time creating in his studio. Amazing (rules and regulations *high five*)!
CENSORSHIP AND RESALE – depending on how provocative your art and methods are, you could be sitting on a creative goldmine. Only that goldmine is next door across the border. And, depending on how much your artwork is valued at, could you be paid each time that piece is resold? So many things to explore (rules and regulations *high five*)!
Obviously, the above is a tiny snapshot of a very intricate, detailed and complex world of rules and regulations. However, the point it this: rules and regulations, when used to your advantage, are an absolutely crucial vehicle to facilitate your success, progress and development. Those who recognise this are already one step ahead of everyone else. Have you also recognised this :)?