Creative Business Wrap – April 2023

Days getting a little chillier? What a great excuse to seek out sunnier climes. Having just visited the beautiful Sunshine Coast, I can confirm it’s the perfect tonic for autumn. My collaborators Merryn Carter, Ann Hinchliffe and I have been working on audience development strategies for a range of arts organisations in that neck of the woods. As the Olympics is heading to Queensland in 2032, it’s an opportunity to think long term about how to build a civic reputation for creativity and enhance the experience of visitors and residents. Thanks to Sunshine Coast Council for the chance to work on this.

Meanwhile, a warm (geddit?) welcome to our new subscribers. Let us know what content is useful to your business and what you would like to see more of in this newsletter. 

Music upbeat in NSW

Given the opener to this newsletter, you probably won’t be surprised that I’ve been thinking a lot about the links between culture and tourism lately. In NSW, the new government’s arts minister, John Graham, also holds the tourism portfolio. In this interview for SMH, he talks about tourism becoming “an arts and culture story”, with the promise of a new cultural policy for NSW by year’s end. You can probably lay bets on live music being a bit part of that policy and any tourism plans being hatched, because Graham is a vocal supporter of the local music scene (check out his Insta account to see what I mean).

This feeds into a general optimism within the NSW music industry that the policies of the new Labor government will not only revitalize the local scene but also resonate across the country. In the lead up to the NSW election, new Premier Chris Minns tweeted a cool picture of himself playing the guitar, and promising to bring back live music, establish music development agency Sound NSW and invest $103M in the music industry. Priorities for the new government are financially supporting upgrading of venues including soundproofing, ventilation video screen technology and funding business cases for permanent outdoor festival and concert infrastructure. Let’s hope we see all this come to fruition – and that our new music loving government shows other creative sectors some love too. 

Useful tips for AI prompts 

I’ve read dozens of blog posts about using AI to boost productivity, looking for some useful hacks but finding most of them predictably focus on using Chat GPT to write your blog posts. Another repetitive theme is that AI won’t take your job but someone who knows how to use it, perhaps a “prompt engineer” will. One of the more useful articles gives detailed examples of how to use specific prompts and abbreviations in Midjourney, a tool for generating artwork. It recommends imagining that you are giving a brief to a processional writer to get a tailored response from Chat GPT including information on the format, style, intended audience and word count, plus some specific requirements such as “no jargon”.

But why stop at just text and art? Other AI tools to dabble in include Decktopus to make your next slide deck, Sembly to take minutes for your next meeting,  Rose to visualise data and Tripnotes to plan your next holiday.

Bamboozled by all this AI talk? Enjoy this cartoon by the marketoonist.

Why Barbie’s Selfie Generator is selling her movie

Barbie the movie will be released in July (if that sounds more worrying than intriguing, the talk is that Greta Gerwig’s directorial take on the iconic Mattel toy won’t be uncritical) and the marketing campaign is already in full swing. The Barbie Selfie Generator proving to be hugely popular. With a couple of clicks, fans can create a personalised Barbie image with either Ken or Barbie, add customised text and share it on the socials.

I’m not a Barbie girl myself (oh go on, click on that link to find our why that 90s hit is not in the movie. It ends in a lawsuit where “the parties are advised to chill”) but I was interested in this SmartCompany article which explains why the selfie generator is so popular. It appeals to fans of all ages, leverages personalization, creativity and diversity and the movie cast have also been interacting the generated memes, so there’s the glow of reflected fame. The marketing campaign and the movie itself are aimed at millennial parents rather than the children, tapping into nostalgia rather than pester power. I suppose at least some of those millennial parents must be reading SmartCompany.

Playing the corporate training game 

Gamifying corporate training can bring results according to this article in Harvard Business Review. KPMG developed a training program called Globerunner to enhance employees’ knowledge of the firm’s products and services to identify business opportunities better. Employees designed a character and completed challenges to earn travel points and unlock new levels, with participation being optional and open-ended.

Analysis showed that the training fees collected by participating offices increased by more than 25%, clients by up to 16%, and opportunities from new clients rose by 22%. The more that employees played Globerunner, the more likely they were to improve performance in their jobs. Results were not instant, taking up to 6 months to gain traction. I know a couple of local game developers have tried their hand at this, but gamification for corporate customers is still largely untapped in Australia. Perhaps the forthcoming Digital Games Tax Offset will prompt a boom in this market?

Three creative business resources to consider

1.    Creative hubs have the potential to revitalise unused spaces and create networks of creative workers, but it can be tricky managing the logistical, legal and financial issues involved. This resource from Arts Law contains fact sheets and template documents as well as advice on governance and criteria for selecting participants.

2.    A trademark can be a critical asset for a business but only 4% of small businesses in Australia have one. This site explains what a trademark is, the benefits of having one, how to check and apply for one.   

3.    Owned and operated by publishers Hal Leonard, Arrange Me is a platform designed to enable songwriters, composers, and arrangers to sell their arrangements of popular songs, public domain works, and original compositions. Users upload their work and get paid for each one sold on Sheet Music Plus, Sheet Music Direct and Noteflight marketplace. Arrange Me organises the copyright payments, has a simple reporting interface and provides useful marketing tips. If you are already arranging music, there are opportunities to monetise your work here with few barriers to entry.

Things to do this month

Some timely steps to take this month to help grow your business.

  • The last quarter of the financial year is often a busy one. What needs to be in place to capitalise on this? What do you need to focus on to reach target? Take some time to put some thought into how to make the most of the final stretch.
  • Think about your advisory needs. Who are your key advisers that add value to your business. How often are you meeting with them? An advisory board can be a useful way to stay accountable and get regular input from a panel of experts.
  • Winter is coming. What’s your health & wellbeing program for staff like? Flu shots? Fitness incentives? Best to involve staff in the design of the program. Detailed advice in this publication by Comcare.