Creative Business Wrap – March 2024

Sarai Mitnick writes on her blog “Making Time” about the constant challenge of balancing creative work and running a business. She uses the analogy of the Sailor and the Diver to describe two different modes of working and experiencing the world. The Sailor is goal-oriented, likes to have a plan, a map, a compass, and a lot of technical knowledge. The Diver, on the other hand, explores what is actually there, beneath the waves, without a specific agenda or task. Both modes of working are necessary to sustain a creative business. Spending time in Sailor mode gets things done, while taking the time to contemplate, explore, and refresh in Diver mode is equally important. We need both these ways of working to sustain a creative business. I hope this issue of the Creative Business Wrap is your opportunity to spend some time in diver mode. 

Why you should go to a private school but pretend you didn’t

I loved this review in Stirworld of UK-based charity Creative Mentor Network and creative agency AnalogFolk’s tongue-in-cheek book Making It In The Creative Industry: A Practical Guide; it uses sarcasm to illustrate how, in the competitive creative industries, there are very real barriers to those from diverse and lower socioeconomic backgrounds. It combines an appealing graphic style with sardonic quips and alarming statistics. For example, the proportion of people from lower socio-economic backgrounds working in the creative industry has more than halved since the 1970s, dropping from 16.4 per cent to just 7.9 per cent. On the topic of nepotism, it states that children of people who work in film and TV are 12 times more likely to also work in those fields. The solution?  “If familial nepotism isn’t an option, consider attending the same elite university as the boss”. It’s grimly funny but discomforting reading. Proceeds from sales of the book help fund a 16-week mentoring program to give support to a young person to boost their career. 

Documenting the Pandemic

I came across two interesting articles about the legacy of the pandemic. “Musicians in America during the Covid-19 Pandemic” is a documentary project organized by the Society for Ethnomusicology (SEM), consisting of online video interviews with American musicians between August and November 2020 asking about the impact of the pandemic on their art, careers, and communities. Each of the 240 videos is personal and poignant, and the themes that emerge are re-examining the significance of music in their lives and communities, their loss of employment, illness and death of community members, and new directions in the creation and presentation of music. In Shetland, nine artists have been commissioned for a COVID memorial project addressing the impact of the pandemic, which will create five memorials using music, film, installations, and a book. Poignant reflections on a tough time for the creative industries.

An internal “startup” inspires innovation

I recently learned about Keurig, a popular coffee pod brand preferred by about 45 million households in the US. While it’s not surprising that they are working on a compostable pod to reduce waste, I found their business strategy intriguing as explained in this article. The CEO invited the Research and Development team to create a dedicated group to come up with a solution. The group had access to all the company’s data and knowledge but were tasked to think of themselves as a startup in competition with the company to create a long-term solution. They were allocated seed funding to create a prototype, and when they came up with a new idea, they would create a budget and approach the company for funding, just like a startup pitching to a venture capitalist. The outcome was the launch of a new coffee machine that could use both existing “K cups” as well as the new “K rounds” of ground coffee with a permeable seaweed-based covering. This reduced the risk to the consumer because they could use up existing stocks of the K cups and choose from some of the 500 different varieties of coffee in the K cup system while trying the new K Rounds.

The changing climate of festivals.

The cancellation of the Pitch Music Festival and the Moomba Parade in Victoria due to extreme heat will be causing concern for festival organizers already dealing with the cost-of-living pressures and increases in insurance premiums. Milad Haghani in The Conversation studied news reports from 2022 and 2023 regarding 22 Australian music festivals that were cancelled or disrupted due to extreme weather. The article also analyzes growing environmental concerns around festivals, ranging from microplastics in glitter to sustainable travel options, and proposes some strategies such as incorporating carbon offsets into ticket prices. I see difficult times and many more difficult decisions ahead for festival organizers.


  • I love things that offer insights into creative business, but I also like a bit of fun, and those two things can be hard to find in the one package. Recently, I’ve been block-listening to The Rest is Entertainment, a BBC podcast with Marina Hyde and Richard Osman. From its title and its “that’s entertainment” style theme music, you’d think it was run-of-the-mill celebrity gossip stuff. Instead, it’s full of behind-the-scenes intel on the film, TV and media industries, with topics from the big picture (is Saudi money infiltrating film and TV? Is AI eating creativity?) to the niche, but fascinating (what happens to film props thrown in rivers? Do the Gogglebox cast get paid?). Addictive.
  • There are times when we all need fresh approaches for facilitating a training workshop or generating new business ideas. Ken Hudson, an Australian author and academic, has developed the Ideas Blitz, a quick and easy process to generate, enhance, and evaluate nine ideas and create an action plan within minutes. He explains it briefly in this video. Hudson has authored two books, The Ideas Generator and The Idea Accelerator, which are filled with thinking tools to find solutions to problems by either changing your perspective on the problem or changing the lens you use to view the problem.
  • Understanding financial information and dealing with financial stress are topics we often prefer to avoid, but a podcast could be a less painful way of improving your competence in this area. NSW Business Connect has launched nine short podcasts covering situations like “How to have tough conversations with creditors” and “Key indicators that your business is under financial stress”.

Things to do this month

  • Try using text generator tools to save time on routine writing tasks such as position descriptions, procedures, and instructions. Microsoft’s Copilot is built into Bing’s browser but here are 13 more.
  • Also, consider signing up for a newsletter that provides new insights. I recently came across one called  The Non-obvious newsletter that lives up to its name.