In the Art Marketing Minute Podcast, you’ll learn how to sell your art, how to market your paintings, and everything else you need to know in order to have a successful art career. Each episode answers questions from artists by host Eric Rhoads, author of “Make More Money Selling Your Art,” publisher of several art magazines and newsletters, and author of

In this Art Marketing Minute, Eric Rhoads explains what it means to “pay to play” and why you should avoid the practice; and the benefits of having an art agent and how to find one.

Listen to the Art Marketing Minute Podcast: Episode 25 >>>

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What questions do you have about selling your art? Email Eric today at [email protected] (include your name and where you’re from) to hear your question answered on an upcoming Art Marketing Minute Podcast.

FULL TRANSCRIPT of the Art Marketing Minute:
DISCLAIMER: The following is the output of a transcription from an audio recording of the Art Marketing Minute. Although the transcription is mostly correct, in some cases it is slightly inaccurate due to the recording and/or software transcription.

This is the Art Marketing Minute with Eric Rhoads, author of the Amazon best selling book, “Make More Money Selling Your Art.” In the marketing minute we answer your questions to help your art career brought to you by, the place to go to learn more about marketing. Now, here’s your host, arts magazine publisher, Eric Rhoads.

Eric Rhoads
In the marketing minute I try to answer your questions you can submit them by email, [email protected]. We’ve been getting a lot of them lately. Thank you for that. Here’s a question from Olivia in Jacksonville, Florida. Who asks, Can you You address pay to play? I’ve heard you mention it, but I’m not really sure exactly what it is. And is it something that could help me get my name out there more? Well, the term comes from a long, long time ago back in the 1950s. There was a practice in the music industry called payola. The record companies would pay DJs to put their songs on the radio. And of course, if they became hits, people would, you know, spend millions of dollars buying those records. So it turned out to be highly illegal and the government clamp down on it. And a lot of people went to jail, including a very famous DJ and there was also another very famous TV host who almost went to jail, but he escaped at that was Dick Clark. anyway. It’s now called pay to play and it happens in other industries. And anyway, it ended up being highly illegal. In the radio industry well pay to play you’re referring to is a little different. It’s not illegal, but some say it’s immoral or unethical. For instance, let’s say that you get a call from someone, and they say, I’m going to give you a story in my magazine, all you have to do is buy an ad. Well, that makes it a lot easier to sell ads. But and people do this all the time. The problem is, it’s not disclosed to the readers. And the readers often assume that you were selected because you deserved to be featured or selected. The problem lies in the fact that many times featured artists have the money but they don’t have the talent. So that means a lot of times, you get stories on artists who are really not deserving of a story, and that kind of deceives the reader. So eventually, the readers catch on to this, the magazine loses credibility and it just kind of backfires. now I own two art magazines, and I own a couple magazines in the radio and TV industry. We have a company wide policy, we refuse to do pay for play, though, it hurts because we do lose some ads to it. We want to be highly ethical. And so we will, you know, give press to our advertisers sometimes, but we won’t say buy an ad and get a story. That’s just not what we do. And we think it’s a deceptive practice. That’s why we don’t do it. And so we don’t want our readers to distrust us. We want our readers to trust us and we think it also can have legal implications. There was a proposed case I don’t think it ever went to court but a proposed case where a magazine had highlighted in artists who had paid them but they did not disclose that the the article had been paid for. And sometimes, you know, you’ll see an article and it says that the top advertorial well they didn’t do that. And most of them don’t do that. Well. The collector was someone who bought Based on recommendations of art magazines and he assumed that this artist was being recommended he wasn’t really somebody who collected it for the love of the art. So anyway, there was a pending case i don’t think it ever went anywhere but you know, there are people who buy based on articles thinking that something might grow in value, but the bigger issue for you as an artist is when people find out it feels a little sleazy a little slippery if people find out that you had an article, you know, let’s say you you send this article out to all your your list and your friends and your collectors and say look at me I had an article on on me in this magazine, and then they find out Well, you didn’t really get that article on your on your own you paid for it. I mean, on your merit, and it just makes you look a little bit slippery or dirty. And people always find out everything. you know our policy. See as everything you do needs to be willing to be put on the cover of The New York Times, because you want to make sure that you’re being totally upfront and ethical. So I just think that pay for play in the, and the idea of getting publicity is probably something that I would discourage. Now, I got to be totally frank with you. I don’t like it also, because, you know, we have competitors who do it. And that does take business away from time to time. But I quite frankly, I hear from collectors all the time who tell me, you know, I started to distrust this or that magazine because they do it. And quite frankly, to my knowledge, there’s only our magazines and one other that don’t do pay for play, and we refuse to do it because we don’t want to be dirty. We don’t want the artist to look dirty. We don’t want anybody to feel dirty. Your reputation as an artist is golden. You have to keep it golden. And though you know, we all desperately want publicity and we all desperately want to be noticed. There are things that you You need to be doing to make sure that you get it and deserve it. So we won’t do it in Plein Air or Fine Art connoisseur magazines. Anyway, there’s also a thing called pay for play in the gallery business. And that’s probably what you’re referring to, but it’s the same kind of thing. They’ll call you. And I hear from artists all the time, I got a call from New York, they want to do a show of my artwork in New York, and they only want several thousand dollars to do it. Well, these are galleries that are basically saying pay us and we’re going to give you wall space, we’re going to give you a show, and we will send a notice out to all of our collectors and you’ll have a New York show. I have not heard very many positive things about that. Now if there is somebody legitimate out there doing it, that’s doing it well, maybe but it kind of it kind of comes down to the same thing. Once people find out that you’re doing it that you paid for it, it feels dirty. That’s a lot different than going and renting a space. You know, you can do a pop up gallery, rent a space, promote it yourself. That’s a whole lot different. So pay for play in galleries I you know really really high quality good galleries My opinion is that they don’t ever take pay for play because they want the trust of their collectors and, and by the way you want to be in a place that’s going to get you in front of the right people, not just a bunch of people who are pretending to show up at a show to get a free drink and never going to buy your artwork. I have not heard artists tell me that in a pay for play gallery that they’ve really been successful selling artwork there. I’m sure there are examples of people who have but you know, the most important thing is learn how to generate publicity. Learn how to get stories. I talked a lot about this in my book, learn how to do these things properly. Don’t try to take shortcuts. Some areas you can take shortcuts but you don’t want to shortcut anything that makes you feel like you’re trying to game the system or trying to to be sleazy that sleazy isn’t good. So just be a little bit careful. You don’t want to do anything that hurts your credibility because people always find everything out. There are no secrets, especially in today’s world. It’s real, real sensitive, just strive to be the best you can be. Our next question comes from Samuel in Mystic, Connecticut, beautiful area. Samuel says, I know it’s common to work with galleries. But I’m curious how do I find an agent rather than a gallery to represent my art? And what is the value of an agent? What’s the benefit of one over the other? Well, finding an agent is quite frankly, the best way to do it is to ask around, I would talk to gallery owners and say which agents do you like dealing with which ones are effective which are successful, which are not? I talked to artists that have agents and do the same thing. You know, you can Google it, but you may or may not find out the quality. You always want to check out the quality by getting references. You know, I think that part of the problem Samuel is that the people who are already in galleries of the people most likely to get an agent, and they’re the ones who don’t necessarily need one. Now, I’m not saying agents are bad thing, agents are actually a good thing. And there’s tons of great agents out there. And there’s probably a few that are not so great. But the reason you want one is that they can help you make more money. Typically, an agent gets 10% of everything you sell, so they have incentive to get your prices up and to help you sell more and they’re going to get you into galleries that are going to sell the best. An agent plays a valuable role. And having one is a really good thing at the right time in your career, helping you bring success, but again, they’re really looking for people who are already successful and try to make them more successful try to get their prices up. So a good agent will find you a gallery they’ll find you buyers, they’ll give you good advice. They might get you into better galleries that you can’t get into on your own, and they will help you get those prices up typically, and help you build a collector base. And that’s good. And the advice is often fabulous in your career, they also can manage your career, and oftentimes your marketing. But if I were an agent, and I’ve had dozens of offers to pay me to be agents for people, I, I declined them because I stopped what I do. But I would only want artists I knew would sell would be easy for me to sell and artists who generate a lot of money. Let me give you an example. Let’s say you have an agent, and you’re selling your paintings for $2,000. While the gallery gets 50% of that at $1,000, you get $1,000. The agent gets 10% of what you get. So the agent gets $100 of that thousand dollars. So let’s say you sell 30 paintings a year. The agent only makes $3,000 on you, that’s 30 times that hundred dollars. commission quite frankly, it’s not worth it. But if they can get your prices to $20,000 now they’re going to make $30,000 on you. Now it’s worth it especially they have 10 artists, they’re going to make a lot of money real money. And of course good agents will get the price up. So agents clearly want people who are easier to sell. People who are well known, have big names, are desirable and easy to get into galleries. Now you have agents who will spot someone who has exceptional ability and maybe they’re newer and unknown and they will try to get you in because they really believe in you. So there are some of those but it’s riskier because their reputations on the line if they go in there and they say I’ve got this hot new artist and then you don’t sell they aren’t going to get into the gallery with the next hot artist is easily so they’re going to be really careful. And also remember all the hard work is done up front. You know an agent gets you into a gallery and you stay in that gallery for 10 years. You’re paying The agent 10% of every dollar that you make for that entire 10 years or 20 years or 30 years, and it’s worth it. But you might get to the point where you’re thinking, why am I paying them Now? What are they doing for me? Well, they did all the work up front for you. And you’ve got to respect that and think about it. But it’s really hard to write those checks at, you know, when you’ve been in a gallery for 10 years, and you’re thinking, Well, what are they doing for me now? Well, hopefully they’re doing things like getting you shows and giving you good advice. And that’s good. So that’s, that’s kind of the story on agents. Now, quite frankly, you can work extra hard and get into those galleries yourself, and work to raise your prices yourself. I talked a lot about that stuff in some of the things that I do, the books and videos and things So, but I like agents. I think if I were pursuing an art career, I am in one gallery. I don’t have time to produce enough paintings to pursue an art career. But if I were I would get the best agent I could get because I know they’re going to get my prices up and get me into some good galleries. Now, a reminder to you that I’m going to be teaching marketing three mornings in a row at the plein air convention this may in Denver, and also at the figurative art convention this October in Baltimore. So if you want to learn more about marketing, and there’s a lot of other resources available to you. Anyway, that’s the marketing minute. I hope it’s been helpful.

Well, this has been the art marketing minute with me. Eric Rhoads. My goal in life is to eliminate the idea of the starving artists to help your dreams actually come true. So if you want to submit questions, simply email [email protected]. And to learn more about marketing ideas, you can visit Thanks for listening.

Remember to Submit Your Question: What questions do you have about selling your art? Email Eric today at [email protected] (include your name and where you’re from) to hear your question answered on an upcoming Art Marketing Minute Podcast.