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Art Doesn’t End at the Edge of the Canvas

Imagine you see a caged feather on a museum wall. The sign underneath says the artist is a political activist in jail.

Imagine that same caged feather again. But instead the sign says the artist is a high school kid in Florida.

Or imagine that the only way to see it is to crawl deep into a shrinking tunnel that opens into a room of mirrors, where the caged feather is suspended by a thread.

Same feather. Very different perceptions.

The way you present your art, and what people know about it, completely changes how they perceive it.

Therefore, your art doesn’t end at the edge of the canvas. Your creative decisions continue all the way to the end.

Now think of the way you create and release music:

  • You have a tiny idea for a song.
  • You flesh it out into a full song.
  • You give it layers of instruments.
  • You choose its texture when recording.
  • You come up with an album title, and the visual look of your photos and videos.

Every step so far has been a creative expansion of your original idea.

So now it’s time to put it out into the world. Do you turn off all that creativity? Just upload the song to the usual places, and announce it like everyone else?

No! Your creative process hasn’t stopped! Flaunt your artistic freedoms, and have some fun with it!

  • the way you communicate with the world
  • how you make your music available
  • the stories you tell about your music and yourself

These are all the continuation of your creation.

Marketing is the final extension of your art.

Art Doesn’t End at the Edge of the Canvas was originally published on January 22, 2018 at We are grateful to Derek Sivers for his permission to re-post this article in its entirety. Join the discussion at

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I’ve been a musician, producer, circus performer, entrepreneur, TED speaker, and book publisher. I started CDBaby and HostBaby long ago. My short audio/book about it tells you everything I learned while starting, growing, and selling the business.

INTJ, minimalist, solitary socialite, and a very slow thinker. I love finding a different point of view. California native. I now live in New Zealand and Singapore.

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