I just watched Around the World in 72 Days, an American Experience DVD about journalist Nellie Bly. She is most famous for an undercover exposé in which she faked insanity to report about the conditions inside a mental hospital and for her record-breaking trip around the world. The time was the 1880′s and she had to fight for the right to be published alongside male reporters.
She taught herself the art of self promotion and constantly struggled to keep her name on the front page with strange and difficult escapades, doing things that women just didn’t do in those times. She needed to pay the bills.
When I switched off the DVD, the TV came on and there was a PBS show on Amelia Earhart in the 1920′s, smiling at the camera, climbing into airplanes in trousers and a leather jacket and generally looking very dashing. She knew how to use the media to promote her various stunts and achievements and was regularly featured in newsreels and newspapers. The novelty of a woman aviator had captured the imagination of the public.
She needed to keep her image vital so that she could pay the bills.
Seems to be a thread here. Journalists, adventurers and performers all need an audience to be able to practice their art and they need to produce revenue in order to continue.
Recently there was an article in the NY Times about how performers have used The Moth Storytelling Slams as a jumping off point to further their careers. Being seen in a popular event is a good way to prop up their reputations.
I Googled self promotion and came up with more than 14 million references. Networking and blowing your own horn is a legitimate business strategy and face it, artists are in the business of getting their work out there. Because, after all, artists have to pay their bills.