The Reason Most Artists Aren't Making Money in the Business...The Answer May Surprise You
**Guest post written by Nifty of Music Full Time.com.
"Everyone’s entitled to their opinion, and so if you disagree with mine, well that’s totally okay. Since you’re here though, why not humor me and read on? At the very least, I’ll try to be entertaining. Here’s the thing; I strongly believe that 98% of the things in this world can be broken down into a “method” or “science” – which is just about everything if you think about it.
Life is full of patterns, rules and laws. Once you begin to tap into these patterns, “success” becomes very attainable.
If for example, as a singer, you give a stage show where your pitch is so off that listeners wish they were deaf, and your accompanying lack of rhythm does little more to endear you, there is an incredibly high probability that for the entirety of your set you won’t be very well received by the audience. Call it a hunch.
The “unwritten” rules of a stage performance stipulate that your words, notes and keys have to be clear for a positive reception. This is precisely why such a plethora of vocal coaches and voice lesson teachers exists out there in the great big world; these services were created to increase a singer’s likelihood of “success” on stage. The same sort of logic applies for any instrument one might play. The rules (and unwritten rules) are important.
“What Gives? I put on a wicked stage show. How come I can’t make enough money to just quit my job and do music full time?”
The answer to this question is surprisingly simple. Artists just don’t know the rules of business. While you may possess an incredible artistry, and no-one’s denying that, the rules and principles of business are actually MORE important in order for you to make a full time income. You heard me (or rather, you read it, but you know what I mean). Business rules are more important than “music” rules – ONLY IF you want to make money.
Hence the reason you’ll all too often observe a “sub-par” musician embarking on a massive world tour or topping the billboard charts. Their “artistry” may have played a part, sure – but someone (or a group of people) with strong business acumen put ‘em there.
So what are we missing here?
What many struggling artists fail to realize is that “successful” musicians operate with solid business principles. Successful business models – for the most part – can be applied across different businesses and areas of life.
The primary business principle I’m talking about is “putting your customer first”; in this case, your “customers” are your fans. Fall in love with your fans and stop falling in love with your own music.
This is the problem. Too many musicians only think about how good they are (or think they are) and have stopped thinking about their fans and fans to be. The PmC complex kicks in and they feel entitled.
For a detailed explanation on PmC, if you’re unfamiliar with the term, check out You’re Talented. How Come You’re Still Broke?
Recognize That You’re In A Serious Relationship (With Your Fans).
I can tell you from experience and personal knowledge that there are tons of full time indie artists that you’ve never heard of and probably won’t ever hear of – and yet they’re making more money than the doctors at your local hospital. True story. Why? Because they understand the principles of a successful business.
Here in Toronto, I constantly come across rappers who insist that a seated audience “get up and put their hands in the air”. They do it because this fits their own perceptions of a “good show” and/or they’re hoping someone captures a good shot of them “rocking” the crowd.
Newsflash though, these people are sitting because they want to sit. They’re comfortable. If they’re feeling the show, they’ll get up. On their time. An audience with that attitude doesn’t really appreciate being forced to stand and raise their hands; in fact, if they don’t feel like obliging you, they won’t. This approach of course, amounts to lower CD sales and disgruntled artists griping about our city and saying they ought to move to the states (which they never do, because these artists have the PmC bug we talked about earlier.)
In any relationship, you’ll find that things run smoothly when you consider your partner’s needs ahead of your own. It’s not about depriving yourself; it’s about being interested in what the other person requires in order to be happy – if you’re in the right relationship, your partner should be doing the same for you, which makes for a great union.
As artists, we need to realize that we’re in a relationship with our fans, and start thinking about the “other person” more than we think about ourselves. If we focus on making our fans happy, then the resulting love we get back will show in our sales.
It’s a two way street. This is the biggest and most profitable business principle I can leave with you. It truly works.
Aside from that, we need to read a book or two on business to thoroughly educate ourselves on revenue making models. If music is just a hobby for you…no problem; hope this article wasn’t too much of a time-waster for you. But if you are looking to make money with your music, well, making money is a business and it’s also an art in and of itself. Take time to learn the patterns and rules of successful businesses. It will make a difference.
Check out the books below as recommended reading on business and marketing; they should definitely get your creative juices flowing.
- “Free Marketing” by Jim Cockrum (A great book of various low-cost and even free marketing techniques that easily translate to any business including music.)
- “Purple Cow” by Seth Godin (A favorite of recording artist Jay Z, this is an excellent book which helps train your mind to think outside the proverbial marketing box.)
- “Getting Everything You Can Out of All You’ve Got: 21 Ways You Can Out-Think, Out- Perform, and Out-Earn the Competition” by Jay Abraham (Title is self-explanatory and this book is worth the read; Abraham is a millionaire – he didn’t get there by accident- and swears by the principle of falling in love with the customer.)"
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