Posted: Jun 19, 2017
Category: The Musician Business
**Guest post by Vinnie Hines of Artist Collective.
"The term “starving artist” is thrown around more than a roll at Lambert’s. Or a frisbee at a Lettuce concert. Or… you get what I’m saying. It’s thrown around a lot. It’s almost understood that if you’re a musician, you’re likely unemployed, homeless, broke or all three. I deal with it constantly when people ask what I do for a living. Though I love writing and booking, I will always and forever identify as a “musician.” It’s my passion and my purpose and here’s the kicker: I’m not broke. The reason for that, is that I have approached my music like a business from the get-go. I have shaken a lot of babies and kissed a lot of hands. (Or the other way around, rather.) I’m not looking for a pat on the back. I simply want to tell you what I wish someone would have told me 5 years ago when I started this journey.
Time is money. Save time, save money. Simple as that. Creating content takes forever and getting it to go viral is hard as hell. Outsource it to someone so you can continue creating content and making music. When you invest in outsourcing, you save time and you can give your full attention to your craft. If you’re like most musicians I’ve met, they all say they don’t care about the money or the fame, they just love the music. That is, until it’s time to invest in themselves. Save yourself time so that you can hyperfocus on creating the best stuff you can. If you’re too busy to create, then what are you, really?
Kickstarters, GoFundMe’s and the like work for some people that need/want a handout. Here’s my approach: pay for everything so that I get paid for everything in the longterm. I don’t want anyone having control over my money but me. I spend the money and do it wisely. Invest your money into opportunities that can make you more money. Pay a 15% fee to a booking agent so you can work three times as much. Invest in your promotion so that people actually show up to your shows. Have a monetized marketing strategy so you can become more than a garage band. Start treating your music like a business and spend your money on opportunities. Some investments may seem invisible, like online marketing, PR, and consultations, but these are all necessary expenses that a label would take care of. Considering ***LABELS ARE DEAD***, you’re going to have to shoulder these fees and make smart moves to get your return back in the long haul.
Every business on the planet knows one thing. Business Equity is infinitely more value than money in your pocket. This idea applies directly to your music career. Brand recognition is priceless and uber necessary and is an example of equity in your career. If you are wanting to be a long-term musician, you have to make long term plans. Realize that an investment may not see a return for years, if ever, but without taking those risks and taking on the costs, you’ll never know. The more you correctly invest in your career, the more return is available in the future.
Nothing goes viral by accident anymore. Nothing goes platinum that’s not backed by loads of cash. There is no way around it. Investment is synonymous with success, so let’s lay that foundation now. There is simply NO way around it. You can optimize your growth with smart moves, posts, interactions, etc, but in some way, shape or form, you will have to pay the piper. We encounter many bands that will easily pay $5,000+ on studio costs, but refuse to spend $20 on advertising or other marketing costs. This is the the equivalent of a donut shop ONLY spending money on making the donuts. They don’t pay for ad space online, hang fliers, or market their business at all. SO what happens? A few people might stumble on the donut shop and buy the product, but it would be much more successful if the shop was exposed to more people who are actively looking for donuts in the area. Invest in a marketing strategy, or no one will ever know you exist.
We are all musicians. We’re passionate. We claim we’re woke and enlightened and feel like we have something worth saying. As corny as it sounds, that is wildly more fulfilling and important than dollar signs will ever be. It’s easy to measure music investments the same way you measure your rent, but it’s comparing apples to oranges. A smart investment into your passion and your dreams is never misplaced. When I picture in my mind’s eye where I’ll be in my future, I see a G Wagon with priceless guitars in the trunk and a crowd teeming with energy begging for a performance. When I let the waves of that emotion come over me, I realize that all the money in the world isn’t worth the fulfillment of getting my career where I want it. I know it will happen and you should too. Don’t be afraid to risk it all to get where you want to be.
It all seems melodramatic, but we at Artist Collective get thousands of submissions a year of artists saying that they don’t know where to start. I can tell you the first thing you need to do is start investing in yourself. If you need assistance with this, don’t hesitate to reach out to us! >> SEND US YOUR MUSIC <<"
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