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If You’re a Musician, You’re an Entrepreneur. So Act Like It.

Posted in A Day in the Life, Future Legends, Indie Music, Music Blogosphere | 2 Comments »

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One issue that comes up when talking to musicians is that many of them don’t believe that they have a business until their music makes money.

If you consider the bad habits that some musicians are known for (being late, flaky, intoxicated, etc), it’s not a surprise why their anticipated success does not come. And when I think of the musicians who are getting ahead, they usually have their business together, even if their musical peers don’t believe that they’re musically talented.

In my opinion, the reality is actually the other way around: Only after you deal with the business side of things will your music make money. When you (not your manager, agent, or mother) are the one managing important day-to-day details like organizing your time, following up with contacts, and evaluating your progress, only then can you expect that your music business will grow.

While percolating on this idea for Musicians Lunch New Orleans, I was inspired to ask Derek Sivers for a different kind of interview. As the creator of CD Baby, he’s had a bit of success over the years. Curious girl that I am, I wanted to know what makes success like his possible: What in his mindset enabled him to start the first online CD store for indie musicians??? Interviewers usually ask him about indie music and musicians, and he’s generous with sharing what he’s learned, but I wanted to dig deeper.

So for the past few days, Derek and I have been emailing back and forth questions and answers on having a success mindset. As usual, he gives answers I never expect, and blows my assumptions out of the water. Regardless of his unexpected responses (which will be featured soon here in the blog), it’s obvious that he has a success mindset.

At the ripe age of 14, Derek decided that he was going to be a professional full-time musician, and gave serious thought to what that would mean: no salary, no insurance, no security, no guarantees, etc. Because he understood these facts, he made decisions accordingly in order to be successful in pursuing this goal. He started making money from touring when he was 18. When he was 27, he was able to buy a house in Woodstock, NY from touring.

By the time he had the “one-in-a-million brilliant” idea to create CD Baby, he had already mastered the entrepreneurial skills needed to run a successful company. He makes it sound so easy, but in reality,
Derek Sivers honed his business skills while he was a full-time musician.

If you don’t believe me, read his latest blog post What do musicians and entrepreneurs have in common?

If you want more ideas on how to grow your music business, check out the blog posts from November’s “Recession-Proof Musician” series! Featuring awesome guest blogs from folks like Seth Godin, Bob Baker, Hugh MacLeod, there’s a lot of inspiration to be enjoyed!

2 Responses to “If You’re a Musician, You’re an Entrepreneur. So Act Like It.”

  1. Lisa Leitl Says:

    Love this article! So true. In my 18+ years as a full time professional singer, I heard all the excuses as to why some musicians weren’t working. The bottom line was that they weren’t running their music life like a business! I had hired replacements at times when I needed to take time off and they would forget to show up! How does someone do that? I always said, “I run a business and music is the product I offer!”

  2. Carla Says:

    Thanks for your comment, Lisa! I love your phrase: “I run a business and music is the product I offer!” Go YOU!!!

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