“The best way to predict the future is to invent it.” This is a great quote from Alan Kay, one of the creative geniuses behind the laptop computer and the mouse. Musician can apply this thinking to their own careers by planning for success in a dedicated and systematic way.
I came across this great guest post by Kevin English on Creative Deconstruction that talks about the “Lower Class Musician” and suggestions for how to lift yourself out of that class into a middle or upper class status through controlling your overhead, aligning your expectations, creating a plan, getting a good and current education and diversifying your product offering. These are all things that I have blogged about in great detail in the past and agree with completely.
Here in an excerpt from Kevin’s post:
“Learn to structure yourself like any other startup and formulate a strategy on paper that will sustain you for three to five years. You’ll soon find out that overspending on manufacturing, marketing, promotion and distribution is very difficult to recoup.
Adjust Your Expectations
For some of us, music is a hobby and that is okay. However, if you plan on feeding your children by touring the Chitlin’ circuit, that’s another thing entirely. When I realized that writing songs for Columbia Records and recording demos with The Fugees wasn’t going to sustain me forever, I had to adjust my expectations. These gigs were few and far in between and often times didn’t pay half as much as you would expect them to.
I studied profitable ideas, people, and businesses to find a common denominator. I learned that nine out of ten successful startups had a business plan. Not just any old plan, but one that was standard across all industries. Financial planning, marketing, and the management of people and products/services cannot be done on the fly. If all you want is for people to hear your music that is fine. But again, you can’t necessarily expect to make a decent living.
Accelerate Your Learning
Hundreds of books have been written on the subject of business plans, yet no one in the music business seems to think they need one — until, of course, they run out of cash. I spent years in my local SBA in Newark, NJ looking at sample plans, meeting with retired CEOs of successful companies, and learning how basic businesses operate.
If you do the same you’ll realize that most startups have more similarities than you’d expect. However, it is important to point out that no two plans are alike. You will still need to write a plan specifically based around your music-related products and services. My first plan was a disaster. I asked my uncle for $75K with a promise to return 20% of the loan over the next five years. He had a good laugh over that one, but at least he knew I was serious about my dreams.”
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