For those of us who feel we "don't have a choice" but to do music, a fulfilling musical career is worth fighting for. The question remains how we can ensure a stable income and what can we do to make sure our calendars fill with work.
Many musicians assume that there's a direct line between musical ability and income. I strongly disagree, except in the increasingly rare cases in which one lands an audition for a long term gig.
Consider how many musicians who play beneath your level are making more money than you. Now consider how many amazing musicians are not working. This should be enough to convince you that musical skill does not always correlate with getting gigs. The most successful free lance musicians got lucky, have an incredible network, or built a successful business through hard work and skillful promotion. The only thing you can control, besides your playing, is the quality of your business execution.
The restaurant business is a great analogy. Eight out of ten restaurants supposedly fail, and I'd bet that most of these restaurants are launched by chefs who make really tasty food! The reason they fail is presumably because there's a difference between cooking well and running a restaurant. Being good at your craft is different than being good at the business of selling your craft. If you want to grow your career quickly, I recommend that instead of spending time in the practice room, you start developing some business chops.
Most musicians dislike business. We just want to play music, and asking for money feels pushy and dirty. If you believe in the value of your music, you must be comfortable with the monetary value of your work. It takes income to make time to practice, take lessons, prepare new works, let alone providing for our families.
Sales and marketing make up the engine of business, while having clear goals, organizational skills and a strong mindset help keep that engine running.
Assuming you can provide a service which fills a need and has a value, you need to offer that product persistently and effectively to as many of the right people as you possibly can. The more offers you make, the more gigs you will land and the more money you will be able to earn.
It's really that simple.
The mountain is there in front of you. Are you going to climb it or not?
Here’s a process you can use to create a burst of income or develop a new project. It's the same process that I'll guide people through in my next My 2.0 month-long online interactive course Nov. 15-Dec15
-Is it a long term or short term goal? If you are strapped for cash, you should include at least one “short term” goal, If money isn’t an issue, you can focus on long term projects.
Write down 1-3 specific goals. If you aren’t sure, then post several options and explain the pros and cons as you see them. I recommend a maximum of three (one or two is totally fine).
Examples of what are NOT typically good goals (because these are usually a means to an end):
Build a website
Make a Facebook page
Produce an album
Here are better examples of short term and long term goals:
-Who are the related contacts or prospects (the buyers or the decision makers who can provide you with a gig)
-What are the best ways to reach these contacts with your offer (contact info and preferred mode of contact)
The Pitch: sales letters, videos, voice mails, or scripts. You may need multiple letters. For example, a letter for the first touch, a letter for when people say they are interested, a letter asking for referrals, etc.
My new music business course will provide these benefits to working musicians: more income, more time, more desirable gigs, and more impact.
My new music business course has the following components: Personalized support, group calls, peer-support, curriculum resources, etc.
Effective sales requires persistence/patience, organization, and confidence. there are various tactics and strategies, but for most of us, the psychology behind selling is even more important.
Frame your offers in terms of asking for advice, referrals, or gigs.
Present them via email, social media messages, texts, phone calls, or face to face.
Identify your “go to” tools such as CRM, auto responders, email marketing applications, Facebook or YouTube ads, email signatures, templates, LinkedIn messages, social media campaigns, time saving apps. Delegate wherever possible to lighten the load.
Be very clear about “why" you are building your business, what your purpose is, and what you want. For example, I work hard because I want to support my family. I work hard because I want to have a vacation once a year. I work hard because I want to make a difference in the world with my music. I work to build my business because I really love to make music, and I really don't want to do another job.
Not every salesperson needs to be gregarious and outgoing. Craft an approach in keeping with who you authentically are.
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