There’s always that struggle, that dragging of the feet when it comes to dealing with the business part of your music career. If you’re not going to take the time to learn the business… congratulations on your music hobby, because that’s all it will ever be. And that’s ok, if that’s what you want.
But I have a feeling most of you want a whole lot more.
While there’s a lot to know and manage in your career (how to crowdfund, how to market your music, how to create your marketing materials, how to network, and so so much more), your mindset is actually the most important piece in the entire equation.
Sure, it’s important to understand copyrights, royalties, publishing & licensing, branding, PR, and social media conversion (all of which you can find covered on this website). But, it’s even more important to breathe and step back to get a clear perspective on how it all works together as a whole.
Below are 5 lessons/concepts that are imperative for anyone who’s looking to achieve their dreams and take responsibility for their future to understand, no matter the industry.
#1: It’s Not Personal
Such a small phrase, yet it holds such a powerful lesson in it. One of the most powerful lessons of The Four Agreements. To survive any business you must understand that it’s nothing personal – it’s just business. As cliche as that is, it’s true. There’s always going to be a bottom line. It won’t matter how talented you are, how many people you know, or how nice you’ve been to the people you work with, sometimes things just won’t work out and you’ll have to accept that.
Much like in love, the ever-popular “it’s not you” – but it’s really not.
Reminding yourself that it’s a business and everyone has a boss and bottom line to answer to will help you bounce back from rejection a lot easier so you can keep searching for the right fit.
#2: Money Is Just Paper
This is something we all struggle with at some point. Money is not something you should fear. You shouldn’t fear making it, or losing it. Sure, a LOT easier said than done.
But one thing you’ll learn over time, the more you understand money and it’s purpose, the more knowledgable you are about where it’s coming from, how much/little you have at any given time, and what you need to do to break even/turn profit, the more control you will have over it.
And, the more control you have, the less afraid of it you’ll be.
Once you have control and an understanding over your finances (even if you’ve delegated the actual maintenance to someone else) you will be smarter in making decisions about the direction of your career.
Understanding what you’re making and spending is a great way to help decide how risky a business decision may be for you at any given moment.
#3: You’re Not As Protected As You Think. Get Over It.
As soon as you come to terms with this concept, the more confident you’ll be in your decision making. Let’s look at copyrights for a second. Are they important? Yes. Should you file your music with the U.S. Copyright Office? You bet!
However, especially given the cost of filing these days, it all comes down to priorities and intentions. If you’re just starting out and the songs you’re releasing are not being used in the hopes of getting placed for licensing deals (in which case ALWAYS copyright your songs before pursuing any licensing interests!), and you’re shoe-string budget is stretched so thing you’re not sure where you’re next meal is coming from – don’t sweat trying to do everything at once.
This is not to be taken as legal advice, and do understand that mailing yourself a copy of your recording is not going to do anything to protect your work, but anyone can steal from you at any given moment. Anyone can break a contract and get away with it.
It’s hard to monitor it, and it’s even harder to prove it once you’ve come across the culprit. To be clear, here is what filing will help you do in a court of law: collect damages. It will not automatically make your case for you.
If you have samples in your songs and you haven’t cleared them – don’t even try to copyright your work! Use those songs as marketing content rather than career-making vessels.
If you are saving up money for a tour and you’re stressing out about protecting your music, you may want to stop and consider, “If someone does steal from me, can I even afford (both time and money) to bring a lawsuit against them?” Know where you’re at in your career.
Whether it’s a song or marketing idea or product, while it’s important to protect your work it’s just as important in the beginning stages to trust that you have a well of talent to grow from so avoid getting bogged down and entangled in sweating people who have copied you and protecting work that won’t necessarily catapult your career – focus on continuing to create and spreading the word about your work.
#4: It’s All On You
The goal as you grow your career is to delegate your work to others. But understand that delegating is much different than giving up the reigns.
Have an accountant? You better have a grasp on what you’re bringing in and what you’re spending, because at the end of the day the buck stops with you. You are responsible for your taxes. You are responsible for paying your bills.
As a musician or label owner, you are the captain of your ship. The sooner you accept your role, the sooner you can accept responsibility for how your ship is run, the sooner you will accept when things go wrong with grace and dignity.
#5: Never Stop Learning
As you can tell from the long list of business branches mentioned at the beginning of this post, there is a LOT to learn. Don’t let that overwhelm you. If you commit to learning a little each day you will soon see a vast improvement in your understanding of how each branch is connected.
Ask questions. Subscribe to blogs. Set aside 1 hour every day to read. Keep a journal. Have conversations with people who can teach you new things.
Even if it’s not always directly related to your career, a constant education will make you a more well-rounded individual. Being well-rounded will not only enable you to make smarter choices, it will allow you to attract and connect with a vast array of people, many of whom can add that much more to your career growth.
Keeping these 5 tips in mind will help you mentally prepare to take on your dreams and avoid unnecessary stresses caused by fear of the unknown. You’ve got this!
Tell us in the comments ONE thing you’re committing to this week to grow towards your goals!