One of the reasons I work so well with musicians and why I also chose to go into the music industry is because musicians are very similar to entrepreneurs.
Firstly, we are both seen as the outcasts; the risk takers. And generally not seen in a positive light by the ‘normal’ public (of course, until we make it, then we are seen as heroes).
I mean how many of your friends and families have been asking you “when are you gonna get a proper job?”.
We have always been different because we CHOOSE our own lives based on our own terms.
Secondly, we both create something out of nothing. We both start with an idea then use our tools and resources to transform that idea to life… Into an actual finished product.
These types of personalities are very similar right?
But one thing sets them apart: their core motivator.
The biggest main difference between an artist and an entrepreneur is artists value creation; while entrepreneurs create value.
Musicians just want to make music and create art. But putting a price on it while creating products and commercialising this is very difficult.
This is an artist’s mentality.
An entrepreneurial mentality will say “this is how we will do it” and/or “I don’t know how, but let’s figure it out”.
Entrepreneurs do something they love and look for the best/fastest way to scale it and create revenue.
Artists don’t give a sh*t if the money comes — they’ll keep doing the thing anyway.
The biggest problem I face with the artists that I work with is that they are operating their business – with an artist mindset.
What commonly comes with an artist’s mindset is the sheer lack of valuing yourself and products.
Being entrepreneurial is a skillset you need to train as an artist.
It will be the difference between making it or not. It will be the difference between the type of opportunities you create and receive.
If you want to go independent, being entrepreneurial will be a necessity.
You can be very successful as an entrepreneur in your entrepreneurial efforts but your core is being an artist. That is why you need to train this skillset continuously.
To assist in helping you grow as a business, I’ve compiled a list of 5 of the biggest things I’ve learnt on my journey from student to entrepreneur, and on to the world of music.
Know Your Weaknesses
Knowing what your strengths and weaknesses are will be extremely important. Both with your art as well as your music.
By knowing you have the artist mindset and acknowledging this, you are already on the right path to succeeding.
However, if you’re aware of it but not doing anything about it – this is just as useless.
Far too many times I hear musicians say “but I don’t know how to do this”, “it’s just not me” and “this is why I need a manager”.
I will tell you a little secret… One of my biggest weaknesses in college was public speaking. I hated it!
Whenever I was in front of the class I choked.
I started going to the bar next door before class to take a shot in order to even get through class. It was brutal.
I knew this would be one of my biggest obstacles I had to overcome if I wanted to get where I aimed to be.
When you KNOW your weaknesses you can start creating a plan and start working on it.
I stopped using the excuse “I was terrible at public speaking” and “I hate public speaking” along with all the negativity I associated around it.
Because I was more aware.
Stop looking at your weaknesses from a negative perspective and just put the cards on the table.
Enough with the excuses because you are not fooling anyone else other than yourself.
2. You Need To Be A Student
Growth is one of the 6 human needs.
Tony Robbins says: “if you do not grow you will die”.
No one else is in charge of your growth other than yourself.
When you know your weaknesses, this should be one of the areas you focus and invest more time into. The first step here is to actually start educating yourself in these problem areas.
I’m not saying you need to go to business school and get a business degree.
You need to learn from people who have the entrepreneurial mindset. Even though I am an entrepreneur I still study these skills every week.
I listen to selected podcasts, I read books, I read articles online. I set aside time every week to do this. Almost like a ritual.
Even though I am really busy executing my work at times, I will always prioritize time to continue developing these skills.
Even if it’s a 20 minute podcast per week in the most hectic times.
Here are some podcasts you can listen to who teaches the entrepreneurial mindset:
Ever since I read ‘The 4 Hour Work Week’ in College, Tim Ferriss has shaped my work and life.
What’s so genius about him is that he growth hacks his life. Everything!
It’s also why his chosen format is looooong conversations with a stunning guest list of world-class achievers from big business, the arts, science, the military and more.
He digs deep into their habits, problem solving, decision making and he breaks it down into tools and resources that can help anyone.
This is how you will learn from the best! By getting in their heads and their habits!
That’s what Tim Ferris is doing on his show.
Guests so far have been Lebron James, Peter Thiel, Jamie Foxx and Arnold Schwarzenegger to name a few.
I mean don’t you want to know how they start their day and how they structure their time and make their decisions?
Whenever I go through hard times and need motivation and my energy back I turn to Tony Robbins.
You may have seen his Netflix special or his TED talk.
Tony Robbins is a life coach to the higher achievers. His podcast is great as it tackles both the mental challenges you face as an entrepreneur, as well as specific cases and interviews as well.
He will help you form your entrepreneurial mindset and give you the tools to tackle them.
He also has a list of guests such as Pitbull, Michael Phelps, and (my favorite) Simon Sinek.
Gary Vee will tell you EXACTLY how it is. No bullshitting around. It’s refreshing! It’s new! It’s brutal, sometimes. But it’s needed.
He is the biggest advocate for JUST F*CKING DO IT, and f*ck what everyone else thinks about you! Which is what you need to hear sometimes.
You should listen to his tribute to Nipsey Hussle (who btw was a perfect combination of both artistic and entrepreneurial mindset).
Also, here are some books you can start with:
3. Practice What You Learn
It is not enough just to study the mindset of the entrepreneur. You need to start practicing it. You need to start doing things. Start experimenting with products and putting commercial value on art.
Pricing yourself and forming products is a process and it starts by testing.
I just saw the interview with Chance the Rapper’s manager where they started with one show at Lincoln Hall in Chicago. The goal was to fill that one up.
Then they started growing more and more.
Let’s take a look at Nipsey with his $100 mixtape. He created a small project, put commercial value on it and found a way he could sell it.
The art of creating a business around your music is to start testing products. Think creatively around your art and start putting a price on it!
You need to move from passion and over to products.
When I realised that in order to market my products and generate income; I had to become confident in these areas that petrified me for years.
The way I overcame my public speaking phobia (well not overcome, I now have it fairly under control) was to put myself in lots of uncomfortable situations.
If an opportunity came along where I would speak on a stage I would say yes. Guest lectures at colleges, conferences, presentations, pitching in front of investors. I would actually practice! I would do what I was most uncomfortable doing!
4. You Need to Talk About MONEY
You need to have a healthier relationship with money. And of course promoting and selling yourself.
Your art will not sell by itself (sorry to tell you this – but in this day and age it just won’t happen).
Too many times I see artists putting their blood, sweat and tears into creating the art. But when it comes to promoting and selling it, they share a post once and stop.
Along the lines of history making money as a musician has been looked upon as negative… “Sell out!”, etc.
Making money in the music world is often associated with negativity.
Almost every musician I work with has underpriced themselves and therefore undervalued themselves.
The first thing I do when I work with them is to make them aware of this. Whenever you talk about money and price, musicians will retreat into their safe zone. They hate it!
5. This Is For My Entrepreneurs Out There:
My last tip is for entrepreneurs and what entrepreneurs can learn from musicians: there is benefit to creativity with no goal of income.
What I see far too many times with entrepreneurs is that they lose their passion.
They don’t have the discipline to keep going and pursue their passion through all the failures you need to go through in order to find the right recipe to scale up.
Artists never lose their passion because they stop making money on it.
Or they never make any money at all because they never went into it for the money in the first place.
You will be a better business owner and entrepreneur if you focus on the passion and you let this drive your growth and motivation.
This is what will take you through the different failures you will face.
Wherever you may be on your journey to creating a living from your passion, it’s important to recognise your weaknesses. But also to shine some gratitude on the past moments that made you want to hide from the world.
From educating yourself in your free time on a range of different topics to working on your current fears – there’s never an end to the highs and lows of being an independent musician or an entrepreneur.
Allow yourself some time to plan out your strengths and work on your weaknesses. Try to get it all down on a piece of paper that you update regularly or just look back on in a few weeks time.
We’re all capable of greatness, it’s how much you invest in the process that separates success from everybody else.