Top 10 Tips for Music Entrepreneurs: How to Create Sustainable Career Success

With the year coming to a close, it is time for top 10 lists.  My contribution to the field is a top 10 list for Music Entrepreneurs on how to create career success.  This list reflects my belief that successful music entrepreneurs align who they are with what they do.

The short answer is be authentic, be unique, and master the skills that will enable you to create big dreams and make them happen. Not surprisingly, this list reflects the topics that I will be covering in my class next semester at YSM on Creating Sustainable Careers in the Arts.

Here are my top 10 tips for musicians who are committed to creating and sustaining authentic success:

1.    Be Authentic:  align your career with your  values, strengths and passions

In my experience, successful musicians are those whose careers reflect a deep-seated authenticity.   Authenticity has 3 components:

•    Values: the principles that guide your life
•    Strengths:  the things you are good at
•    Passions:  the things you love

The more your career aligns with and honors your values, the deeper the sense of satisfaction you will derive from what you do.  By playing to your strengths, you can work smarter, not harder, and enjoy what it is your doing. And what can be better than living your passions? . So spend some time figuring you what are your values, your strengths and your passions and then apply that knowledge to your career.

2.    Be unique:  know and use your brand

Once you know your authentic self, see how you are unique.  That means having a brand: knowing your authentic unique gift and communicating your promise to deliver that gift to the people you want to attract. Start by thinking about what you do and what that says about you. Then follow the 4step process and create your brand.

3.    Dream big  and start small:  set inspiring, realistic goals and make them happen

Music Entrepreneurs need a vision.  So tap into your dream. Set a powerful intention for your futureCreate inspiring goals that reflect your values, your passions and your strengths. And then figure out how to make it happen by breaking that intention down into manageable and realistic goals and taking actions each day and each week.  In this way, you can create the opportunities that will lead you to success and take the steps to make them happen.

4.    Be positive:  have the right attitude

Music Entrepreneurs radiate positivity both to inspire themselves and others.  This attitude stems from knowing that you are in control of yourself and making the right choices. Having a positive attitude is the fuel that will inspire you to create opportunities, inspire others to join along and help you to keep the faith, even when you hit challenges. Try these 5 tips to help you develop your positive attitude!  Then tap into your Best Self, figure out exactly what your challenges are and strategize the solutions to overcome those challenges.

5.    Prioritize and manage your time wisely

Music Entrepreneurs typically have a lot on their plate.  So know what is important to you not only professionally but also in your personal life.  Follow this 3-step process to take control over your time. Conquer your overwhelm by overcoming the inner challenges to effective time mangement:  procrastination, perfectionism and the inability to say no to others.  Have the confidence to know that by doing fewer things well, you will get much more done than by spreading yourself too thin.

6.    Make a financial plan

At the heart of music entrepreneurship is the ability to create a financially sustainable enterprise.  So invest some time in your financial health.  Make a budget that includes all of your expenses and be sure to add in savings.  Get out of credit card debt NOW.  Identify your different revenue streams and how much you make from each one; then figure out how to increase each stream.

7.    Network effortlessly and effectively

One thing I love about the music world is that it is still a people business.  You therefore need to know and connect with others with whom you are in sync.  That’s my definition of networking. Master the 4 principles of effortless and effective networking.  Prepare a good elevator speech.  You are then ready to spend the time reaching out to and creating a group of mutually supportive people with whom you connect and are in sync.  It’s another way to share your authentic self with others.

8.    Get support:  Form a Personal Board of Directors

Seek out people who understand your situation or are a positive influence. Join a support group or create your own with like-minded friends. Hire a coach. Form your own personal board of directors comprised of people whose skills sets complement yours and whose advice you respect and honor. And do not hesitate to reach out beyond the music world.  Try out a meeting of your board.  You will be amazed at the insights you will acquire!

9.    Market yourself authentically to connect with you ideal target audience

Marketing is another critical skill for success as a music entrepreneur.  It extends your brand by helping you to connect with your ideal target audience. Figure out who is your target audience and where you can find that audience. Then use your brand so that you can stand out and connect with that audience through your website, social and traditional media and in all written communications, including your bio and other professional career materials..

10.    Engage your audience

A growing trend in the music world is audience and community engagement.  The secret to successful engagement is to be able to speak powerfully and effectively about yourself and your music.  So know your communication style, listen powerfully and speak intelligently and intelligibly about your music.

One last observation. 

Music Entrepreneurship is a life-long journey because artists cannot rest of their laurels.  With that thought in mind, stay open to possibility, be flexible, learn from your challenges and keep going.

Happy Holidays to all!