The Artist Entrepreneur Toolbox
The music industry and just business in general is a tough environment. In fact it is the human’s modern version of living in the jungle. Here you will find snakes, poisonous animals, forbidden fruit and all types of obstacles that can stand in the way of you getting to where you dream to be. It is important to note that in this jungle, it is darwinism at its finest: survival of the fittest. Only the most prepared, and the toughest remain. The others simply give up. Remember you are against millions of others doing the same thing. What makes one have success while others don’t seem to reach that point?
This is a guest post with vocalist, lyricist and producer Merty Shango
Let’s dig in…
First and foremost, congratulations to you. Why? Because you had the courage to take this difficult route. You climbed the impossible staircase instead of taking the elevator. Also the fact that you’re here shows that you are researching ways to get to the next level and guess what? You will get there.
So what’s really needed if you’re going to take the Oregon trail of music/business ? And what types of tools do you need for your toolbox to make sure you’re prepared for anything that comes your way?
Tenacity, determination and a whole lot of it. This may be one of the most important things you can have when walking this path. The same way bodybuilders have to be in the gym every single day to get their desired look, you have to be in your own type of gym, where you’re constantly honing your skills and improving your reality.
Are you at your hypothetical gym every day? If you are an artist, are you posting frequently? Is it on a schedule? Consistency is what beats most of the obstacles because most people can’t remain consistent for the long run. If you are able to master this skill set, it will do masterful things for you. Look at Russ, an independent artist who has blown up especially big for being indie, released a song a week for 3 years straight. That’s the type of consistency we are talking about. Over time word spread about Russ’ music and because he constantly released new content and he was consistent. How willing are you to keep fighting everyday for what’s important? If you can turn this into your power, you’ve already beaten out 90% of the competition. You only lose when you give up. Stay determined, stay consistent and fight for what’s yours. Make hard work one of your talents.
How disciplined are you? How willing are you to be in uncomfortable positions? How long can you endure that? This is the next tool you’ll need in your toolbox. We already discussed how important consistency is, but endurance is a different side of consistency. If you are working a 9-5 with the dream of having your music career being your full time job, then it’s important to remember once you finish your work, you must begin your “work”. Part of that endurance aspect is just the willingness to make sacrifices. This means instead of going out on a Friday night, you are on your computer working on your email list, or out networking making new connections for your upcoming releases, or in the studio working on your next single.
The point is, your legs don’t move if you don’t move them. If you want to get to where you want to be, it will require movement. It’s so easy to pop on Netflix after a long day of work, crack open a bottle of wine and binge watch your favorite show, but just remember that all that time you are watching the TV someone else is putting in those hours to become great. You have to decide how bad you want it and how far you’re willing to go to reach your dreams. I promise you, if you do all the right things and follow this toolbox list, in 6 months from now, you will see a considerable difference in where you are. Be willing to put your head down and work without looking at the clock.
Another thing I’d love to mention here is: don’t beat yourself up when you face disappointments. Your ability to handle being told no, is going to be a huge factor to how far you’ll go. If you’re afraid of being let down or disappointments, truly this isn’t the job for you. I remember pitching my songs to blogs and getting one yes to every 20 no’s. Imagine being told no 20 times before your first yes. Though it sucks, if I stopped at blog 18, I would have gotten zero results.
Grow thick skin. Set a goal, or have an intention, and don’t let any winds of disappointment, or no’s, or amount of time it’s taking before you’re recognized, deter you from your objective. Remember if it was supposed to be easy, everyone would have it. and then it wouldn’t be special anyway. Baby steps are still steps… trust the process.
I promise before you sigh and think this is some cliche tool for your toolbox, hear me out. You gotta really love this if you’re going to make it as an artist/entrepreneur. If it feels like work, then it might not be your passion. Loving what you do is honestly a super hack. All of a sudden arduous work feels good as you are achieving your goals, and what feels better than that? Do you have the capacity to love something that may frustrate you quite often? Love bleeds through, and you will always have a stronger result if it’s part of your equation.
You ever walk in a room and you can just feel someone is having a great day? Energy radiates, and if you feel good and love your craft and love the journey (not the destination) you will feel that energy bringing you all types of positive abundance. Compare your attitude when you do something you love vs when it’s just something you do because you feel you need to. The same way you need to love your partner to remain in a relationship, you need to love your craft and love the process of becoming the best version of yourself.
No, not literally, but could you imagine? Really what I mean by tentacles is reaching out. Networking is a huge part of being an artist and entrepreneur. Remember the whole human existence is based on communication so get out there and start conversing! It’s so easy to be absorbed in yourself and your content, but connect with others. You never know what kind of great relationships you can foster. Think about every famous rapper you know. Nearly each one of them at the very least made some of their friends famous as well. It pays to have great friends.
Of course don’t go to meet people thinking they’re your next meal ticket, but the point is that healthy symbiotic relationships are amazing for getting to the next level. Ultimately people want to work with people they know and they often recommend their friends over a stranger. The more people you know the more your movement gets spoken about and who knows, one of these people may be the reason you elevate to that next level.
Next time you see another artist, ask to collaborate, go to conferences, head to conventions or music festivals. Find places where people who are likeminded go. Fortune favors the bold! Get on your feet and get those tentacles working 🙂
I think one of the things people mostly forget about being an artist and an entrepreneur is that it isn’t easy. You have to be flexible. You have to be prepared for tough times. It’s not a downhill ride. This path has hills, slopes, floods, and all types of terrain. As an entrepreneur, I had to learn to balance myself. I had some months when I made crazy amounts of business, then I had some months when it was completely dry. You have to be flexible with this. Same as with the music. There were months I would get booked like crazy doing many shows – then months I couldn’t get a single show.
Learn how to move with the tides, and learn how to keep your head high when the lows are there, and not to get too full of yourself or overspend when the highs are there. Remember the mentality of an entrepreneur is to think outside of the box and be your own boss. Learn how to improve yourself! I am a sucker for a great self development book or a biography of someone that has inspired me. Take time to read up on your craft and educate yourself as much as possible.
Being flexible is a skill and an art form. Learn to master this and you will find yourself on top in adverse circumstances. Quit expecting things to be perfect all the time and learn how to make perfection out of the not so perfect.
All in all, I definitely feel these are the perfect tools for your toolbox. You need to have the tenacity to take the risk, and the endurance to get through it. Once you do, maintaining the love and the passion for it keeps you going. The connections gain awareness and the flexibility helps you to handle it all. Just remember Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither was your idol. Be patient with yourself and remind yourself that you got it, because you do.