Google+ Q Dot: 2 things musicians can do today to go from aspiring to full time musician

Thursday, February 25, 2016

2 things musicians can do today to go from aspiring to full time musician

So what does it take to go from aspiring, part time musician to full time in today's music business?
Image result for office worker upset
You hate your dayjob huh?

There's no clear cut answer to this question because everyone's circumstances are different BUT even with that said, there are some things you can do today to get things moving in that direction.

So first things first...

1. F*ck your idea of "making it". 

The first step to conquering an addiction is admitting you have a problem. Well in this case, you first have to admit that you know NOTHING about the music business. Yes, you're a great observer of things and you mean well in your observations of why certain artists make it or why they don't but the truth is, you're only pointing out the part of the story that was made public. That's perfectly okay because that's how our brains work, the problem is when you take those observations to heart and try to make them fit into your situation. It's not that simple. But on the other hand it's easier than you think when you pull back the bullshit.  

If you want to be famous more than anything, skip the rest of this. If you want to make a living in the music business keep reading. 



Touring is obviously the easiest way to start making money in music and it's really not rocket science - especially if you're a hip hop artist. If you can sell 200 tickets per night, you're the norm amongst your peers. I did some rough research in my last months of my Masters degree program that revealed Hip Hop tours do anywhere from 180-200 tickets per show when you take out the few top grossing hip hop tours.

Image result for hip hop touringSo let's do some math here using less than average figures. Say you can swing 100 tickets a night and you play 40 shows a year. That equals out to 10 shows every 3 months which is fairly manageable at 10 bucks a pop (slightly less than the median ticket price). Well you've just made yourself $40K a year. That's before merch, that's before streaming royalties, that's before licensing or sponsorships.

I get it, you don't know how to book a tour or you THINK you should be getting a fat guarantee every show. Newsflash, countless bands learn how to use the tools and resources out there and they know that guarantees only come when you're proven in a market. Plus door deals are typically better than the guarantee for artists starting out so take it!

Read: 3 Tips to opening for big name artists

2. Build a system, culture and philosophy.

If there's one nugget you take from this article it's this. Every thing around you that works well does so because of an efficient system and clear philosophy. McDonalds franchises are wildly successful because they have a system that works. You know can buy a better burger at countless places, hell you can make a better burger than McDonalds can at home, but their tried and true system of fast, reliable, consistent service is unbeatable. It's unhealthy as f*ck and that's been documented countless times over but it fits the schedules of busy Americans and people keep going back.

Look at successful sports teams as another source of great systems, cultures and philosophies. Since Pete Carroll took over the Seattle Seahawks, he implemented a system and a philosophy that players buy into and the result is a culture of winning evidenced by multiple years of playoff appearances and 2 super bowl appearances including 1 one win.  Surprise surprise, it was the same system Pete Carroll used when he coached USC.

Image result for phrenology head
I'm getting a PhD in I/O Psychology.
But you don't need to do that.
Phil Jackson is another successful coach who built a system that as long as he had the right players would work. It was called the triangle, a complex system that some players hated to play in and some could never catch on to but regardless Phil Jackson has won championships using the system coupled with his Zen philosophy. This bred a culture of winning no matter where he went.

You may be thinking - hey i'm an artist, I don't wanna do ANY of this shit. Well then you don't want to be in this business because the one thing harder than doing these things on your own is finding someone who can do them for you - and let's be real, you don't have the money to hire anyone. If it makes you feel any better, Bill Gates and Steve Jobs were horrible bosses by a lot of accounts but they too were phenomenal creators who happened to lead a company.

Read: Guess what? The economics favor indie musicians

3. Conclusion 

All in all, the first steps you gotta take to making music a career is to change your entire thought process about the music business because chances are your paradigm is warped. And even if it isn't, it's safe to assume that you've probably tried some of everything that you've seen someone else do in order to "make it" and it simply doesn't apply to you because the things you've observed were only part of the story.

Once you've cleared your mind of the bullshit and start to focus on the things that absolutely matter for your career to flourish, stick to it. It won't alway be perfect but that's the good thing, you're working out a system, building a culture around you and developing a philosophy for success. .

Watch: Black Gold a year later