4 Things Musician Entrepreneurs Need To Be Building

Musician entrepreneurs need to be building four specific things. What are they?

I wouldn’t be surprised if your answered “businesses” or “music careers”.

These are not wrong answers, but you won’t find them on this list, because they are practically a given.

It’s important to be focused on doing the right things, because there are only a few things that will increase in value over time, and unless you invest in those thing, you could end your career and/or life with a great deal of regret.

Here are four things musician entrepreneurs need to be building.

1. Assets

Before I get into this, first, forget everything you’ve ever heard about assets.

Most of what people call an asset is actually a liability, such as a car, a boat, or a home. These items might factor into your personal net worth, but you should not look at them as assets. They depreciate in value over time.

So what is an asset?

To an entrepreneur, an asset is anything that produces ongoing (and preferably increasing) returns without their constant involvement.

There are basically three types of assets. They are:

  1. Businesses. If you own a business, and it produces income without your constant monitoring, it can definitely be considered an asset.
  2. Investments. Again, most investments people call “sure bets” – like mutual funds – have an incredibly low success rate. If you really want to learn the ins and outs of investing, read a book like Tony Robbins’ MONEY Master The Game: 7 Simple Steps to Financial Freedom (buy it on Amazon), which is a great book, but a really long and sometimes difficult read.
  3. Property. This includes intellectual property, which is good news for musicians (your music is a form of property). Of course, real estate and land also fall under this category.

Does creating an asset sound like a lot of hard work?

It should, and that’s why most people never create any passive streams of income.

But keep in mind that – even if you don’t get into business or investing – music is an asset that can be leveraged to help you create many streams of revenue. The main thing is to figure out how you can re-purpose the work you’ve already produced, and continue to build a deep catalogue of material, as every song is a new opportunity.

Whatever you choose to focus on, building assets should be one of your highest priorities.

2. Teams

There’s a difference between how employees think and how entrepreneurs think.

Employees work for money and for other people. If they’re particularly ambitious, they might look for ways to get paid more money per hour or per year, or negotiate commissions on sales.

Entrepreneurs have money and people work for them. They’re lazily ambitious, so they’re more interested in setting up teams and systems than in figuring out how much money they can squeeze out of an hour.

People with artistic tendencies try to do everything themselves. Ultimately it doesn’t matter whether you’re employee-minded or entrepreneur-minded – this usually works against you.

You can get a lot more done with the help of a team. Plus, really smart, talented people typically like to be in-demand and tasked with a lot of to-do items. As the saying goes, if you want something done, ask a busy person to do it.

3. Systems

You’re probably wondering how you can have things run on autopilot when you have a team to manage. This is where systems come into play.

Now, when I say “autopilot”, I don’t mean that you won’t at least have some maintenance work to do. I don’t know of any business models that allow for that much flexibility.

But when you have processes, procedures and policies in place for your employees, and they understand them and know how to follow them, you have a company that can function without you.

Systems can also work on a personal level. For example, you could create a checklist for yourself on what to post to social media and when. That way, you won’t forget about any sites you’re trying to build a presence on, and you’ll be able to build consistency and momentum over time.

You could also map out a morning routine, or have a specific way of taking notes on the books you read. You can create systems for just about anything, up to and including creative activities.

Your habits form your future, and you can reinforce them through personal systems. This makes you an excellent leader too.

4. Themselves

Last but certainly not least, you should be building yourself.

In general, there are basically five ways of developing yourself. They are:

  1. Reading. Novels might be entertaining and fun to read, but your true growth is going to come from leadership books, business books, personal development books, biographies of successful individuals, and the like. You might recall that I have a recommended reading list I linked to earlier.
  2. Listening to podcasts and audio programs. And yes, you can listen to audiobooks as well, but you shouldn’t use them to replace physical books (or eBooks, as the case may be). If you’re a real go-getter, you will get into the habit of reading and listening to challenging, value-adding material.
  3. Watching videos. Videos and DVD programs can also be beneficial for your growth. If you’re a visual learner, or if the material can only be learned visually, then videos can have considerable value.
  4. Mentorship. Do you have people in your life that have achieved things you would like to, but haven’t? Getting their perspective on things and sharing in your challenges is invaluable. A good mentor will guide you when you’re lost, but just remember – you have to initiate. A good mentor won’t start dishing out advice without prompting.
  5. Conferences, events, workshops, etc. Conferences and events provide opportunities for you to get away from your usual environment, connect with new and different people, and maybe even learn some new things.

Beware: everything has a way of becoming trite and comfortable after a certain point. I would encourage you to continue to challenge yourself over time. Read books that stretch your mind, talk to mentors that expand your vision, listen to audio that challenges your point of view, and so on.

Final Thoughts

Now you know exactly what you should be building.

Take some time to think about what you’re building right now. Does any of it fall under one of the categories already mentioned? Are you building assets, teams, systems, or yourself? Do you have clearly defined goals for your future? Do you know what you’re aiming at?

If you are, congrats! If you not, that’s okay, but you may want to give this more thought.

Is there anything else you think a musician entrepreneur should be building?

Let us know in the comments below!

Interested in Learning More About this Topic?

The Essential Guide to Music Entrepreneurship: 2018 EditionIf you’re looking for all the latest information on music entrepreneurship, and you’d like to explore this subject in more detail, we recommend checking out David Andrew Wiebe’s latest book, The Essential Guide to Music Entrepreneurship: 2018 Edition.

In addition to everything covered in the original guide, there are fresh insights, new sections and experts quotes, stats, and bonus content in the short volume.

Don’t miss out on cutting-edge information that could help you go beyond in your musicpreneurship career.

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5 Impacting Books I Read in 2015

Since I started reading a book per week in 2015, it shouldn’t come as any surprise that I ended up getting through quite a few more than last year.

But despite the fact that I read a larger number of books, there were still only a handful that I would consider impacting.

This might be because I’m already well-read on a variety of subjects, but it could also be because of the quality of the books themselves.

Anyway, towards the beginning of 2015, I shared with you five impacting books I read, so I thought I would continue this tradition into 2016.

Here, in no particular order, are five impacting books I read in 2015.

1. Beyond Positive Thinking: A No-Nonsense Formula for Getting the Results You Want by Robert Anthony and Joe Vitale

Beyond Positive Thinking by Robert AnthonyEver since reading The Ultimate Secrets of Total Self-Confidence (affiliate link), Robert Anthony’s work has stuck with me.

When I really think about it, I simply can’t underestimate the ways in which this book changed my life, and continues to have influence over how I live.

I first heard about Beyond Positive Thinking because of YouTube. There’s an audiobook version as read by Joe Vitale, and it’s fantastic.

So you’re probably wondering how this read was. Honestly, I think it might be the best book on personal development I’ve ever read, and the plain text version is just as good as the audiobook.

Every sentence resonates with truth. Every paragraph inspires the reader to believe in their own capacity, and to take action on their dreams.

And the best part is that Anthony is not unrealistic. He tells you exactly the kind of hardships and challenges you can expect to encounter on your way to achieving your goals.

Anthony’s work doesn’t just hold up. It continues to be just as relevant as it ever was.

Purchase this book on Amazon (affiliate link)

2. The Power of Intention: Learning to Co-create Your World Your Way by Dr. Wayne W. Dyer

The Power of Intention by Wayne DyerI first heard the audiobook version of The Power of Intention several years back when a friend lent it to me. I remembered liking it, and I promised myself that I would buy my own copy.

Then, a couple of years ago, I picked up the book. It sat on my shelf for a while, but I finally got around to reading it last year.

This wasn’t the only book by Wayne Dyer I read in 2015. I also got into Excuses Begone!: How to Change Lifelong, Self-Defeating Thinking Habits (affiliate link), and it was quite good.

But The Power of Intention may very well be one of his best works, and it is now one of my all-time favorite spiritual books.

It is an instruction manual on life – the one you never got when you were born but maybe wish you had.

Dyer helps us understand how the universe operates, how to interpret our surroundings and present circumstances, and how to grow in our spirituality. A must-read.

Purchase this book on Amazon (affiliate link)

3. Double Double: How to Double Your Revenue and Profit in 3 Years or Less by Cameron Herold

Double Double by Cameron HeroldThis is actually my second read-through of Double Double, but what they say about books connecting with you in different ways at different times is absolutely true.

This book has been on my recommend book list for a long time, and for good reason. For me, it only becomes more relevant as I continue to grow as an entrepreneur.

I’ve talked about how I’ve been achieving more clarity around my long-term goals in life, and I feel that I owe a great deal to this book.

After reading it, I came away with the feeling that I definitely needed to do a better job of creating boundaries in my life, getting more rest, and taking two or three weeks off every single year.

I don’t necessarily believe in vacations, or vacating from your life to go to some tropical island so you can worry about what’s waiting for you back at home. But it is a convenient word to describe what I mean. I know me, and I know I need more downtime.

So whether you’re looking to double your business in the next three years or less or not, if you’re in business at all, this book has something to offer.

Purchase this book on Amazon (affiliate link)

4. Book Yourself Solid: The Fastest, Easiest, and Most Reliable System for Getting More Clients Than You Can Handle by Michael Port

Book Yourself Solid by Michael PortI read this book for the same reason everyone else does – I wanted to be booked solid!

And you know what? The steps and suggestions outlined within are awesome. I don’t think you can go wrong implementing Port’s system for getting more clients.

Shortly after reading it, I was already calling it my Business Bible. I wish it had a little more on the topic of product launches, but at least Port tells you where you can go to learn more about that.

And you know what? As I was beginning to put my new knowledge to use, I suddenly came to realize how booked solid I already was!

This doesn’t mean that I won’t go back and study this book more. But for the time being, I already have plenty on my plate.

I don’t know of a more practical guide to getting the kind of clients you want, so whether you’re a freelancer or an entrepreneur, this one is worth your time.

Purchase this book on Amazon (affiliate link)

5. Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Producitvity by David Allen and James Fallows

Getting Things Done by David AllenYour brain is a horrible capturing and storage device. This is just one nugget of wisdom from this 294-page epic on personal productivity.

As per Allen’s suggestion, you don’t necessarily need to implement everything that’s in the book to benefit from it. Simply taking bits and pieces and applying them to your life will go a long way towards boosting your overall effectiveness.

I’m kind of a crazy person, and ideas come to me at all hours of the day. So one of the things I’ve started doing as result of reading this book is writing everything down. If ideas start coming to me as I’m trying to wind down for the day, there’s no way I’m going to get to sleep, so it’s better to get everything down on paper before my mind is saturated with ideas and to-do items.

Thanks to this book, I’ve also created a low-energy list, a someday/maybe list, as well as a new goal list.

When I thought about books that impacted me last year, this wasn’t the first one that came to mind, but the more I think about the way I do things now, the more I realize how much I owe to the GTD system.

Purchase this book on Amazon (affiliate link)


Do you know what you will be reading in 2016? I’ve already made a comprehensive list of every book I intend to finish this year, and I’m off to a pretty good start.

I think it’s important to determine in advance what you hope to get out of your reading, and this is something I’m still working on.

But on a personal level, I know that I’m always searching for deeper truths. This goes hand-in-hand with the work I do with The Question.

On a career level, I’m always looking for tools and systems that will help me to streamline, automate, and become more efficient.

And in terms of serving people, I’m always looking for little tidbits that can help me help you.

Insights can come from a variety of different places – even unexpected places – which is why I think you need to identify open loops in your life, and then seek out answers in the material you take to.

Any thoughts? Feel free to leave a comment below!

Browse more book reviews

Reflecting on My 3 Theme Words from 2015

Reflecting on My 3 Theme Words from 2015

I heard somewhere that Chris Brogan chooses three theme words for every year. I can’t remember where – it might have been straight from the horse’s mouth.

I thought about it, and I liked the idea. So although I never actually mentioned it here on the blog, I chose three words for 2015.

They were:

  1. Profit
  2. Outreach
  3. Expansion

Let me explain what went into each of these words.


Quite simply, I wanted to make a profit with The Music Entrepreneur.

Not just revenue, which doesn’t account for expenses, but income over and above that, which would allow me to reinvest, pay myself, or save up.

So did I make a profit? I guess that depends on how you look at things.

If I were just to look at the eBook and course sales from 2015, I don’t think I was profitable. But if I take into account the fact that the existence of this site led to opportunities with the likes of Music Industry How To, yes, 2015 was definitely profitable.

Profit will not be a major focus for 2016, because I believe serving others will lead to the greatest rewards of all.


The idea here was to build new relationships, create more strategic partnerships, and get the word out about the site.

I used my monthly link roundps as a device to achieve this end. I linked to other people’s articles, and then pinged them letting them know that I had featured their article.

The results are a little suspect, but in general I would say that my audience has broadened, my traffic has increased, and I have created a few more closer working relationships, regardless of whether or not the thing that I thought would do the job did it or not.

I also connected with several new people on the podcast. This was totally worthwhile, and I would do it all over again.

In 2016, I will actually be focusing on this less. I will be building relationships, but I won’t be worrying about outreach as much. It seems to make so much more sense for my personality type and the way I work to focus on individuals rather than larger groups.


My goal here was to grow the site, build the audience, and offer more resources.

It’s pretty vague, I suppose, but I think I achieved that end. I released my new book in June, and many of the tools and guides you find on the resources page were also created in 2015. And as I said earlier, the organic traffic to the site has also been on the rise.

But expanding is a lot of work, and I already talked about the sometimes tiresome/tedious nature of episodic/serial content on the last episode of the podcast.

I’ll certainly be taking a different approach here in 2016, but I am definitely proud of what I was able to accomplish last year.

Bonus: My 3 Words For 2016

Here are my three theme words for 2016:

  1. Flow. Because I intend to spend longer stretches of time focused on one project (as opposed to jumping around from one task to the next), getting into a flow state more often is going to be key to my success this year.
  2. Create. I’m pretty clear on my goals for this year. I plan to dedicate my most productive hours (outside of work) to the completion of the projects outlined on that page. I also intend to, as much as possible, work on one thing at a time to see it to its completion.
  3. Helpfulness. I need to appreciate my own limitations more. I want to serve the world in the ways that I can, and worry less about the ways in which I can’t. I intend to create from the perspective of others so that I can add more value to them.

What are your three words for 2016?

Closing the Chapter on 2015

Closing the Chapter on 2015

I hope you had a wonderful 2015, but it’s time to embrace the New Year – 2016!

And if you don’t want to carry last year into the New Year, you need to take some time to process how 2015 went for you.

I already talked about how this process works in Closing the Chapter on 2014, and the questions Michael Hyatt asks himself to ring in a new year.

But in case you don’t remember, let’s take another quick look at what they are:

  1. If the last year were a movie of your life, what would the genre be?
  2. What were the two or three major themes that kept recurring?
  3. What did you accomplish this past year that you are the most proud of?
  4. What do you feel you should have been acknowledged for but weren’t?
  5. What disappointments or regrets did you experience this past year?
  6. What was missing from last year as you look back?
  7. What were the major life-lessons you learned this past year?

Without deliberating any further, I’m going to share my answers with you.

My Answers to the 7 Questions

1. If the last year were a movie in your life, what would the genre be?

  • Action. It was a fast-paced year packed with a lot of work activity, many meaningful moments and breakthroughs, and significant life events.

2. What were two or three major themes that kept recurring?

  • Opportunity. I have never been more in-demand in my life. A variety of opportunities came my way in 2015, and I kept saying “yes” to them – partly out of necessity, partly because of my passion for them.
  • Affirmation. I spent a lot of time talking about entrepreneurship with friends. Time and time again, I affirmed the direction I was heading in, and came to the same conclusion that this is what I need to do with my life.
  • Meaning. Until I started making the money I needed to “really live”, I wasn’t even sure what I was working towards beyond debt freedom. Now my vision is beginning to become more clear.

3. What did you accomplish this past year that you are most proud of?

4. What do you feel you should have been acknowledged for but weren’t?

  • Working out. I’ve been getting in shape. There’s been some acknowledgement, but not much.
  • Adding value to some of the companies I work for. Some have more than acknowledged my value, while others always just ask for more of me.

5. What disappointments did you experience this past year?

  • Not completely eliminating my debt. But I’m so close that it’s hardly a major disappointment.
  • Not getting paid for one of the gigs I played. It’s one thing to stop a show prematurely and acknowledge that it wasn’t a good fit with the venue – quite another to criticize the band for it’s lack of ability and screw them over.

6. What was missing from last year as you look back?

  • Rest. More than anything else, I probably should have taken one or two extended breaks. By the time the second or third week of December had rolled around, I was so overworked that I had multiple migraines (which were likely weather-related too). When you’re not financially stable, you sometimes forget to care for your personal well-being, but it’s still important.

7. What were the major life-lessons you learned this past year?

  • Focus. I’m looking for different results in my entrepreneurial life, and I know that if I keep doing what I’ve always done, I’ll keep getting what I’ve always got. I’m finally ready to try a new approach.
What Dragon Quest IV and Torneko Teach You About Building a Music Business

What Dragon Quest IV and Torneko Teach You About Building a Music Business

Well, it’s time to geek out again.

This isn’t the first time I’ve referenced popular media and the lessons you can learn from them, nor is it the first time I’ve mentioned video games here on the blog.

I’ve been playing through Dragon Quest IV on my Android smartphone as of late, and in chapter three, you get to play as Torneko Taloon, a weapons merchant with the dream of one day owning a shop.

And having recently played through this chapter again (I originally played this game as a child), I couldn’t help but notice how it provides better business education than most schools do.

Here’s what Dragon Quest IV and Torneko can teach you about building a business.


Torneko Taloon from Dragon Quest IV builds his own retail store

Torneko: a man with a dream. (Image: Dragon Quest Wiki)

When you’re trying to save up for something important, you don’t spend money unnecessarily. You don’t buy medicinal herbs when your wife Tessie (her name in the original Japanese release was Nene) provides you with a packed lunch on a daily basis, you don’t stay at an inn on your travels when you can sleep for free at home, and you don’t buy gear you can’t sell later.

Bootstrapping is all about cutting costs, saving money where you can, and avoiding unnecessary spending. When you have a clear vision for what you’re trying to achieve, you won’t part with your money easily. That determination is essential to building a successful business.

Don’t despise small beginnings

Torneko begins his journey in his hometown of Lakanaba, where he is employed at the local weapons shop. His daily earning potential is about 100 gold, unless he happens to buy more expensive weapons from the customers that come in and turn around and sell them to other patrons for a profit.

Torneko is afforded other small opportunities in and around Lakanaba. There is a senior man in town who will pay Torneko a small fee to “push” him to the church on a daily basis (about five to 10 gold). He can also journey out of town to fight monsters that drop a little bit of gold after they are defeated.

But because you are still inexperienced when you first begin your journey, you can’t venture too far from town. You may not be able to earn a lot of money off the bat, but every little bit counts.

Build your business after-hours

Working at the weapons shop is a decently efficient way to make money. There’s no reason to rush off and quit, but if Torneko wants to make his dreams of business ownership a reality, he has to be willing to put in more work after-hours.

If you never take a risk and venture forth, you’ll never make the connections and take the steps necessary to build a business. This is certainly true for Torneko, who must visit the mysterious village of Shinnock, the kingdoms of Ballymoral and Endor, as well as a couple of perilous dungeons.

If Torneko plays it safe and stays in the village of Lakanaba working for his boss, he’ll never have a business of his own.

Help people on the way to achieving your dreams

First, Torneko has to achieve peace between Ballymoral and Endor by delivering messages between the prince of Ballymoral, and the princess of Endor. And although the king of Endor gives him permission to set up shop after he plays the invaluable role of messenger, he has to raise 35,000 gold to buy a local retail space from a senior.

No sooner does he acquire his storefront when he has to raise another 60,000 gold to help another senior make his dreams of building a tunnel connecting the kingdoms of Endor and Casabranca a reality. Of course, the name of Torneko is on the lips of many after he achieves such feats.

Understand supply and demand

Torneko also helps the kingdoms of Ballymoral and Endor by supplying them with the gear they need. Ballymoral desperately needs good armor, and you can sell it to them at a premium when Torneko is in the process of raising capital for his venture.

The king of Endor asks you to supply him with six swords and six suits of armor after you set up shop in his kingdom. The reward is handsome, but as with any other task Torneko undertakes, it is not easily completed.

Sell your goods at the highest profit margin possible

In addition to the Ballymoral example already given, once Torneko has set up shop, his wife Tessie is able to sell goods out of their store at a higher premium. Torneko can focus on acquiring more inventory while his spouse sells it.

I don’t believe in gouging customers, but it’s important to understand value perception. When you price your products and services too cheaply, you’ll never be able to make enough money to survive and eventually thrive. Pricing is critical to your success.

Cultivate support from your family

Tessie sticks with Torneko through thick and thin. She marries him because he’s a big thinker, and believes in his ability to make their dreams a reality. She manages their store while he’s busy getting more stock. Their son is elated when Torneko makes good on his promise to start a business of their own.

If you want to succeed in business, you must cultivate support from your loved ones, and empower them in good times and in bad.

Final Thoughts on Dragon Quest IV & Torneko

Isn’t it amazing what games can teach you?

If you’d like to go deeper, playing this chapter of Dragon Quest IV may give you even more insights into business.

And what better way to learn than through a game?

What do you think? Have you played Torneko’s chapter in Dragon Quest IV? Do you think these business lessons are valuable?

Let us know in the comments section below.