066 – Managing Your Money as a Musician

Are you finding it difficult to manage your money as a musician? Do you have a system you follow, or do you just wing it?

In this episode of The New Music Industry Podcast, I reveal the steps I’ve taken to manage my finances, and what has worked for me.

Podcast Highlights:

  • 00:14 – Disclaimer
  • 00:32 – Tips for managing your personal finances
  • 02:13 – Percentages are your friend
  • 02:42 – Tips for managing your business or career finances
  • 03:23 – Final thoughts

Transcription:

Thanks for joining me. Today I want to talk about managing your money. Now, I’m not an accountant or financial expert or anything, so please seek professional advice if you’re looking for more qualified advice on this topic. These are just a few things I’ve picked up over the years and I’m sharing them in hopes that they will benefit you.

First, I’ll address personal finances. I would suggest setting up three different buckets of savings. The first is your emergency fund. This is where you should save roughly six to nine months of your expenses, whatever amount that you’re personally comfortable with if you needed to fall back on it at some point.

The next is your guilt-free entertainment fund. We tend to put off a lot of things in life and delay gratification. That’s fine if you’re working towards a specific goal. But ultimately, we never know when we’re going to be done here, so you should go and have fun while you can still have it. That’s what this fund is for. Whatever it is that you want to do now, whether it’s a vacation or weekend outing, you want to use the money that’s in your entertainment fund to go and do that sooner rather than later.

The last one is your aggressive growth fund. With your emergency fund and entertainment fund squared away, the only thing left to do is invest your money. A lot of people are naive and assume they will never need to invest, that’s simply not the case. The sooner you can begin saving, the better I find. If you already have an emergency fund, you’re basically playing with money that you’re okay to lose and that’s really the best position to be in when you’re investing.

If you could pay into each of these funds regularly, that would be ideal, but I haven’t found that to be easy. So, I would suggest starting with your emergency fund. And once that’s a built up, gradually put money into your entertainment and aggressive growth fund. I would suggest saving at least 10% off the top of every paycheck, 20% if possible. As your income goes up, you’re going to be paying more taxes, so you want to be prepared for tax season and not be caught off guard or be taken by surprise.

One more thing I will say before moving into business or career finances is “percentages are your friend”. I like working with percentages a lot. For instance, after a check is deposited into my account, I will take 10% of that to pay down one credit card. I will take 10% of that to pay down another credit card. And I will immediately save 10% or 20% off the top, but that still leaves me with 60% to 70% of the lumpsum for my daily expenses.

When it comes to personal finances, percentages are your friend. Share on X

Now, let’s talk about business or career finances. First of all, I suggest opening a no-fee bank account, not a business bank account, which can be costly. If possible, pay all your earnings as a musician into this no-fee bank account. You can still pay yourself out of the lumpsum, but it’s important to save as much as you can, because there are many expenses associated with running a music career.

Also, you should effort to pay all your career related expenses out of this no-fee bank account. That way, you’re never going into debt, and you’re never overextending yourself unnecessarily. You just look at the amount that you have in your account and that’s the amount you have to spend.

If you master these simple tips, I believe you’ll be well on your way to establishing a strong financial foundation for your life and your career.

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065 – How to Streamline Your Life to Support Your Career as a Musician or Music Entrepreneur

065 – How to Streamline Your Life to Support Your Career as a Musician or Music Entrepreneur

Do you find yourself trying to do too many things? Do you easily lose track of time and find yourself unable to manage your to-do list?

In this episode of The New Music Industry Podcast, I discuss how you can simplify your routine to get more of the right things done.

Podcast Highlights:

  • 00:14 – We tend to make life more complicated than it needs to be
  • 00:42 – Tips on how to get some time back to focus on your creativity
  • 00:48 – #1: Eliminate unnecessary clutter
  • 01:38 – #2: Be willing to make sacrifices
  • 02:24 – #3: Map out your ideal schedule
  • 03:11 – #4: Transition from a day job to freelance work
  • 03:42 – #5: Become a student of productivity

Transcription:

Thanks for joining me. Today, I want to talk about how to streamline your life. Look, we tend to make life far too complicated sometimes and we get ourselves into a mess. The less you have to do, the easier it is to focus on the things you need to do.

The less you must do, the easier it is to focus on the things you need to do. Share on X

But so often we spread ourselves too thin with a ton of projects, a massive to-do list, and social obligations. I’ve had the privilege and honor of helping a few people find a better balance between their work and creative life. So, here are a few tips on how to gain some time back to work on your music career or business.

#1: Eliminate Unnecessary Clutter

Now, you might have garbage or stacks of paper or Knick Knacks just sitting around and they need to be sold or thrown out or done away with, but clutter isn’t always just physical. It can also be emotional and mental.

We carry a lot of thoughts with us, and sometimes other people occupy our minds and we tend to dedicate too much energy and time to thinking about them and not enough time to think about ourselves and our own life.

So, if you have any half-finished projects, decide what you’re going to do with them. If you’re getting two hundred texts per day from your friends, decide whether that interaction is worthy of your time. If you have a friendship or relationship in your life that’s not serving you, then decide whether that’s something that you want to keep in your life long term. You’ll feel a huge sense of relief when you clear the clutter in your life. And, your brain will start to clear too.

You'll feel a huge sense of relief when you clear the clutter in your life. Share on X

#2: Be Willing to Make Sacrifices

I remember my business mentors used to say, “If you’re willing to do it, you may not have to.” Over the years, I haven’t had any aversion to giving up things like TV, video games, and sometimes even sleep if it meant that it would help me move closer towards my goals.

Now, I don’t think we need to be extreme when it comes to making sacrifices. But, if your bills are too high then you may need to sell your house or your car and downgrade. Although exercise is good, maybe spending twenty hours at the gym every single week isn’t what you need right now to help you simplify your life. If you’re working nine to five and then come home and watch Netflix for the rest of the night, you may want to cancel your Netflix subscription, even temporarily, so you can focus on the creative work that you know you should be doing.

#3: Map Out Your Schedule

I think it’s idealistic to think that we could have a perfect week every single week, but we can at least map it out, set it in front of us, reference it often, and take actions that help us move in that direction.

I would suggest opening a spreadsheet and mapping everything out hour by hour exactly what it is that you’re going to be doing, and what you need to do to advance your career, be healthy, live a great life.

Life gets a lot simpler when you have a routine you live by, because you don’t have to think about it anymore.

Think of Steve Jobs. He always wore the same outfit. That’s so he didn’t have to dedicate unnecessary time and mental resources to thinking about what he was going to wear that day. When you have a routine, you don’t have to think about what you’re going to do that day. You’re just going to go and do it.

#4: Transition from a Day Job to Freelance Work

This may not apply to everybody listening today, but a day job is often low paying, unfulfilling, and life sucking. These days, if you’re skilled at what you do, you can get paid a lot more in a lot less time doing freelance work. Wouldn’t it be amazing if you could make more money and get some time back to focus on your creative work? I think it’s important to make a living, but should the best hours of your day be dedicated to it every single day? Personally, I like the freedom of freelance and entrepreneurial work.

#5: Become a Student of Productivity

There are a ton of articles, podcast episodes, and videos out there talking about how to be more effective and productive in your life. Dig into these and learn from them. Apply what you learn. It’s not just about getting more done. It’s about getting the right things done in your life.

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064 – Getting Your Mindset Right as a Musician

064 – Getting Your Mindset Right as a Musician

A strong mindset is essential if you want to achieve big things in your music career. Sometimes, moving forward in your endeavors is a test of the will, and your mindset will determine how far you make it.

In this episode of The New Music Industry Podcast, I share several questions that will help you assess how strong your mindset is right now.

Podcast Highlights:

  • 00:14 – Getting your mindset right
  • 00:45 – Having a strong mindset begins with a healthy body
  • 01:15 – Questions to help you guide your thinking
  • 01:22 – Long-term thinking
  • 02:18 – Commitment to success
  • 02:52 – Your social circle
  • 03:36 – Where your time is going
  • 04:14 – Managing your time
  • 04:42 – Experimentation and iteration
  • 05:43 – Building a strong mindset

Transcription:

Thanks for joining me. Today, I wanted to look at something that doesn’t often get talked about in the music industry, which is getting your mindset right. I believe that your mindset will determine what level you will rise to in your life and your career. That’s how important it is.

Everybody has challenges in life. As you go along your own music career, you’re going to encounter some obstacles as well. The strength of your mindset will determine your willingness and ability to push through when things are difficult. Guaranteed there will be some difficult times ahead.

One thing I would like to address before I get into the meat of this episode is just that it’s difficult to have a strong mindset when you’re exhausted emotionally and physically. You must take care of yourself first. You could say that having a strong mindset begins with taking care of your body.

Having a strong mindset begins with taking care of your body. Share on X

If you’re burnt out right now and you try to push through with willpower, you’re going to discover that everything is going to be that much harder to do. If you were well-rested and in a good mental state, you will find it much easier to do the same tasks.

Here are few questions to help you guide your thinking in terms of the strength of your mindset.

Are you thinking long term? Do you have a five-year or even ten-year goal for your career? Most of the time, in life and business and in our career endeavors, we’re only focused on the present. I don’t have a problem with that. I think we should live in the present as much as possible. But when you’re trying to do something difficult, like build a sustainable and profitable music career, you must have a long-term mindset. That goes for business too. If you don’t have goals and a plan to achieve them, you need to ask yourself why, because chances are you’re still leaving the backdoor open so you can escape if you need to.

I’m not saying that we should be so stubborn that we’re not willing to adjust our strategy as we go, because oftentimes that is a necessary part of working towards the fulfillment and achievement that we’re looking for. But if you’re not thinking ahead, and you’re simply leaving a lot to chance, and you’re failing to plan which is a plan to fail.

Here’s my next set of questions. Are you committed to your success no matter what? Are you willing to make the necessary sacrifices to get to where you want to go? This goes hand in hand with having a long-term mindset. You’re going to grow over time as an individual and as an artist. Things that may appear difficult today could become much easier a couple of years down the line. Somebody with a strong mindset is always going to be committed to their personal success because they understand that nobody else is more invested in it that they are.

Here’s the next set of questions. Are you associating with the right people? Do they lift, support, and encourage you? Or do they criticize you and put you down? Everywhere you look, the “crabs in the bucket” mentality is prevalent, just as one person attempts to rise above and get out of the bucket, another crab just pulls them right back down.

Both in my coaching and personal relationships, I’ve seen some of the effects that association can have on your life, so associating with the wrong people will drag you down and exhaust you over time. A lot of people seem to like drama and want to make something out of everything, so while this is a hard question to ask yourself, you really need to look at whether the relationships you have are serving you.

Next, are you dedicating enough time to your creative work? Is your time getting eaten up by marketing, the business aspects of your career, social events, or other time-wasting activities? Whether you’re a musician or a music entrepreneur, you must dedicate time to your creative work and not let other things take president over it.

I’m not talking about anything here that I haven’t struggled with myself. Because as an author, the main thing that I need to work on is dedicate time towards completing my next book. But life happens, and things get in the way, so it’s important to be strategic about when you plan to work on it and sit down and work on it when you’ve planned to do it.

Next, are you studying how to better manage your time? Are you putting those strategies into practice? Time management is a subject I’ve covered on the blog before. The key point here being that you should be studying time management principles, especially early on in your career. Because if you constantly find yourself whining and complaining about having enough time, the reality is we all have the same 24 hours in a day, you’re just not using your time as effectively as you could be.

Finally, are you experimenting and iterating with your creative work? Are you gradually building towards a product your fans will love? Are you trying the same things expecting different results? It’s kind of funny when it happens, and it’s always easy to identify when others are doing it. But sometimes we stubbornly insist on our way because we believe the creative work that we are doing is the greatest thing on the planet.

Five or 10 years later, we’re still doing the same thing and we don’t have any more fans than when we started because we’re not doing anything people care about. I’m not necessarily talking about selling out or drastically changing the way that you go about your creative work.

What I am saying is try putting 10 songs out there and see which ones get the greatest response. Then, make more songs like them. Your next series of 10 songs should be more like the ones that got the most response the first time around. If you keep that up, it’s only natural that you’re going to make progress in your career, and you’re going to start to make more fans along the way.

So, do you have any thoughts on how to build a strong mindset? I look forward to seeing your comments in the show notes.

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063 – SEO for Musicians: The Best Tips & Tricks I’ve Come Across

063 – SEO for Musicians: The Best Tips & Tricks I’ve Come Across

Search engine optimization isn’t everything, but it can still be an important aspect of your digital marketing as an artist or band.

In this episode of The New Music Industry Podcast, I share some of the best SEO tips and tricks I’ve come across.

Podcast Highlights:

  • 00:14 – Search engine optimization for musicians
  • 00:20 – How people generally find bands
  • 00:38 – SEO tips and tricks
  • 00:49 – Building your website
  • 02:24 – Listing your tour dates on your site
  • 03:10 – Your branded keywords
  • 03:47 – Links – internal, outbound, inbound
  • 05:40 – SEO can be complicated
  • 06:11 – Resources referenced

Transcription:

Thanks for joining me. Today I want to talk about SEO or Search Engine Optimization for musicians. Generally, people don’t find artists or bands via search engines. They first learn about you via word-of-mouth, social media, streaming sites like Spotify, YouTube, at venues and so forth, and only then do they search for you using a site like Google.

Here are some worthwhile tips and tricks I’ve come across. SEO for musicians is important despite the fact that it may not be how people find you in the first place.

My first tip is to build a website. You’ll want to refer to episode three of the podcast with Ross Barber of Electric Kiwi to learn more about the importance of having a website as a musician.

When people search for you online, the first thing they should see in the search results is your website. So, building your way towards the number one position in Google may take time, especially if you already have established social media profiles, because those can sometimes be prioritized in search results.

But blogging is a good way to boost your rank overtime. If you keep updating your website with fresh content and pay attention to the keywords you’re using in your tittles, over time Google should recognize you as the authority on the content that you create as a band or artist.

Building a sitemap for your website is always a good idea. This is a page on your website that basically offers your visitors an overview of the different pages they can find on your site. Every primary page on your website should be highlighted on the sitemap.

Make sure your website loads fast and is mobile responsive. This is another important point as far as search engine optimization is concerned. Generally, just keep your site updated. If you are regularly touring and then keeping in contact with your fans, this should be relatively straightforward.

And one last thing you can do is to hold on to your domain name. It seems Google over time trusts domain names that have been registered to the same person for many years. So, aged domains tend to be pretty good as well.

Another thing you should definitely do is list your tour dates on your website. Google seems to place an importance on specific days and times when events are being held and will sometimes prioritize them in search results as well.

Be sure to optimize the tittle of your tour page. Don’t just call it “Tour”, because that’s not necessarily what people are looking for. Call it something more descriptive, like “View Upcoming Tour Dates and Purchase Tickets”. This result more closely reflects what people are searching for, and also lets them know they can purchase tickets on your tour page.

Creating separate pages for each of your tour dates can also help with SEO, but make sure those pages contain valuable information. If you’re using one of the AudioTheme WordPress themes, they automatically create separate pages when you add a gig date.

Another important consideration is your branded keywords. Your band or artist name should be considered a branded keyword, so make sure it’s unique and not something that’s already out there online. The names of your band members, the name of your albums and songs, the lyrics to your songs, and other relevant words can all be considered branded keywords that you should emphasize on your website.

Try to see things from the perspective of people who are searching for you. They are probably interested in your tour dates and lyrics and specific songs, so creating pages around those specific branded keywords can help your SEO as well.

Now I’m going to talk a little bit about the power of links. Links are important in a number of ways. One of them is internal links. Basically, you want to link between different relevant pages and blog posts. This passes a little bit of link juice onto relevant pages on your website that have something to do with the topic that you’re discussing. It’s important to link naturally.

The next category would be outbound links, and Andrew Dubber of New Music Strategies suggests linking to other similar websites, especially bands or artist that may be similar to you. I don’t know how applicable this is today, but his theory is that this sends a signal to Google about the type of website that you have, so it could help on that level.

And then there’s inbound links, which has been a major topic in the SEO community as of late. Basically, you want to get as many links as you possibly can pointing to your website, especially from high-quality sources. I think this is probably another topic for another time, but for starters, you can have all your social media profiles point to your websites, whether it’s from Facebook, Twitter, SoundCloud or another site.

Another great thing you can do is get your music reviewed by music bloggers, since they will likely link to your site. It can be helpful to register your band with as many relevant music and social media sites as possible, including Wikipedia. This gives you a way to point more inbound links to your site.

When people search for you band in search engines, the first few pages could be dominated by relevant results. Naturally this is an effort-intensive process, so if you don’t have the resources or the manpower to be able to do it, then it’s not something that you want to put all of your time and attention and focus on.

Ultimately, SEO is kind of complicated. It would be a full-time job keeping up with all the changes. As search engines continue to update their algorithms, best practices will also change. Old spammy tactics just don’t work anymore, and the best approach is just to create quality content that your visitors will likely be looking for.

Now, there is so much more I could cover here, but you may be overwhelmed already, so I will talk more about SEO on another occasion. There are a couple of resources I referred to in creating this podcast episode. The first is an article by Moz which is Music SEO – 7 Lessons in Brand Optimization for 2015. This gets into a lot of detail and can be a very handy guide. Another is a little bit of an older eBook but still a good one. The 20 Things You Must Know About Music Online by Andrew Dubber. To learn more about SEO tools, you can check out the definitive SEO tools and software list.

That’s all from me for now. I look forward to sharing more in the next episode.

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