This post is part of The Renegade Musician Series.
Being in service of your future self is a Stoic principle, but I think it’s something the Greeks and Romans got right. We shouldn’t become too preoccupied with satisfying our every whim and desire in the immediate. Accurate thinking dictates that long-term investments are not only wise, but necessary to fully enjoy our musical passions, and ultimately our lives.Long-term investments are not only wise, but necessary to fully enjoy our musical passions, and ultimately our lives. Click To Tweet
We can take this from a few different angles, so let me break it down.
Do Something Daily to Grow Your Music Career
Author Dan Kennedy says there are a couple of things he does daily without exception. One is to spend an hour writing his next book. The other is to do something to help him generate future business.
Today, Kennedy is 67 years old. He nearly lost his life in 2020. With ongoing health concerns, I don’t know whether he keeps to the same schedule anymore.
But I want you to think long and hard on this – what’s one thing you can do every single day that will lead to future opportunities in your music career?
There’s a good chance the answer will be connected to marketing, but it isn’t that obvious when you have a decided bias towards what works. Will the action lead to future opportunity? It should. But that doesn’t mean you can’t test and iterate.
Plan for Anniversaries
This is something I wish someone told me before I even got started in music.
Anniversaries in your music career come around much quicker than you might expect.
Five years. 10 years. 20 years. The milestones seem to breeze on by after a while. In just four years (as of this writing), my first solo album, Shipwrecked… My Sentiments will be 20 years old. Whoa. If I don’t start planning soon, I will miss a valuable opportunity to reprise it.
There isn’t much point in resurfacing releases that never had any traction. But if you have any releases that caught on with your fans, it would be well worth considering releasing a 10th anniversary version, possibly even 20th or 30th anniversary versions as you approach those key dates. Remaster the tracks, or even re-record them. Write a few bonus tracks in the style of that album and include them in the anniversary edition.
One of my early goals as a musician was to be prolific. I had friends who were releasing an album’s worth of new material each year, so I thought that’s what I should be doing too.
But music isn’t all about reinventing yourself. Remember the Pareto principle? 80% of your results come from 20% of your effort. For most artists, that means their first two to three albums.
Long after you’ve moved on, written other material, completed life works you had to scrape and claw for, fans will still be singing, and talking about, and wanting to hear, your first few albums, repeatedly.
To create something with artistic merit, you’ll want to continually reinvent, evolve, and be as prolific as possible.
But if you want to have a sustainable music career, it’s about showing up and giving the fans what they want – even if it means recycling old material, releasing the “same” album until you’re blue in the face (like AC/DC).
Also remember – you can get a ton of mileage out of a single song or release:
- Live version
- Acoustic version
- Electric version
- Electronic version
- Electronic remixes
- Updated 10th, 20th, 30th, and 40th anniversary versions
- Blues version
- Jazz version
- We could go on…
Save Up for Retirement
At 55 years of age, Glenn Jacobs is the mayor of Knox County in Tennessee.
But you will know him best as the seven-foot tall, 300-lbs. giant WWE wrestler, Kane, “brother” of The Undertaker.
There is a dark side to everything, including professional wrestling. There are plenty of wrestlers and stars that have gone broke since leaving WWE – Scott Hall, Lex Luger, X-Pac, Kamala, Sunny, Hulk Hogan, among others.
Sure, most have landed on their feet. But Kamala literally lost his feet – he had to get both legs amputated due to diabetes and high blood pressure. Ongoing medical treatments proved too costly, and they were too little too late. Within nine years of getting his first leg amputated, Kamala, or James Arthur Harris, left this world.
Jacobs knew all too well the fate of most athletes. In the NBA, you’re considered “over the hill” if you’re over 30 (if you forget, don’t worry, the commentators will remind you every few minutes). The legendary Michael Jordan retired for the second time from basketball, for good, after a short run with the Washington Wizards, at age 40. He likely would have kept going, though, if not for his knee injury.
There aren’t many opportunities in professional sports (especially in competitive sports) for anyone over 40, except for maybe special appearances, commercials, and endorsement deals. If one played their cards right, maybe they’d end up a commentator, coach, or owner of a team. But these are best case scenarios – exclusive jobs reserved for the most accomplished. Think of it this way – teams in the NBA can carry up to 15 players during the regular season, but every team only has one head coach. Reflect on that.
Jacobs decided to begin investing early, even appearing on The James Altucher Show to talk (very intelligently) about it. He knew that the wrestling gig wasn’t going to last forever. And, of course, he’s got his political career now.
Most of us don’t even want to face the idea that we will continue to age and one day may not be able to engage in our passions in the same capacity we used to. But time will pass. It’s a fact of life. If you do everything right, you can keep your health, your limbs, your figure, your mental faculties. But whether because of anxiety and depression, illness, accidents, physical and mental limitations, or otherwise, at some point, you may not be able to do what you’re able to do now.
We take it for granted that music is one of those rare professions in which you can play until the cows come home, like blues legend B.B. King. But this isn’t a guarantee.
Look, you may never “retire.” But there will come a season in your life where you’re living very differently than you are now. Your income earning abilities could end up being severely limited.
Think ahead. Invest in your future self. No one is too good to invest.Think ahead. Invest in your future self. No one is too good to invest. Click To Tweet
This is not a post about how to manage your personal finances and invest your income, but I don’t want to leave you to figure it all out for yourself either. From all the research I’ve done, the long and short of it is this:
Investigate life-cycle funds, also known as target date funds. They automatically allocate your funds across different asset classes and aim for aggressive growth while you’re young and adjust to a more conservative portfolio as you age.
Never rely on government-funded pension programs, superannuation, 401(k), company-funded retirement initiatives, or the equivalent. Accurate thinking dictates these will be gone, you won’t keep a job long enough for a superannuation or matching contributions to amount to much, or the funds you accumulate will be done and spent on emergencies before you can even leverage them later in life. Take advantage where you can, but these vehicles should not be thought of as secure retirement plans. You need a different investment vehicle to have a comfortable life in your waning years.
Disclaimer: This does not constitute financial advice, and Music Entrepreneur HQ and all affiliated parties are not responsible for financial damages or losses you sustain. Seek out qualified experts to determine which financial strategies to pursue.
Take advantage of The Most Incredible Back to School Sale while you still can.