I know there are circumstances outside of your control. Things happen in life.
But there are things you can do today to prepare for a rainy day. You can set aside 10% of your income. You can store up some extra food. You can seek out services that might come in handy down the line. Just because they aren’t needed today doesn’t mean they won’t be needed down the line.
Right habits don’t start tomorrow. They start today. So, even if you are in a crisis, make it your priority to adopt a long-term mindset. Speculate on what could happen and plan for it. Even if you don’t have all the steps figured out, you will be better prepared for the day something unexpected happens.
In developing a music career, I’ve really found it helpful to adopt an ownership mindset.
Another way of talking about this is taking an entrepreneurial mindset to your music career.
The employee mindset, which is what most people have, is this – it’s all about working for money and other people.
Trying to get a record contract is really the key example. It’s all about trying to work your way up the music artist pyramid so you can ultimately be the employee of a label. So, the label dictates the terms and tells you how you should do your work.
It certainly appears to be the best job available to artists, but with 360 deals, which typically take a cut of everything you make as an artist, and other types of contracts that don’t put the artist first, it isn’t always the most attractive option.
Now, I’m not down on record labels. They do a lot of things well, including marketing and distribution, even if they are fully a decade or two behind the times on things like digital marketing.
The point is that there are other ways of getting what you want in music. And by the time you’ve reached your goals, you’ll be in a position of power to choose what you want – whether it’s to continue as an independent artist, or to sign a contract with a label. Because staying independent might start to look more attractive by the time labels start courting you.
Labels aren’t very fond of signing bands and artists these days, though, so let’s just keep that in mind. Basically, the most desirable jobs in music as an artist aren’t easy to get.
An entrepreneurial mindset, on the other hand, is all about having money and other people work for you. And while it might seem a little intimidating, and sometimes an abstract concept, the truth is you’re doing some of this already, just that you need to be more deliberate in applying it in every part of your career.
For instance, if you’re distributing your music digitally, then you’re already having your money work for you.
You can have people and money work for you in a lot of other ways, too, whether it’s getting your fans to pre-save your new release, putting money into advertising, or having someone post to social media on your behalf.
In my current team, I’ve had team members write articles, create graphical banners, run our ad campaigns and more. It’s quite exhilarating when you’re working with people who have expertise or skills in areas you don’t.
A lot of artists don’t have an ownership mindset, so they end up blaming the lack of their success on a lot of external factors, whether it’s labels, managers, audiences, or the fact that bassist Mike was projectile vomiting on Tuesday.
And I get it. It’s altogether too common for artists to hire a manager or publicist and end up wasting money on press that doesn’t get them anywhere. It’s a sad reality, and there are some things I could say in defense of managers or publicists, but I really do empathize with artists because this has happened to a couple of dear friends of mine, and I never like to see that happen.
The key question I want to leave you with, though, is where can you take more ownership? Where can you be more intentional? Can you put together tracking sheets for your gigs or social media posts? What structures do you have that help you manage and track your effectiveness?
You can’t do it all at once, but you can implement a step at a time. And I would urge you to implement whatever it is you see is missing in your music career structures NOW.
For a proven, step-by-step framework in cracking the code to independent music career success, and additional in-depth insights into making your passion sustainable and profitable, be sure to pick up my best-selling guide, The Music Entrepreneur Code.
Realistic thinking has a way of being unrealistic at the best of times. Usually, it has you setting your sights on what you think is reasonable, and there is nothing reasonable with choosing business or a creative passion to begin with.
So, if you’re not choosing a reasonable path at the outset, why set your sights on what you think is a reasonable outcome? Business and creative passions require that you be unreasonable because the longer you stay with your passion, the more you realize reasonableness is just a story you made up – an illusion of the mind.
Accurate thinking is being aware of both the massive upside potential as well as the seemingly insurmountable challenges you may face on your business journey.
Expecting the best and preparing for the worst is accurate thinking.
And so, we eventually graduate from delusional excitement. And we’ll likely have learned many lessons on that path. There will have likely been more than a few letdowns too.
This is often where business becomes a grind. You can’t just graduate from excitement to accurate thinking in a vacuum. There are levels in between.
And as business becomes a grind, you may not see any results, even as you set your best foot forward, every single day.
At this point, it’s altogether too easy to draw the conclusion that all the time, effort, and money you’ve invested in yourself or your business was a waste. Nobody likes you, and even your dog thinks you’re smelly and gross. May as well pack up and go back to the dirty dumpster alley.
This, I would argue, is the right time to return to year one mentality. Pretend that you know nothing and become hungry for growth again. Move from hobby level commitment to business level commitment. Close the escape hatches, shut the backdoor, burn the ships, and move forward (and even fail forward) no matter what.
Shift your thinking from:
I hope this works….
This must work or else!
Who cares about what happened to this point? You weren’t in the game!
Now that you’ve burned the ships, you’ve moved from starting a business to being serious about your business. And that is the mindset you need to succeed.
When I came across this material, I was a musician just like you. I was not an entrepreneur.
All I wanted to do was play guitar all day, write songs, tour from town to town, and record.
I had done a bit of graphic and web design work on the side. I started a home studio. I had even gotten into personal development. But ultimately, I didn’t go into any of it thinking I was going to get excited about business.
I mean, sure, I always thought it would be great to make loads of money doing things I loved to do. But I figured that was inevitable. It would happen if I just kept at it.
I thought the good life would be making music, throwing around a basketball with my bandmates, writing some blog posts… that’s about it.
I Wasn’t Looking for a Business
So, I wasn’t looking for a business. Let me underscore this part.
Because I think this is the part many people don’t understand about my story. I didn’t just one day wake up and say, “hey guys, I’m the music entrepreneur!”
I WAS going through a major financial crunch, and that DID impact my decision. But if there was a way for me to take my music career from zero to hero without having to get into business, I would have done it!
I was all out of options and it was crushing.
I had no money, and as result, I had no time. I was working five terrible jobs, and sometimes found myself fighting for safe working conditions and even the money I was owed!
The occasional open mic, rehearsal, or gig was the only music in my life. I couldn’t dedicate any of my time or energy towards the thing I loved most.
Up until that point, I had plenty of time to sit, ponder, and discuss my future with my roommates. It wasn’t always easy trying to interpret life and my identity. But it was fun. Those were good times.
Suddenly and forcefully, this kid was confronted with a very adult problem. Ready or not. I was sledgehammered into a new world. I did NOT choose it!
But there IS a reason I got excited. And that’s what I wish to relay here.
You’re Not Supposed to do This
In 2011, I ended up joining two network marketing companies, right around the same time. You’re not supposed to do that!
This is largely what your upline mentors would consider a conflict of interest. And their greatest worry would be that you destroy their business by courting their downline and getting them to join your organization.
This would basically be the equivalent of agreeing to teach guitar at a studio, only to take the studio’s entire client base with you after quitting. This is frowned upon.
Fortunately for my upline, I wasn’t interested in that.
I was much more interested in the possibilities I was beginning to see because of some things Rich Dad Poor Dad author Robert Kiyosaki had said.
The Business of the 21st Century
Now, just so there’s no misunderstanding, Kiyosaki did not visit my home and share his message with me. Nor did I see him speak at a conference.
See, every network marketing organization (well, the good ones anyway) have training materials. And when you’re going through the evaluation process (no, your upline won’t just let you join because you’re excited – you’ve got to prove yourself), you’ll work your way through some of that material.
So, the audio that got me fired up was The Business of the 21st Century, named after the book of the same title. But it wasn’t anything like the book. It was more so Kiyosaki just sharing his mindset.
Most importantly, what resonated with me was the cashflow quadrant.
The Cashflow Quadrant
The cashflow quadrant is easy to understand.
On the left-hand side of the quadrant, you’ll see an E and an S. And on the right-hand side, you’ll find a B and an I.
E is for Employee.
S is for Self-Employed, Specialist or Solo.
B is for Business Owner.
And I for Investor.
We need this context for what I’m about to share.
My Experience with the Quadrant
Personally, I had only ever spent a few months as an E. But I was well-acquainted with being an S, as most musicians are.
As a self-employed, you’d probably engage in some of the things I’ve already talked about. Maybe you’d get into graphic or web design. Maybe you’d start a home studio. If you were good at writing, you hunted around for freelancing gigs.
This is what many of us associate with starting a business. And while a freelancing career can feel like a business and even grow into one, because it’s so reliant on you and your time, it’s basically like creating your own job.
But let’s get back to that breakthrough…
The Difference is Mindset
In the audio I mentioned earlier, Kiyosaki says a safe, secure, high-paying job for life is an obsolete idea.
As I watched my friends and extended social circle jump from job to job and spend enormous sums of money for a paper on the wall, I had no choice but to agree.
Kiyosaki goes onto explain that the mentality of a self-employed (S) is “If you want it done right, do it yourself.” I talked about why this can hold you back yesterday.
A business owner (B) is someone with 500 employees or $10 million in revenue. And as a B, your job is to spread the wealth to as many people as possible. Business owners also tend to pay less in taxes.
For those on the left-hand side of the quadrant, the more money you make, the more you pay in taxes. I have seen this firsthand. It’s not a pretty sight.
Employees and self-employed also tend to be bought into “conventional” wisdom.
Ever had someone tell you that a house is the best thing to invest in? And then the banks tell you to buy mutual funds. Am I right? Well, if you’re thinking in terms of wealth, Kiyosaki says this couldn’t be more wrong.
Inflation is another major factor affecting your income as an E or S. If you’re invested in the right things, you make money when inflation hits. Otherwise, you end up paying more for commodities.
Again, “conventional” wisdom says there’s no such thing as inflation, but I’m calling B.S. on that. Gas, groceries, and utilities seem to go up in price every few months, never mind every year!
I could go on, but to summarize, the biggest difference between the four quadrants is mindset. That means you can move from the left side of the quadrant to the right side of the quadrant by changing the way you look at the world.
Paradigm Shift, Conclusion
When you’re on the left side of the quadrant, you work for money and other people.
When you’re on the right side of the quadrant, you have money and people work for you.
As a musician, you’re obviously never going to be handing over the creative process. But that doesn’t mean you can’t have money and people work for you, especially when it comes to tasks you don’t enjoy, aren’t good at, and pull you away from working in your strengths.
Success is 80% psychology. So, by shifting our mindset, we can create expanded outcomes in our music careers.
It’s not about getting into business. That’s boring. Dumb. Stupid. Risky.
That’s not the opportunity I saw and it’s not what I got excited about!
What I got excited about was the possibility of creating the life I wanted through music. And that’s the vision I share with others every single day.
The Music Entrepreneur Code is my latest best-selling book, and it’s available here as well as on Amazon.