What You Should Look for in a Musician Coach

What You Should Look for in a Musician Coach

So, you’ve decided that hiring a musician coach wouldn’t be such a bad idea.

But what sort of qualities and qualifications should you look for in a musician coach?

If you know the following, it’s going to make the decision a lot easier.

So, ask yourself these questions when considering a musician coach:

Do They Ask Good Questions?

It may seem innocuous, but this is the most critical question you can ask.

A coach knows how to get out of their own way, listen attentively, and ask questions that change the way you see the world around you.

They will ask the questions you’re not asking, and by doing so, make you aware of blind spots, new perspectives, possibilities, opportunities, next steps, and more.

If your coach is doing all the talking, there’s something wrong. If they’re not asking questions, there’s something wrong. If they’re merely telling you what to do next, they still have much to learn.

A seasoned coach has had to generate results in situations where it was difficult if not impossible to do so. And they got there by asking powerful questions.

At the foundation of coaching is the ability to ask good questions.

Do They Have a Coach of Their Own?

The best coaches always have coaches of their own.

And if they don’t have a coach right this minute, they’re at least on a steady path of personal growth – reading articles and books, listening to podcasts, watching videos, taking courses, and generally investing in themselves and their knowledge.

If a coach doesn’t show any interest in self-development, they’re not going to make for a good coach.

Look for signs that they’re committed to being lifelong learners.

Do They Have a Website?

While creator economy apps like Koji are near omnipotent in their capabilities, the potential downside is that anyone can set up a free account, buy followers, and claim to be an expert on a topic.

A true coach might have a link in bio, but they wouldn’t balk at investing in the creation of their own regularly updated website. In fact, they would prioritize it.

Whether it’s domain names, web hosting, logo design, videos, blog posts, or otherwise, they’re not afraid to set forth the financial resources and time necessary to develop their brand.

A coach that’s invested in their online presence treats their job with a degree of seriousness others simply do not.

Do They Have a Book?

A book isn’t necessarily a requirement, but it does say something about a coach, namely that they’ve gone to the trouble of documenting their best tips and advice in written form.

Writing a book is a commitment. It’s at least 10 times the length of any term paper you’ve written in college.

A coach with a book better understands the dedication, discipline, and commitment required to make an album, because writing a book is just as extensive if not more so.

The other reason a book is valuable is because you can learn about the coach’s methodologies before even hiring them. At 20 bucks a pop, you really have nothing to lose.

Plus, if you take the time to read, you’ll be more committed to the process and get more out of the coaching. You’ll make for a better client, and that improves the coach-mentee relationship!

Do They Have Systems?

Sure, there are times when a coach needs to throw away the scripts, ditch the templates, abandon their methodologies, and get in the dirt with their clients.

We’re all human, after all!

But if a coach doesn’t at least have a battery of questions they use to better understand your circumstances and guide your next steps, are they honestly any better than an unpracticed bassist that “wings it” at a gig?

Coaches should have systems – be it video conferencing software (Zoom, Google Meet, or otherwise), PDF document templates, notes on their clients (along with a filing system), or otherwise.

You don’t want to be shooting from the hip as a client, and a coach shouldn’t be either! If they’re coaching you, they should be in the right environment with the right resources and processes to serve you to the best of their abilities.

Do They Have Demonstrated Results?

I need to say something that’s a little paradoxical here, but it is important.

A coach doesn’t necessarily have everything you want in life.

After all, they specialize in coaching, not in being a successful artist (that’s your job!).

They may have demonstrated results in their own career. It never hurts.

But what we’re talking about here is demonstrated results in the careers of others.

A coach needs to be able to help her clients first and foremost. If she can’t do that, it doesn’t matter what results she has in another area!

A coach always leaves his clients in a better position than where they started. Look for evidence of that.

Do They Have Quotes / Testimonials from Past Clients?

Quotes, testimonials, and reviews are always worth checking, and this goes hand in hand with demonstrated results.

There’s one major thing you should be aware of concerning social proof, though:

First is that even if a coach doesn’t have many reviews, it’s not necessarily a bad sign.

Ask yourself how many times you’ve left reviews on Amazon, Google, iTunes, or otherwise.

Unless it was a mind-blowingly amazing or mind numbingly horrendous experience, you probably aren’t compelled to leave a lot of reviews in the first place.

The point is – people don’t just hand out reviews like they’re candy, and even superb coaches don’t always have drawers full of references.

The other thing that’s good to be aware of is that reviews can and have been manufactured.

It sucks that I even need to bring it up, but some “coaches” out there claim to have taught fictional superheroes according to their website. Sorry, just no.

Obviously, the reviews you find on a coach’s website are going to be talking up the coach. No competent coach is going to use negative reviews on their site.

But complete fabrications are worth looking out for.

Final Thoughts

There are other questions you can ask to determine whether a coach is right for you, but the above should serve as an excellent starting point.

If they have a 15-minute free consultation or something of that nature, you could take advantage of that…

Or you could email or call them for more info as needed.

But don’t overthink it and let yourself get off the hook without deciding, that is, unless you want to go back to the rut, you’re trying to crawl your way out of.

Leave a Space

Leave a Space

Take a break or keep pushing forward?

For the entrepreneur, this decision is never an easy one.

Regardless of the circumstance or our general wellbeing, our default state is to keep pushing ahead.

When we do that, though, we’re not present to our state of being.

We don’t get to bring our full self to our work. We don’t get to contribute at the level we know we can contribute, and we don’t get to be contributed to either.

Taking a step back creates a space for others to step in.

And this is also a test of the structures you’ve set into place to this point. If your team isn’t big enough, or your systems are insufficient, others may not show up in the way you expect them to. But whether you’re prepared or not, this is something an entrepreneur should experience.

So, next time you’re faced with the hard choice of taking a break when you feel like you should push through whatever you might be facing, be in discovery of what it’s like to step back. Leave a space for others to step in.

Cash Flow for Artists: What You Ought to Know

Cash Flow for Artists: What You Ought to Know

And so, we arrive at a rather difficult subject.

Cash flow seems completely obvious and an easy field to navigate, only to entrepreneurs with no experience worth talking about.

“Earn more than you spend,” they say, which is not incorrect, but it doesn’t demonstrate a deep understanding of a potentially devastating issue, especially if you don’t constantly have your finger on the pulse of your career or business.

You can keep your project afloat so long as you have access to cash, but the moment that runs out, and your expenses exceed your revenue, it’s game over.

And it’s not always obvious how or why this happens. That’s the most challenging part.

I hope you never have to face that. But we know full well that even our heroes have gone through rejection and failure – in most cases, more than we even know!

So, while I don’t claim to have a foolproof method, here’s what I’ve learned about cash flow issues and how to solve them:

When Revenue isn’t Keeping Pace with Expenses

This is perhaps the most basic, most common cash flow problem (which doesn’t mean it’s easy to solve).

Even though your cumulative revenue is greater than your total expenses… because your expenses are piling up faster than your income, you’re having trouble meeting ongoing expenses.

As you can see, the plain logic of “earn more than you spend” isn’t going to apply here, and if anything, it’s going to stifle your efforts to resolve the issues at hand.

The solution here would be to control the flow of income and expenses. And, I’m not going to lie, some of this can be uncomfortable.

On the income side, invoice your clients early, take pre-orders, increase your rates, increase the frequency of purchases, and if possible, get paid upfront for your work.

On the expense side, negotiate with your suppliers and reduce the velocity or frequency of payments. Cut services you don’t need or find more affordable replacements. See if you can work out a bulk order deal or move to an annual plan instead of a monthly plan.

Rapid Growth Usually isn’t Sustainable or Profitable

We’ve already asked the question, “are you ready for a million streams?

And the answer is if you don’t already have the right structures in place, you’re not.

Rapid growth seems like a dream come true, the very thing you’ve been waiting for your whole life. And yet, it can derail your project just as quickly as it can boost it. There’s a reason a lot of growing artists sign with a label.

Think about it. With rapid growth, you can be bombarded with emails and calls, customer support inquiries, media requests, bugs that need to be fixed (payment processing, refunds, overloaded servers), and more. And people generally expect these things to be resolved at the drop of a hat.

It’s one thing if you know how to handle growing demand. Quite another if you end up taking random stabs in the dark.

Rapid growth usually isn’t sustainable or profitable because you need to onboard and train new team members to meet the demand. Which isn’t to say you can always control growth, and that’s the troublesome part.

The only solution here is to educate yourself on the following before demand gets out of hand…

Leverage the Power of Structures & Systems

“I’ll just hire people once things get crazier,” said only the greenest of entrepreneurs.

One of your greatest expenses is bound to be team, and for good reason – they are just as much an asset as they are an expense.

But onboarding and training alone can be quite expensive, never mind the cost of turnover and having to replace departing team members.

Even the most experienced people are going to need direction, get a good sense of what you’re about, and have a clear understanding of your needs before they’re going to be 100% effective on your team.

The good news is that even small teams can be incredibly effective if they have the right structures and systems in place. In every enterprise, there are ongoing opportunities to eliminate, automate, and delegate.

With the right tools, you can systemize your operations to run more efficiently, and that means major savings.

But that doesn’t mean it’s going to be easy. I’ve interviewed some entrepreneurs who had to work evenings and weekends (on top of their regular workload) just to get their systems in place.

The good news is, whatever cash flow problems you might be facing, there are answers if you’re willing to go look foring them. And, sometimes, you will need to pay for good advice. That’s accurate thinking.

Quick reminder – you can now get The Music Entrepreneur Code – 2022 Edition (just in time for the holidays). Don’t get left behind – be the first to get my latest work into your hands!

How Frameworks Will Skyrocket Your Productivity in Music

How Frameworks Will Skyrocket Your Productivity in Music

I have frameworks for a variety of things, especially the work I engage in daily.

I have Photoshop templates for website graphics.

I have a marketing checklist for my podcast.

I have a step-by-step process for the blog articles I write.

These frameworks take the guesswork out of the steps involved at each stage. They allow for increased consistency, efficiency, accuracy, predictability, and productivity in everything I produce.

It might seem like frameworks would prove antithetical and even restrictive to the creative process, but I have found the opposite to be true.

If I’m trying to come up with an article idea, I’d much rather draw from a well of ideas already generated than go back to the drawing board every time. That’s just reinventing the wheel, and I’m not smart enough to figure that out.

More to the point:

In a world with unlimited options, we’re often stymied by decision paralysis.

In a world with unlimited options, we’re often stymied by decision paralysis. Click To Tweet

What if I said to you: “Write a song about anything and have it done by tomorrow?”

Sure, you’d eventually formulate an idea and start putting the pieces of the song together. But you’d probably need to spend a lot of time at the brainstorming stage before even putting the first lyric down on paper.

Meanwhile, if I asked you to write a song about eating cotton candy at the amusement park on a sunny Saturday, that would be a completely different kind of prompt, wouldn’t it? With the subject matter determined, the only thing to do would be to write lyrical and musical content that fits the subject matter.

There are things you do on a recurring basis – setting up new releases on digital distribution sites, updating your website, writing social media posts… Can you see that each of these activities need to be done on a recurring basis and would benefit from frameworks?

Even if you choose not to put any limitations on your creativity (I’m not here to tell you what to do), there are a myriad of other things you do where templates, checklists, and processes would make a big difference.

These days, I even have templates for the books I write. It eliminates the need to create the same sections all over again – title, copyright information, dedication, table of contents, introduction, etc.

I understand that creating systems takes take away from things you’d rather be doing. But I’d encourage you to do something in service of your future self. Set up your systems now so you can be more effective in the time that follows.

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.

Creating Simplicity in Your Music Career

Creating Simplicity in Your Music Career

In 2019, I decided to begin living nomadically. My adventures were ultimately cut short by the pandemic (I’d managed to explore some of western Canada and northwestern States), but I still ended up leaving Calgary, where I had lived for over 20 years, and ended up moving to Abbotsford, BC.

This move did not go smoothly. But if I wanted to live nomadically, I knew I needed to make certain sacrifices.

So, I bagged up the closet full of clothes I had collected over the years, keeping only what I considered “essential” and would fit in my suitcase.

To my surprise, I ended up filling five garbage bags with clothes I barely used or didn’t need anymore, and I donated them.

And I followed a similar process with all my belongings, some of which ended up in storage at my parent’s house.

I had already minimized my belongings during the previous move, but this time I had to be even more selective, because I knew would be driving to BC with only what would fit in my car.

And this is not merely about minimalism or optimization. The key is really that:

The less you have, the less encumbered you are.

Sounds obvious, I know. But we sometimes forget just how burdened we can become in the endless pursuit of stuff and all the trappings that are supposed to go along with success.

What I’m really pointing to is simplicity.

This doesn’t mean you don’t have complex systems, marketing strategies, or songs.

But when it comes to execution, optimizing our work environment, even setting up our workflow inside our Digital Audio Workstation (DAW), simplicity creates performance, performance creates traction, and traction creates momentum.

Simplicity creates performance, performance creates traction, and traction creates momentum. Click To Tweet

Simplicity minimizes confusion. It creates clarity, predictability, and consistency. It allows you to get to your desk at 8:01 AM and have your blog post done by 9:13 AM on the dot.

And when you’ve optimized to that point, you can bet that more opportunities will show up at your doorstep. Your phone will start ringing.

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.