The Musician As An Entrepreneur

Music Entrepreneurs

I wanted to kick off a series of guest posts on Evolving Music by taking a look at a mindset adaption that I truly feel is needed in today’s new music economy. The mental state that I see most artists that I speak with, read about or work with is the one that is looking for someone to take them from point A to point B because they are talented.

This approach can pose a real problem towards growing a business in today’s industry.

As a musician you need to compose a great sense of music/work/life balance. What this means is that your creative and artistic side needs to be nurtured and come first. Without hit songs there is no opportunity to advance in this business.

The next step is utilizing your available time to the best of your availability. We all want time to relax, kick back a few drinks or whatever vice/habits/daily rituals you have. The objective is to balance this out with actual work that is going to progress your music career. This includes playing out live, building local contacts, updating web properties, creating products, leveraging social networking sites, talking with fans and soaking in an education on technology and business.

This is where the mindset of an entrepreneur kicks in.

Think about it. Think about the brands and companies that you emulate. Their CEO’s and figure heads all work their asses of to accomplish a goal which is to essentially grow their company. Their focus is on many things – not just looking for the one investor who will dump in a bunch of money and let the entrepreneur cash out.

Assemble A Team

The next step in this mindset is to begin building and assembling a team to help you in the areas that you may be weak in or have no interest in. The cool thing is that there are a ton of web properties that can help you, and almost become a team member.

Think about MobBase. They are a web service that allows you to have an iPhone application. They act as a developer, hosting company and partner to push your music onto 40 million iPhones. Although they have branded themselves as a service to musicians, they are really a member of your team.

Other members may include graphic designers, marketers, booking agents, financial people and so on. These team members are there to support you and your efforts in growing your vision. There is not one single person that can handle and grow your entire business, but one you understand that to have a career with any type of longevity, you actually need a business.

Some Hard Ass Work

Your music/work/life balance is not an easy mental state to just sit on the couch and figure out. It’s something that requires a ton of time and effort. The artists that I see making the biggest investment in their careers are the ones that take responsibility for their entire career.

We profiled Rhymefest a few days ago over on GYRS. The guy has created a wealth of good music. This is where it starts. Now it’s all about awareness and monetization. He has crafted a pay-what-you want mixtape. He’s blogging. He’s on Twitter connecting with fans. He is using Facebook to connect with a different audience. He is playing live shows. He is reaching out to popular sites and providing quality conversations for their audience.

In short, he is taking responsibility for his success and his career. That is just one example of the entrepreneur mindset for the musician.

Over the next few weeks we will be exploring marketing and business ideas for your music career in this little guest writing feature. Big shout out to MixMatchMusic for letting me hang out over here and check out the video I shot with MixMatchMusic’s co-founder, Alan Khalfin, about iPhone apps, marketing and design. It came out really cool.

Till next time.

This post was written by Greg Rollett, a music marketing and digital entrepreneur from Orlando, FL. He is an advocate of the New Music Economy and has an awesome community of entrepreneurial minded musicians at Label 2.0. Follow him on Twitter, @g_ro to chat about the music game.

photo credit: Chris-Håvard Berge

8 Responses to “The Musician As An Entrepreneur”


  1. 1 Brian

    This is a really good article man. As a music producer myself passion can only take you so far. You have to really be about your business and treat as such. THanks for the inspiration.

    Brian

  2. 2 Cameron Kelly

    i am working hard to be a good Entrepreneur in online services. I also attend online seminars to sharpen may skills.~`.

  3. 3 D

    Good business smarts are useful, but online resources can distract, overwhelm and adversely effect ones musical output. Anyone with a mouse and lack of a need to sleep can be a hard-working internet hustla. Not everyone can make great music.

  4. 4 Greg Rollett

    @D – I see where you are coming from, but let’s be honest about 2 things.

    1. Musicians don’t spend all day everyday creating music. Far from it.
    2. Without business you can make all the music you want, even if its the greatest thing ever, but you will be sitting at a desk making someone else money.

    The great music is one thing. Getting people to hear it, and then pay for it is another. That takes work, and yes an Internet Hustla.

  5. 5 Enigmafon Records

    Interesting article, but to suggest that Rhymefest’s success is due to his internet efforts is totally erroneous.
    Rhymefest is not well know because of facebook or twitter.. he is well known because of his association with Kanye West and all the TV appearances he’s made
    To imply that *any* artist is going to have the same success as Rhymefest just by creating some music, a blog, using bandcamp, twitter and facebook is just disingenuous.

    There are thousands of musicians and bands with music, blogs, facebook and twitter pages and videos, and many are virtually unknown.

  6. 6 Greg Rollett

    @Enigmafon Records – It’s not because of the Twitter, blogs and Facebook. That is an extension of his brand and an outreach channel.

    These mediums are just a tool that can be used to assemble and communicate with your fanbase. It takes some hard ass work to make them work.

    How are you driving traffic, who are you making deals with, who are you networking with and leveraging. Rhymefest leveraged a lot. He is a hard ass worker, that is why he is successful.

    As for the thousands of musicians – they need to work harder.

  7. 7 Anne (Advertise a-holic)

    Actually the least you can do to make your music known is to do some marketing. Selling your music and even you as a product is what works in the end, no matter the medium, and that’s why I believe some of the comments seemingly oppossed are just faces of the same coin.

    You cannot have too much publicity, be it word of mouth or social media ‘bursts’.

  8. 8 Tim Kitchen (Entrepreneur Musician)

    The problems I see that most musicians face are to do with a sense of entitlement: “I’ve worked hard at my music so therefore someone should pay me’.

    Unfortunately for them, no one is going to magically come along and present them with a huge financial reward for putting in all those practice hours. The money is out there, but it’s up to the musician, as you say, to create products and a way of consuming this music in a way that people are happy to pay money for.

    The old days of the free ride courtesy of hard working and profitable record labels are gone. It’s now up to us to take responsibility for our own situations and HUSTLE!

    Check out Entrepreneur Musician for more :)
    Tim

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