Despite my greatest efforts, I sometimes have a hard time convincing people I am an entrepreneur and sole-proprietorship. Is it the fact that I am carrying a guitar case instead of a brief-case? Whatever the reason may be, I can assure you, self-employed musicians are indeed small-business owners, and this is a topic I am very passionate about.
Although talent and creativity are essential parts of being successful, it is integral that a musician is business-minded and takes the same steps as any other entrepreneur to ensure growth and sustainability. For example, whether you’re setting up a kick-ass cotton candy stand, or the CEO of the newest social media platform, or pitching yourself as an emerging artist, you’re going to need a business plan that considers the following:
*A PLAN OF ACTION- Short Term & Long Term Goals; Accountability
*A BUDGET- Tracking All In-Coming & Out-Going Funds; Planning For Future Investments
*STRATEGIC MARKETING- Consistent Social Media Presence: Engagement & Content
*A SUPPORTIVE TEAM- Mentors Who Are Willing To Help You Succeed
*WAYS TO TRACK PROGRESS- Data From All Ventures; Social Media Numbers
*NETWORKING CONTACTS- Collect & File Business Cards; Attend Networking Events
*VALUABLE PRODUCTS/SERVICES- Make Quality Content; Get Paid For Your Work
*POWERFUL BRANDING- Photos; Logo; Message; Be Consistent; Know Your Audience
*ETC.- Learn How To Pitch Your Business; Help Promote Others; Be Unique
These hurdles are the same for any business owner, and a musician must have all of these areas covered, especially with the pressures of such an ever-changing, competitive industry. Gone are the days when a team of professionals and mentors will scoop up undiscovered, raw talent and pay for their development. We, as self-employed musicians have to adapt to this Do-It-Yourself era and develop ourselves. Then, once you get the ball rolling, the people who discover you will not hesitate to jump on board when they see you have your business under control.
The sad truth is that even with proof of concept, musicians are a lot less likely to be funded by investors than entrepreneurs in other fields. That being said, I am so grateful that I live in a country where programs such as FACTOR and the Canada Council for the Arts offer a multitude of grants to artists. Without these initiatives, it would be very difficult to find financial aid, which is essential, as equipment and production costs are sky-high in this industry.
So although our networking meetings may be jam sessions, our office is usually our living room, and most of us will never be spotted in business suits, please remember that we, too, are entrepreneurs. After all, it’s called the music business for a reason.
Michelle Thibodeau is a Pop-Folk Singer-Songwriter from Moncton, New Brunswick, currently pursuing music as a solo artist in Toronto, Ontario. She is a 2012 graduate of the Canadian College of Performing Arts in Victoria BC, and this year she completed the Artist Entrepreneur Program at Coalition Music. On October 1st she released her new single, “Hey Hitchhiker” and has been playing around the Greater Toronto Area showcasing new songs for her upcoming projects.
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