The biggest benefit of being a musician is that if you love every minute of what you do, then you feel like you’ve never worked a minute in your life.
Every musician is an entrepreneur! We all have “portfolio careers” because typically a successful musician has multiple outlets for creation, expression and very importantly, revenue generation. Take the process of songwriting for instance. That itself involves multiple individual career paths. One has to do the job of a lyricist when penning the words, a composer when writing the melody, a programmer/arranger when figuring out how and what instruments and sounds go into the song, a singer or sessions player when laying down one’s vocals or any instrument one might play, a sound engineer when recording instruments and mixing it all together, a music producer when one puts together the complete sonic package with the target audience in mind, an artist manager when one makes distribution deals for that song, an agent when one books a gig to perform that song and in the end the performing artist when one does the final gig. The best part is that everyone is unique and one has to focus on which part of this process one resonates with the most, and then partner or associate yourself with others who resonate with the other parts of the process. In this way, one can create one's own mini-ecosystems for potentially successful and long careers.
So here’s what I think it takes to be a MUSICPRENEUR:
An unending drive to creatively express yourself
Whatever role you play in the journey, you will have to say something that someone wants to listen to. In the business of creativity, it’s always important to have a unique voice. The good news is that we are all essentially completely unique individuals. Identify what makes you different for people to want to notice you and listen to you. This process can never stop and doesn’t really ever need to, because our individual growth and evolution in actuality, never stops. You just have to recognise that and stay in sync with it.
Study the language of music and stay in a constant state of learning
Whether you go to a school or create your own curriculum in life, you need to learn in-depth the language which you communicate. Going to school makes it easier because professionals have efficiently created learning modules that are focused on getting you to where you want to go in the fastest possible way. If you are learning on your own, get guidance towards what you need to learn and the steps to take towards it. However, once you’ve got your fundamentals (however one chooses to define that), know that in this business, the learning can never stop if you want to succeed. Learn how to learn and do that till you no longer wish to be in this business.
Put in your 10,000 hours
Unfortunately, there is no substitute for experience. Be ready to put in your 10,000 hours before you put yourself out there completely. Many musicians tend to feel they have “arrived” and want to be “out there” but one of the most important things one can learn is to recognize when to put yourself out there. You can only make a first impression once. Remember that! I don’t mean one should constantly second guess themselves, but step back and look at yourself objectively and honestly before you ask to get paid for your expression. Putting in the 10000 hours of practice and low-key experience will give you the ability to judge yourself honestly every step of the way.
Be ready to adapt always
There is absolutely nothing constant in this business. Not only does every artist need to evolve to maintain their fan base but also the very nature of creation and expression itself is in a constant state of evolution. “Evolve or Die” is actually true. But this is closely connected to the first 3 points and should come naturally if one is so inclined but I’m saying this here because it needs to be front and center in the vision of yourself as a musicpreneur.
This is obviously true of any business. However, some artists feel that by virtue of being an “artist” they can get away with coming late for gigs or use the excuse of “waiting for inspiration” or something like that for not delivering a job on time. The real world doesn’t work like that, no matter how many stories you’ve heard of rock stars doing whatever they want. Many of those promoters, managers, agencies etc. will never work with them again regardless of who they are. We are paid to be creative on the spot and to bring our “A” game to the table every time
One of the biggest challenges in our business is that one is as good as one’s last job. This means there is pressure to be “on the ball” for every gig one does. However, I like to look at this in a positive way. If one ingrains the above points in the nature of the approach, this challenge can actually be a massive thrill, something artists sometimes look forward to. But the biggest benefit of being a musician is that if you love every minute of what you do, then you feel like you’ve never worked a minute in your life. So play hard and you’ll be happy!
—The author, Ashutosh Phatak, is co-founder of The True School of Music. Views are personal
(Edited by : Ajay Vaishnav)