How to become an artist-entrepreneur?
Music is a business…
Some artists refuse to acknowledge the fact that music is not only an art, but also a business.
To earn a living as an artist, however, it is necessary to understand that behind music lies a vast industry, a business like any other.
To make a living from your art, creating is not enough.
This romantic vision shared by many artists (though less and less) must not be yours if you want to achieve your goal and live your passion full-time.
In this article, I suggest that you make a link that may seem surprising to some people. This is the link between art and entrepreneurship.
Do art and business mix well?
For many, the word art and the word business have nothing to do in the same sentence.
It is a legacy of this “romantic” vision mentioned above. Art would be something noble, far from the low material considerations.
We imagine the creative, the artist, as someone cut off from the world and from these very down-to-earth issues.
However, what better way for an artist who is passionate about what he does than to to live by his art ?
Creating requires time and being able to live from your art is therefore, beyond money itself, something that attracts for the freedom it provides.
To generalize, artists dream of being able to make a living from their creations, because that’s what they like to do above all else. And the idea of devoting one’s life to this is very appealing.
The creative must therefore be in an entrepreneurial approach in the sense that he seeks to generate income from his activity.
However, this income is not an end in itself. Obviously, money is always a means, but for artists, the ambition, the final objective, is particularly clear.
The importance of profit
If you want to become a professional artist, and therefore earn your living only through your music, it is necessary to understand that profit is at the heart of most discussions, as in many other industries.
- Thus, a manager will accept to take charge of your career if you have the potential to generate a profit.
- You can sign a contract with a music label if you have the potential to generate enough money. The more money you generate (concerts, music sales, merchandising), the more margin you will have to negotiate your contracts.
- And more generally, you can only survive as an artist if you generate a profit.
The artist as an entrepreneur
Being interested in the music business, and not just the creative process, will make you an enlightened artist; which is essential when you want to avoid being fooled/exploited/scammed/stolen.
Knowing the basics allows the artist to minimize or even sometimes avoid problems (which will arise in dozens, whether we like it or not).
Many artists sign bad contracts, for example with a label, a manager or a concert organizer, simply because of a lack of information. And very often, these artists pay a high price.
Bad career choices can considerably slow down the development of your career, or even stop an artistic career altogether.
It is therefore necessary for the artist to know the basics of the music industry.
The artist is a real entrepreneur, who will have to make choices to develop his “business”; that is, his career.
An artist must understand the music industry
Of course, there are always exceptions, some artists may well evolve in the music world without really knowing the music industry.
But I sincerely believe that this mode of operation is equivalent to moving forward blindly, and involves many risks.
Before embarking on such an adventure, it is better to know where you are going.
The ultimate analogy:
Imagine an excellent cook. His dishes are excellent, he is creative and talented, but this chef wants to open his own restaurant.
To do this, he will have to find out…
It is indeed difficult to start a business without knowing what you are getting into, without having a minimum of preparation.
To prosper, this cook, future restaurant manager, will have to know the basics of the “kitchen industry”.
It is better to be properly prepared and informed before embarking on a business that will cost you a lot of time and (sometimes…often?) a lot of money.
Acknowledging that music is a business does not mean that you sell your soul to the devil!
- it proves instead that you are “lucid”;
- you know what to expect;
- by taking a little interest in the music industry, you will be one step ahead of artists who know nothing about it (due to lack of time or interest);
- even if you are not accompanied by a manager or a label who could advise you, you will be able to make informed decisions.
Knowledge is a real power, especially in the music business!
Ready to create your startup?
Now that we have highlighted the fundamental difference between business and artistic project from the artists’ point of view, let us get to the heart of the matter.
A startup is a small company with high growth potential. The objective of the latter is to grow as quickly as possible. They use many methods to do this.
If we limit ourselves to digital, startups have a rather technical jargon: traction, growth hacking, funnel, inbound marketing, SEO..
Let’s put that aside for a moment to focus on the most important thing: the state of mind.
Beyond the technical aspect, what unites startups is the state of mind that drives its creators. The latter have only one thing in mind: growth.
To be able to live from your art, being inspired by this state of mind can be very useful.
Many tools and techniques used by startups exist (I will tell you more about them later in this blog), but the real strength of these companies is their vision.
It is also up to you to think “growth”. By keeping this in mind, you will move in the right direction…
Growing your project to make a living from your art
This is not about being obsessed with money, but about being as rigorous as a startuper. Setting up a success box can be long as well as to live by his art.
What makes the difference is the methodology. Today’s digital startups quantify the majority of what they do.
In order to acquire new users, they experiment. For this purpose, hypotheses are made, tests are carried out and a conclusion is drawn.
Depending on the latter, the experiment is repeated (or not) by changing a parameter to see if it improves the result, and so on.
You must have this rigour and methodology. Personally, I use a lot of statistics from social networks like Facebook to improve my posts or those of Twitter.
The promotion of your art must be much more orderly than your creative process.
If you obviously have to keep your habits to create, the next step, the one of making your work known, is much more pragmatic.
I took several years to understand this and I guarantee you that it makes all the difference.
In order for you to start developing good habits for your project, I would like to talk to you about what is called the AARRR framework in the startup world.
It is a framework that helps digital entrepreneurs to grow their project. It is also the basis of what is called “Growth hacking”.
This is the acronym for “Acquisition, Activation, Retention, Revenue, Referral“.
Startupers focus on each of these points in an alternative way in order to make their project evolve as quickly as possible.
I will not go any further in this article, but it was to show you that it is possible to segment your artistic project in a rigorous way.
In any case, that’s what I do in my projects, and the results are there. This makes me less lost and keeps the most important thing in mind.
Startups in their methodologies can inspire artists.
You really need to distinguish between your creative work and the work of promoting your work.
This is not always easy and requires qualities that may seem contradictory.
To live from your art, you must be both creative and rigorous.
There is a time for everything. So don’t let your state of mind when you try to make your work known encroach on your creative process and vice versa.
Nor is it a question of becoming cynical and calculating everything, far from it.
But staying pragmatic when it comes to creating a community around your work will bring you a lot.
I hope I saved you some time. Many artists never understand this point. So now it’s your turn to play!
Start by noting, planning and organizing your project. You will come out a big winner.