So, you have elected to turn your passion for composing into a profession. By doing so, you have also chosen to set up and run a business.
You can embrace this vocation of being a businessperson however you wish: boldly, weakly, curiously, knowledgeably, ignorantly, gracefully, begrudgingly, rigidly, fluidly, foolishly or wisely.
HERE ARE 10 TIPS TO HELP YOU ON THAT JOURNEY:
1. THE FIRST RULE OF BUSINESS CLUB IS THERE “IS” A BUSINESS CLUB
Stop pretending you aren’t running a business.
You are a composer AND a businessperson. Stop ignoring and starving that other part of yourself. Own it! Embrace it! Declare it!
It’s hard enough to run a business. Why further tie your own hands by denying the reality that you are a businessperson to yourself and to the world?
2. STOP HIDING BEHIND “I’M NOT GOOD AT BUSINESS”
Then get good at it!
You picked it. Now learn it.
The success of running any business is very much linked to the attention and decisions given to how that business is run.
If you sucked at orchestration or programming you wouldn’t just keep justifying getting lousy musical results because you weren’t initially good at it. You would teach yourself how to improve in those areas.
Don’t justify running a lousy business because you didn’t initially start out strong at it.
There are literally over two million books on business on Amazon. Start reading.
There are business shows on TV. Start watching.
There are business courses, lectures, seminars. Start taking.
There are teachers and mentors. Start following.
You didn’t become a composer by staying ignorant and disinterested in composing.
Start showing interest in learning about running your business.
4. YOU ARE NOT ALONE
Very few businesses truly function as a one-person operation. There is too much to do covering too wide of a range of needs.
Build your team.
Find allies, partners, assistants, sales reps, publicists, interns, accountants and others to help run you business.
That doesn’t necessarily mean hiring anyone. It can be you spouse, brother-in-law, best friend. It can be volunteers.
You probably have found ways to get others to work with you when you write and record music. Figure out how to do it for your other vocation of being a businessperson.
Engaging others to contribute to your business team without costing you an upfront fortune requires mastering the art of negotiating a wide range of forms of compensation.
What forms of compensation can you give to people you want to engage in contributing to the success of your business?
5. WHAT DO YOU MEAN “I’VE GOT TO SELL”?!?!?
Want people to hire you and buy your music… you’ve to go out and sell you and your music.
This takes A LOT of work, hustle, planning, execution, trial and error.
Within those two billion business books are a pile of techniques of selling. Explore them. Try them. Fail at them. Recover from them. Customize and perfect the ones that yield you the best results.
6. WHAT TO CHARGE
There is no formula or rate sheet of how composers get compensated.
Go to Amazon and type in “shoes” and “sort by price”. Go to Task Rabbit and search for “Electrician”
WOW! That’s a lot of variables and range of prices for goods and services.
Can you imagine the amount of research, exploration, planning, experimentation and adjustments that went into determining those prices?
Finding the right price point for anything is an art.
Start practicing that art.
7. IT’S ONLY BUSINESS
Composing relies a lot of being in touch with your emotions. Business relies a lot on divorcing yourself from them.
Stop making business decisions based on feelings, ego and pride.
Therapy is a wonderful place to work on your sense of self-worth. Business negotiations are not.
For the sake of clear business planning, start thinking of you and your music as a product.
What are the best ways to sell that product in the marketplace? The best ways to maximum profits on that product? Best ways to expand that product? The best ways to create and maintain demand for that product?
Those questions are best answered with emotional detachment.
8. EXPAND YOUR THINKING
Donut makers created a Baker’s Dozen of a “free” donut when you buy 12.
2-For-1 Sales are a way to move inventory and increase profits under the guise of a perceived bargain.
No Payment For A Year Plans are designed to increase sales by delaying the timing of payments.
Dynamic Pricing was created to adjust pricing based upon the ebbs and flows of demands on event tickets.
Businesses like Expedia were built around price adjustment and moving unused inventory of hotel rooms and airline seats.
There are an infinite way to sell and price something.
Be fluid, imaginative, resourceful and progressive in how you approach these aspects of your business.
9. CONSIDER THE SOURCE
Be a great and curious listener of multiple voices and a great editor of which you incorporate.
As a rule, if you are interested in selling products, it is probably better to learn from Jeff Bezos than from an inexperienced armchair business philosopher who is struggling to even run his own yard sale.
Remember those folks who scribbled their wannabe band logos on their binders in high school without even putting in 10 hours of performing in a band, yet alone 10,000? Well, they still don’t have that band. You can find those folks today on the internet launching diatribes about Spotify rates.
Running a business is extremely complex and nuanced. Simplistic “rules” do not really apply. A non-musician like me repeating a musical “rule” like “never add a tension 4th to a major triad” doesn’t suddenly make me a composing expert. Nor does it address the infinite number of other pieces of compositional knowledge required to write music. Nor does it allow me to find the exceptions to the rule to benefit writing a great piece of gospel music.
A shallow knowledge of business can lead to a misuse of comparisons.
If, for some reason, you want to start comparing running a composing business to something other than running a composing business, then really explore it for purposes beyond argumentative, glib and presumptuous asides.
Want to really know how the plumbing and steak industries operate? Then delve into them. Explore their nuances and industry trends. Seek out successful plumbers and butchers and discover the realities of their businesses beyond using them as tired and clichéd memes.
There is a universe of wonderful and wise advisors to help you on your business journey. Discover and follow yours.
10. DESIGN YOUR OWN BUSINESS CULTURE
Every business has its own vibe.
It is reflective in how it interacts with others, who it employs, how it is perceived by others.
Build a culture for your business.
It can be about being kind, efficient, diligent, easy-to-deal-with, fun, resourceful, flexible, demanding, risk-taking, formal, casual, empowering, rigid, dependable, creative, cool, elegant, friendly, passionate.
Do you want to run something that is perceived as being as imaginative, flexible, collaborative, creative and professional in its business dealings as it is in its musical ones?
What sort of business do you want to create?
BEST TO EACH OF YOU ON YOUR BUSINESS JOURNEY.