Uncertainty! This article has been requested for two years. Such a difficult topic! I have started this article at least twenty times. Every time I have emphasized some other thing over the other. Now I am about to finish this. I decided to be merciful to myself and just write the things down.
Uncertainty is something we all know. It can be present in many areas of life. You often hear people say that you just have to live with it. Well, that’s how it is. Basically, it is how we deal with it, but also how we prepare for it.
For clarification, this article is about economic uncertainty that many music business aspirant are struggling with. Instead of speaking it from the general point of view, I chose to share my own experience. It seems to interest you the most. Secondly, a personal story is best known to you. It gives you freedom to the tell things without any restrictions.
The beginning of a career
It was 1995 when everything started. I was a first-year law student. At the time, resources were insufficient and life looked just like that. Moreover, the time I spent with different tasks wasn’t a sacrifice at all, but curious mind and the attitude, I am learning something new today. If I would give advice to 23-old myself, it would be that always leave something in your pocket when receiving rewards. We’ll return to this below.
People told me to focus law instead of music. As a lawyer, livelihood would be secured. Fortunately not everyone agreed with this. At a young age, you are more impressionable. As a result, you could have made the different choices. I am lucky. I have been able to attend to the lectures of great teachers. One professor reminded us about copyright and how it could become more important in the future. Oh boy, he was right.
In my case, law school was the plan b – if everything had gone wrong. That knowledge in itself gives a sense of security. On the other hand, as you get older, you become more prone to worry – or not. Every now and then I find myself wondering what if I had chosen otherwise. This is what I mean when I recommend starting everything at a young age. Later on, you will find it easier to place restrictions and excuses for yourself. And you still got time to change the course.
Uncertainty is often due to lack of knowledge, how this business works. This easily manifest itself as a hesitation. The hesitant mind, in turn, sees no opportunities. It become blind to them. Let’s move on.
You can fill this gap by reading music business books and related articles, but also being in touch with music business professionals if that’s possible. Nothing however, beats the experience. It is always the best teacher. So let it be our guide. Entering the industry requires preparation. Without it, your journey becomes difficult.
For the sake of clarity – this article does not per se apply to those music professionals who are employed by the companies in the industry. For them, it’s a bit different thing. This article is more to those who operate independently.
In order to find your path, you need to know what you are after. Until it becomes clear, you need to keep moving. Spend time well with those uncertain years. At that very time, all the experiments and changes in plans are easier to settle. If you’ve already become known with some particular role, it can be harder to change. It is not worth limiting yourself when you start this journey. I personally attended every meeting that came on my way when I was younger. It didn’t matter if the meeting made sense or not. Each meeting developed my communication skills – for future purposes. For the manager, those skills are worth gold. The time you start to think about economic value of your actions – it comes later. Trust me, you want to fill your data bank first. With that information you can find your path – if it has remained unclear.
The better this footwork is done, the easier it is to deal with this uncertainty. You are bound to learn how this business works and what it means to you. Since the music business is poorly suitable for the part-time commitments, you need to find out your true engagement first. Before you can move on, you need to create working facilities. It requires resources. Happy are those who have savings or other releasable assets when they start out.
For my part, I proceeded as my knowledge grew. I started as an agent – a task where success is realized immediately or at least with a short delay. At this stage, I was not dealing with copyright – nor generating revenue from any sources of passive income. The reward of an agent is commission against the each booked venue.
However, it was a valuable time for information acquisition. You got a reason to connect with the promoters and other operatives in the field. The commissions I received also funded my studies. While I still worked as a substitute teacher, I got the necessary funds to gain early career knowledge and experience.
Easy come and easy go. At that time, money came in surprisingly easy. I always had the job that were paid. One thing I ignored. A jump from the agent shoes doesn’t happen overnight – at least if your destination is to be an artist manager. If I would be in the same situation now, I’d save most of my rewards for the future purposes.
As a manager, money enters the scene when the artist’s actions make it possible. I started my career with new artists. It means that it took time before they became economically relevant. In addition, making it happen required time-consuming resources which is difficult on a sideline basis. It is also the time when you make a name as a manager. Trust me – you want to do it well!
Uncertainty is also created by derivative. As a manager, you are dependent on your artists and how their interest groups are doing their job. It is not uncommon for the artist, after all the preparation made for them, not wanting to continue in the same way. Before any plan is realized, everything is more and less uncertain. This fact is good to consider when choosing your seats. It is rarely worth putting all the eggs in the same basket – especially if your future income is dependent on the others.
I was already so advanced in my studies that I could offer legal services to others too. I was pleased to get that most of those assignments from the industry. Consequently, I wasn’t that dependent a manager can be. It also made my relationship with my artists easier – the work was done on a voluntary basis.
Reward is something you want to tackle as early as possible. The more obscure your financial figures are, the more uncertain will be your position. You need contracts for this. Basically, the artists are in a better position. They have the rights over their production. It is up to them to decide how they are going to use that output. When, in pursuit of their financial endeavors, they then sign away some these rights, the recipients obtain financial rights over the artist, in a way the agreement determines. WARNING! This paragraph is just an example and does not mean that you automatically have to forfeit your rights or some of them to succeed!
I had my reservation about derivatives. At first I didn’t take anything from the artist, not because I didn’t deserve, but because my own motives weren’t settled yet. By taking care of my artists, I got to learn the industry. I was also able to do it ‘at large’ because I wasn’t asking for much. It seemed unfair to make the artist pay for having that opportunity. If I hadn’t been in that role, I wouldn’t have the information I now have. In a way, I was in the same boat with the artists that time.
Secondly, I wanted to write the books! Hardly any of my books would have been born without this. Personally I started to include commission to my contracts when my contribution became economically meaningful – I mean the rewards we gathered wouldn’t be possible without the efforts I had made.
I’ve noticed that routines are here for this task. I start every Monday in the same way – answering to every contact I have received over the weekend. You would be surprised to know how many contacts an author can have and how it is that most of the new contacts actually take place when it’s weekend. These contacts form my weekly agenda with new assignments. When we add ongoing operations and agreed individual tasks, we are dealing with the agenda I am running through every day.
Now, let us return to the original plot. I always save some of the money I receive. Part of the money goes to chosen funds with variable returns. This way I can estimate the resources I can use for the operations more easily.
The golden advice for entrepreneurs is to have their cash flow steady and sufficient. Without it, all the spontaneous will be missed. It is typical that you cannot really anticipate they are coming. They may emerge like a bolt from the blue – for this, it is good to have releasable funds.
Here we come to the end game, the moment when the breakthrough is supposed to happen. We are also dealing with sacrifices that must be made before anything can be realized. We don’t want to spoil tomorrow’s success today.
This is about mindset. Pretty much all of us have some idea or plan – in what kind of economic circumstances you’d like to do your life work. For my part, I was hoping to get one clear source of passive income – as an economic goal I mean. The distance to reach that point has been long. It will take time before you can write books that really matter. Oftentimes, readers also require some level of experience from the author – especially when it comes to non-fiction books.
I have lived all my adult life in terms of this calling, if I can put it this way. It is surprising what a stretching ability you have when you want something hard enough. It is also about wanting and hunting the desired state of affairs – not at any cost though. When I was younger, I didn’t buy a house or car, like most of my friends did. I thought all that would have restricted me from doing what I do. It would have driven the resources elsewhere. I needed them to accomplish the this mission. It is always about choices and they are unique to everyone. This article is not designed to prompt you to do the same. This is just what I did.
When your work reaches a public awareness, it will make life easier. If the operation ends or seems no longer meaningful, a new one comes into play. After all, the breakthrough isn’t always the economic one. Of course such is desirable, but it is also something else. It is the moment when your achievements begin to have a life of their own. Sometimes it is involved with related passive income and sometimes it is something else.
Of course, no such thing as black or white. Like I said, it’s a mindset. The younger you start, the sooner you find. Youth is the best time for experimentation. It is worth taking advantage and enjoying it.
I promised myself not to exceed 2000 words. Couldn’t follow the plan, it went 300 over.
If you are interested in the subject, The Art of Music Business Management – For Artists & Managers provides a great deal of information. The book is conveniently available on Amazon as a paperbacks or e-books. They deliver them in your home in a few days!