Saturday, October 6, 2012

Music as Art vs. Music as Business

One of the biggest challenges I see new independent bands facing is the balance between treating their music as art, and growing it as a business. There is a tension that exists between creating for the sake of creating, and creating for the sake of selling.

I think what turns so many artists off the minute they hear talk of "art as business" is the connotation that every song they write has to sound like it belongs in the next Top 40 of their genre. This is not true.

Think of a physical product, say shoes. There are hundreds and hundreds of different variations of what we would call a "shoe." They each have a place, though, because the people that buy them have a use for the shoes they buy. If every shoe company said, "hey, generic sneakers seem popular, let's make those" then construction workers, surfers, business men, ________(fill in the blank) would be left without the shoes that they truly want.

Ok, this metaphor is a bit of a stretch, but stick with me.

Your music is the same way. If everyone else went out there and made their art based on what is popular and what sells in general, the music industry have a whole other set of problems than its current ones.

Treating your songs like a product doesn't mean that you go out there and create what's already been created, or even what's popular. Rather, it means listening to your fans and giving yourself the freedom to adjust your product to what they are telling you. At the core it's still your art, your music, but it offers your fans something they truly want and will increase their engagement with you as well.

What this boils down to is the necessity of setting a vision for your band. If you want your band to be your livelihood, you should be treating it much differently than if it is just your hobby. Hobbies are fun, but they generally don't pay the bills.

If you want your music to make you a living, you should be treating it as a business, with songs, performances, and online engagement as your products. That's what I'll be diving into in this blog, and I hope you'll come and learn with me.

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