It’s taken me a LONG time to finally get clear on this. After working with hundreds of musicians to help them move forward in their careers, here’s my big-ass Music Career Secret Finally Revealed.
What I discovered was this: No matter what practical music career issue people come to me with. Whether it’s learning how to book more concerts, how to improve their promo materials, land a college teaching job, expand their studios, or overhaul their networking skills . . .
these practical career issues inevitably reveal underlying artistic questions that need to be resolved.
But it’s as though we pretend that there’s a fire wall between the business side of our music and the artistic side.
Spoiler alert: WE ARE ONE
Cleaning up the business issues of our music will always illuminate the corresponding problem areas in our artistic practice.
What do I mean?
Here’s an example: let’s say managing your time and meeting deadlines has been an issue when it comes to your promo materials or grant applications. If so, then it’s more than likely that creative productivity is ALSO an issue in the practice room or studio.
I’ve found that confronting your Resistance to managing time can help BOTH areas of your music. In fact, trying to solve the issue on one side without addressing it in the other never works.
And here’s another example: let’s say a musician comes to me because she hates self-promotion and feels like its bragging and being fake. She’s avoided making a website and promoting her studio. And when we dig a little deeper we find that she’s also avoided launching ambitious performance projects and tends to “play it safe” in her performances.
To my mind, these are symptoms of “hiding,” something I know all too well first hand. We back away from going “all in” in a performance in the same way that we shy away from taking on new projects. Unfortunately, it’s the stuff that we DON’T do in life that we end up regretting the most.
Do you see how these two “sides” of our careers are connected?
The good news here is that if you’re open to change, to taking on new ideas and habits, it’s possible to transform BOTH the business as well as the artistic sides of your music.
I’ve seen it happen again and again. When clients start dealing with what’s holding them back on the business side, and daring themselves to step outside their comfort zones, it bleeds over into their artistic work. It frees them in unexpected ways.
When we’re willing to confront what’s at the root of our Resistance, and do the hard work to overcome it, we can see ourselves in new light. And this can change how we experience our world. There are far more opportunities and possibilities in front of us than we have dared consider.
The Yin and Yang of your music
As detailed in the 3rd edition of my book, Beyond Talent, The alternative to polarized thinking is to see dualities as parts of a cohesive whole. From Chinese philosophy, the concept of yin and yang describes how . . .
seemingly opposite or contrary forces may actually be complementary, interconnected, and interdependent. . . . The halves of yin and yang (dark-bright) can be thought of as forces that interact to form a dynamic system in which the whole is greater than the parts. (thank you, Wikipedia)
The idea is to make peace between the artistic and business sides of your career. This requires clarifying your ultimate purpose as a musician: finding your WHY. When you do that, you can see how the two sides are intrinsically connected and aligned in support of your purpose.
Musicians who are purpose-driven focus on making an impact and being of service to others through their art. When you aim your focus on your highest purpose, it fundamentally changes how you manage the artistic and business sides of your music. Art and business become allies instead of enemies. They can mutually support and inspire each other when they work to serve the same purpose.
Transformation is possible
Coming to terms with both sides of your music is part of what Steven Pressfield calls “turning pro”—it’s about treating your art, your purpose, yourself—and others—with respect.
This becomes easier when you start to find the similarities between the art and the business sides of music. For example, instead of thinking that self-promotion is a necessary evil, you can view it as part of connecting with audiences and communicating authentically. That we are generously inviting people in to our music. Which is what we aim for artistically as well.
And when you see both the art and business sides as essential to connecting with audiences and making an impact, this can motivate you to be more intentional and effective in how you use your time, both in and outside of the practice room.
Now that you’re in on my big-ass Music Career Secret, be on the lookout for where your own Resistance to the business side of your career might be sabotaging your artistic work.
And if you’d like expert coaching to move forward to heal both sides, check out my offerings HERE.
Dream Big, Plan Smart, Live Well