I have been reading this 700 plus page book for the past two weeks. It’s an incredible tale. But while I respected a lot of the moves (the amounts of money are staggering), I did learn that I don’t ever want to be reviled because of greed. One partner was beloved (and still is) and one is hated (still is). I learned what kind of leader I would like to be from this book and the pitfalls to avoid. This book doesn’t deal in the realm of music specifically, but there was hardly anything this agency didn’t touch in terms of entertainment for about 25 years. Gordon Gekko was wrong: greed isn’t good. Unmitigated greed is especially not good…
Powerhouse: The Untold Story of Hollywood’s Creative Artists Agency
We meet a lot of different types of people in the music business. Some are working hard at full-time jobs while pursuing the music on a part-time basis while others live with four other dudes and feast on PBR every payday. As I keep emphasizing, no matter how you’re living in this music business, you’re an entrepreneur. And as a business person (and in some cases business owner) it’s very important that you strategize. Make a plan and really do something every day to make it a reality. What’s a win in the music business look like for you? And one point I am emphasizing to all of the entrepreneurs I’m working with now is stop wasting time if it’s costing you money. I know someone who makes a great salary as a full-time developer but complains of a part-time job he took to help a friend. So the friend has moved on but he still shows up and barely makes enough money at the job to cover his gas. Why? Why do that? That’s time that could be devoted to the business he says he’s planning to start. Waste. You have no time to waste. Invest in yourself at all times. And always make sure your actions match your words. Keep hustling!!
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Got some positive news on The FameMachine project. Check it out!
Welcome to March 2017 – almost a full year after the initial planned release date of FameMachine. I am an independent label owner – quite by accident. I’m also an independent music producer – also, a complete accident. And it’s been hard. This project has survived personnel changes, delays in the studio and an incredibly long mixing period. Right now, it’s supposed to be released in April but I have no idea. We have partnered with a new company in town and we are all kind of figuring it out as we go along.
Me? I started my journey in film school. After I graduated college, I wrote screenplays on spec. Which is basically, I came up with ideas and wrote them for free and tried to sell them. I had varying degrees of success, but no big sales. Lots of meetings, lots of pats on the back but no checks. So now, I find myself working with some of the most creative people I have ever met and they happen to create music. And there’s a reason why ex-drug dealers have done so well in the music business. This is a relentless grind for transparency, access, interest and support. In short, if your music is not already popular, nobody with access and money is willing to invest in you. The days of seeing diamonds in the rough or hearing the music and taking a chance seem to be over. The conversations are all about branding and licensing. In fact, it appears that if the music isn’t able to be put into commercials or movies, anyone who can monetize your project will overlook you. Oddly, hip-hop seems impervious to this trend. They have carved a niche, almost a cult-like following, for that one kind of song that kinda all sounds the same. It’s Drake and then everybody else. And I like Drake but right now hip-hop is not where innovation is happening. And it’s challenging to be innovative in any industry. Once people make money in one area, that’s it. It’s like heroin. You’re chasing the dragon after that. Money and fame are hard to lose so once you’ve had it, you are tempted to just keep doing the same things in order to stay ahead of the game financially. Which leaves us where we are now. There are a lot of good artists in every genre that you haven’t heard of because they are in their own lane. All I can say is support artists you love. Buy their music. Buy their merch. Talk about them on social media. Use their songs in your posts. Instagram about them. Everyone won’t make it to the top of the charts and maybe that’s a good thing. But if you love someone’s music, let them know with your wallet and your actions. The gatekeepers need to be reminded that they don’t know everything.
judith a. culp|just mediaworks
The operative word is DO.
Make this week about action.
Definitive, measurable action.
Do you have a strategy for 2017? Do you have a business plan or even a mission statement? What’s a win in your music career look like?
What if someone contacted you and said they love your music and want to sign you – what would you DO? Do you want to get signed to a label? Do you want to be indie or do you want to find an investor?
What are your goals? Have you set up an LLC? Have you talked to a manager?
Have you invested in new equipment? Did you spend money at zZounds?? Did you keep the receipts ’cause you know, it’s tax time? That’s a write-off.
(These guys are good, too)
If only your success was just built around dope beats or great songs. It’s not. If you aren’t capable of answering the above questions, you need to start there. You don’t have to know everything in the world but you need to have an idea of what your goals are. And this doesn’t mean overthink it but you can’t underthink it, either. You wouldn’t drive to California from New York without a map – this is the same thing. Strategy matters.
Go! Be great!!
Never be afraid to boss up. If that means buying equipment, taking a class – whatever. Don’t be frivolous but also remember to invest in yourself!
That advice directly from the boss.
Speaking of the boss, check out the new site. Big things are happening with our company and we are excited to share that with you guys!
MCM Electronics – Your Connection to Electronic Products and Components
We know that it makes some of you very uncomfortable to think about the part of your career that isn’t about music, but you have to do it. Here we are during tax season and if you’re still filling out the EZ forms because you don’t want to think about it and need that $300 bucks, yeah, you need to change your approach. First and foremost, just because you’re not rich and famous yet, doesn’t mean you’re not in business. If you upgraded a guitar, replaced a set of headphones, bought a book on songwriting – you see where I’m going with this – if you spent any money towards your career, you’re trying to be successful and the IRS recognizes that. Those are indeed business related expenses and you should take advantage of that. I remember a friend’s husband told me I was an entrepreneur about ten years ago. That’s the first time I had ever heard that applied to myself. Eight years of film and media school and no one ever mentioned that I along with my classmates were entrepreneurs. It never occurred to me. But once it did, it changed my life. Not just for taxes but also in the way I felt about my pursuit of a career in entertainment. It can be so frustrating when you’re not seeing the success you believe you deserve – it’s embarrassing and there’s a healthy amount of shame for wanting to do something other than sit at a desk and collect checks. I picked film because I wanted to see the world and have my work days be different every day. Plus, I wanted to make the big dollars. Financially, I have had my fair share of jobs. But the day I realized I was an entrepreneur, I have looked at my life and career path differently. I’m no longer ashamed or disappointed. People still say to me they can’t believe I never made a movie – well, I say not yet. Respectfully, I’m still alive and I’d rather have not made any movies at all than ones I am ashamed to put my name on. And now that I know I’m a business person, I’m comforted by the knowledge that I’m building something. I’m the architect of a life that’s bigger than just working a 9-5 and making another company rich. Sure, it’s easy for other people to throw rocks at it but who cares what they think? I mean, I really don’t care and neither should you. You’re brave enough to share your talent with the world. Maybe you’ll be rich, maybe you won’t. But wouldn’t it be great to be able to pay your bills, have your freedom AND know it’s all from something you built? Follow your bliss. And you don’t have to have an MBA – do what gets you excited. Right now, just in my friendship circle I have one friend who’s starting her own craft beer business, one friend who is doing online psychotherapy sessions, one friend who is following a lifelong love of music and starting a DJ career – all of those are examples of people I know who are following their passions and turning them into profits. And that’s how you have to think of yourself, too. If a life in music (or whatever you love) is everything to you, get after it. And really, give it everything you have. There’s no room for part-time passion. Be smart – I’m not saying walk in and curse your boss out or storm off of the only source of income you and your family have – that wouldn’t be smart. However, I’m saying make a plan and if this is your dream, do the work necessary to attain it.