Making Money from Music
The majority of books you read about making money from music confuse the process with ‘making it in the music business’ will try to sell you a formulaic approach to becoming a bubble-gum pop star. They will explain the prevalent myths that they believe are preventing everyone from being the next big thing. You will be offered ‘secrets’, things ‘the pros’ do to succeed beyond us mortals. They will claim to teach you how to reinvent yourself, correct past mistakes and become a star.
But their approach is wrong.
Some of the advice offered is well-meaning, and much of it has an element of truth to it. But if the approaches offered in other books really worked, would their authors not already be stars, and would the world not already be full to bursting with readers of ‘be a big star’ books who fill the music charts today with their amazing work? What’s that? You have never heard any of the big names in the business thank the authors of such books for unleashing their potential and unlocking the secret door to fame and wealth? Well, that’s weird isn’t it…
The facts of the matter are that the chances of hitting it big in the music business are infinitesimally small – around the same as the chances of being a big Hollywood star. Around 1 in 1,500,000. If playing the odds, you’d be just as wise to buy ten lottery tickets and wait for your jackpot. The lottery is actually a better bet since you could have another go next week. With that in mind, you might be waiting a while for fame. But do not despair!
Fundamentally, success is in your own hands. If you have the will to succeed, build a solid plan and have the determination to follow it through in spite of all the challenges you will inevitably face, you will succeed sooner or later. The problem is that success is unlikely to arrive overnight, where your need for food and a roof over your head is pretty urgent. This is the reason for society’s two primary impressions of the musician: the huge star and the starving artist. You either make it or fail utterly. This is also the reason that anyone with any sense will tell you not to covet a career in music because your chances of being a big star are slim, and the alternative is catastrophic. And if that was true they’d be doing you a favour dragging you out of the fire. But they’re wrong.
There is hope!
It is true that there are a relatively small number of wildly successful musicians in the world. It is also true that there are a huge number of musicians who now work in supermarkets, shops, cafes and all manner of other bill-paying vehicles of soul destruction. Their means to an end. But that is not inevitable. What the books on music superstardom and the societal view of all-or-nothing careers in music overlook is the simple truth that the vast majority of musicians are perfectly successful. Every professional musician out there is successful on their own terms; they survive on the income they generate with their passion for music. So, if you’re looking to be successful in the music business, think about what success looks like to you. There is one ‘secret’ that all the books and Internet articles fail to share, and it is the most fundamental one out there:
You do not need to be a star to be making money from music.
Yes, you heard right, but here it comes again. Louder, just to make sure: YOU DO NOT NEED TO BE A STAR TO BE MAKING MONEY FROM MUSIC! Stories of the majority of working musicians do not register with the wider world, because they lack the excitement of the guys you see on MTV. But they are out there – a silent majority of musicians and music professionals who make very good incomes from music, in spite of all the warnings they heard just like you did. Their prospects are just as good as those of any other profession. Their livelihoods no less secure. It could, in fact, be argued that they’re more secure since a self-employed musician is unlikely to fire themselves when times are tough. They are out there working and living their dream. They have turned their passion into their day-job. And you can too.
When embarking on a career in music, it is a good idea to examine your motives. It is unlikely you want to be a star anyway; you want the trappings of stardom. You want to be wealthy and think of fame as a means to achieve that wealth. But why do we want to be wealthy? Probably to distance ourselves from all the concerns a lack of money can bring. To give ourselves freedom. But why do we want freedom? To unburden ourselves from obligation and give ourselves the gift of time to spend with family and friends, and to do as we please. So, you didn’t want to be a star anyway; you wanted to be successful enough that you could stop having to do stuff you didn’t want to do. Well good news: we can do that here for sure!
It is traditional in a book such as this to make the reader wade through to the end to unlock the secrets within. There are no secrets here. This book is split into sections based on the facets of the music industry in which the author has very successfully made an income, and the author is not a star – which explains the title. This book offers many incremental answers that can be combined based on your interests, available time, current skills and experience, and tolerance for failure. You will be encouraged to be a jack of all trades and ideally the master of a couple, though that is not compulsory. To always be prepared for, and say yes to, an opportunity… and then figure out how you’re going to do it.
And you can do it, just as the author has done it using the methods for making money from music that the ‘Make Money in Music’ series will show you.