It doesn’t take an accountant to tell you that making music is expensive. There are countless people and businesses asking for money from budding musicians around every corner. Gear manufacturers, producers, studios, marketers, random Instagram models with a couple thousand followers who think they’re marketers, you name it!
I understand this myself. To be entirely honest, I’ve lost count of how much money I’ve spent over the years on my music. From plugins to keyboards to studio time to that random Instagram model, it always seemed like there was something else I needed to buy in order to succeed as a musician.
The people selling me stuff played directly into my starry eyed desire for the limitless success that seemed to follow every big musician. Really, a lot of the sales messaging was genius and I can respect that as a marketer. But, what I really wanted was help figuring out how to actually make money doing this.
As a producer, I would DM tons of artists acting like the same pushy salesperson that had sold me software and gear. Occasionally, I would land a sale but ultimately it felt kinda like I was banging my head against a wall over and over again.
Then one day I realized that I’d become exactly like the same system that had drained my wallet. I wasn’t really offering people an avenue toward wealth as a musician. I was only offering them the industry standard rate on beats. That was not a very compelling offer even for me as the person selling it!
So, I set out to shift my perspective. I wasn’t sure how I was going to pay the bills. But, I knew that I wasn’t going to get where I needed to go personally and in my business unless I could add value at every turn. Over more than a decade producing music and working in this industry, I knew that I had a lot to offer but I was so caught up in a mindset that said I needed to fight to get paid for any scrap of help I offered someone. That all changed though when I started paying forward.
Instead of immediately jumping into discussion of my rates, I would just give an artist beats or engineer their track. Soon, I was racking up a fair share of points on a lot of records. I also started to share my experiences and knowledge as a producer on my daily podcast Producer Cast. Any way I could find to pay it forward with my peers, I jumped on.
By becoming a servant, I started to become a leader as well. Today friends and strangers will come to me for advice on everything from their next record to starting a podcast or how to manage their business affairs. I still continue to pay it forward and it has served me well. I am no longer starving for recognition as I fumble over DMs with artists asking for them to pay me for beats they didn’t even solicit. Now opportunity finds me and when I am looking to create opportunity my first priority is figuring out how much value I can possibly afford to squeeze into any offer.
But this has not just been a change in how much money is in my wallet and how I do business with others. It has given me the confidence to pursue what I am truly passionate about. It has allowed me to experience the joy of educating and mentoring others who may be new to music but share that same passion.
What I can say is this. If you are tired of losing money with your music, then stop thinking short term. If you’re relying on someone to buy your next meal through DMs you’re not setting yourself up long term. Start finding ways that you can add a ton of value for others every single day without any strings attached. Value adders will always be the winners in the long run!