Sellout or Starving Artist: Why you don’t have to be either one


Have you ever heard these comments about an artist or musician?

“She’s not really about the music. It’s all a business to her.”

“If he really cared about his music he wouldn’t have signed that deal.”

Many musicians and artists struggle to earn a living while maintaining control of the kind of music they create. It’s a difficult balancing act.  It seems there are only two choices  – to either be a sellout, or a starving artist.

The sellout gives up all their creative independence in order to make a buck. The music and art no longer matter – only the paycheck does.

The starving artist is devoted to their music, but is indifferent or hostile to commercial interests. Their music is supposedly more authentic because they refuse to bow to financial pressures.

One has no integrity.

The other has no perspective.

One makes music only to make money.

The other thinks music and money don’t mix.

Both stereotypes are false. The majority of working musicians understand this.

Every musician should feel free to pursue opportunities that bring more income and make their music more marketable.  At the same time, most musicians are serious about protecting their creative independence, and will reject situations that force them to be something they are not.

We don’t have to choose between being a sellout or a starving artist.  Music is a business and an art form.

And we can excel at both.

For more information on musical entrepreneurship, check out these resources. 

The Savvy Musician

Why Gospel Artists Are Broke

ArtistHouse Music

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