How musical skills can help you succeed in business

“[Musicians] talk of nothing but money and jobs. Give me businessmen every time. They really are interested in music and art.”- Jean Sibelius, composer, on why he rarely invited musicians to his home.

Do you see a man diligent and skillful in his business? He will stand before kings; he will not stand before obscure men. – Proverbs 22:29 (Amplified Translation)

For some musicians, business and music don’t mix. They have learned to avoid financial decisions, whether due to bad experiences, lack of information, or a host of other reasons. If this describes you, you may feel you’ll never gain the skills to effectively manage your musical income.

That’s not true. In fact, you’ve already learned some business skills, but not in a school or financial institution. You’ve learned them by being a musician. In fact, many business experts are now trying to help workers to think more creatively; more like artists. As we perform, we exhibit some of the characteristics businesses desire.  One characteristic musicians utilize is diversification.

Diversification is the strategy of distributing resources across several different areas to limit risk and increase the possibility of good returns. In other words, it’s putting your eggs in more than one basket. Having that kind of flexibility is a key advantage in most business enterprises.

Photo Credit: Sebastiaan ter Burg

Photo Credit: Sebastiaan ter Burg

As musicians, we are required to do several tasks simultaneously while performing, and do them well; follow a singer or leader, keep time, make harmonic and melodic choices, all while expressing emotion and feeling. Professionally, we usually play in different bands, teach, write, and do many other kinds of work to generate income.

Not only do we have diverse abilities, we also have to be flexible. Creatively, we adapt to different styles. We improvise when things change during a performance. We have backup plans in case something doesn’t work.

Sounds like Business 101 to me.

So why use these strategies only on the stage? Why not apply these principles to your financial and business decisions?

Try new and unique themes at your concerts and performances to reach new audiences. Create interesting and uncommon musical collaborations. Write articles about the music you are passionate about, and make presentations to local groups or schools. Look for new areas to perform where your style of music may be a break from the norm.  Save a portion of every gig’s income for emergencies.  These are just a few of the ways musicians can increase their flexibility and maximize their potential income.

Remember, your business IS music. You can be a great artist while also being great at business. Diversify, be flexible, and be creative.

Share: How can we encourage musicians to be more proactive and effective when dealing with business matters?

For more information: See this list of 45 different revenue streams musicians can utilize.  

Photo Credit: Sebastiaan ter Burg

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