Excellent article about musicians developing business skills

A quick note about this article I just came across: “Musicians add business skills to repertoire” It’s very cool, and a sign o’ the times, that artists developing entrepreneurial skills is such a hot topic.  I also left a reply on the page, which might provide some food for thought, and I’ll also include here:

“Thanks for this article! I am an NYC based saxophonist, pianist, and composer that received an M.M in Jazz Performance from Manhattan School of Music in 1998. I’m thrilled to hear that my alma mater is providing its students with essential business skills for artistic entrepreneurship, which wasn’t the case when I was attending.
I believe that social networking is one of the most important skills one can develop in the twenty first century marketplace. Most of the artists I know already have a website and/or Facebook/Myspace accounts, but many still do not have Twitter account, have a blog, utilize podcasts, or have a YouTube channel, not to mention all the other sites like LinkedIn and LastFM. These are all extremely potent tools for getting your work “out there,” and not just merely for shameless self promotion either – they provide opportunities to discover the work of other artists, interact on a personal level with your fan base, and to engage the worldwide artistic community overall.
I’ve found, somewhat surprisingly, that artists can sometimes have resistance to using these tools.. For example, I recently started a side business as a social media consultant for musicians, and my first client is a highly accomplished classical musician who was making his first foray into the world of digital social networking. Although he was intrigued with the idea of social media, it took many conversations to convince him that having a Facebook Fan Page was not going to make him look unprofessional amongst his fans, or that he was being too much like an “Amway salesman.” Once I finally got the ball rolling on his Facebook Page and he started getting “fans” and they were commenting on his posts, he began to see that this was a fun and easy way to engage his audience.
As far as where I’ve learned many of my business skills…a lot of it has come by trial and error (unfortunately!). I lead a jazz orchestra that got signed to an “indie-major” label a few years ago, and I’ve had management, and I have an agent, and I’m sure that if I had more of a solid background in business I could optimize my career and several levels. However, I recently completed an excellent course that was provided by the New York Foundation for the Arts (NYFA) called the Artists as Entrepreneurs Boot Camp. It was an informative and inspiring five session intensive seminar that covered several aspects of artistic entrepreneurship such as goal setting, budgeting, grant writing, intellectual property, social networking (there it is again!), and small business organization. It really filled in a lot of the gaps in my business knowledge, and stimulated a lot of out-of-the-box thinking in terms of my artistic career.
So overall my advice for all artists seeking to enhance their business skills – diligently seek this information, it’s not too hard to find anyway. Take a business course, read a book about some aspect of the business that interests you, subscribe to arts-related industry blogs, It certainly doesn’t hurt to shift one’s focus onto the business aspects of one’s career every once in a while!”


Subscribe to the Travis Sullivan Newsletter to get info about upcoming events and music releases.