Top Music Business Mistakes of 2010

I’ve never been one for top 5 or top 10 lists but I have seen these mistakes so many times in the past year I figured they needed to be documented.

#1 Waiting

Sounds innocuous enough, right?

We should be good at waiting given all of the waiting that goes on with the craft of music.

Waiting on our fellow notoriously late collaborators, waiting on getting things tracked right in the studio, waiting to load in, waiting on sound check.  There are a million things that we have to hurry up and wait for before we even get to the business side of things.  This is of course not the waiting I am talking about though.

The biggest mistake I have seen in the past year (although admittedly it is certainly not unique to 2010) is that people wait on outside help to starting their businesses.  Anyone who has tried to raise money can tell you that it is easier to raise money when you have momentum with a project then when you only have a blueprint and some high hopes.  This is in no way saying that I think people do everything themselves.  DIY in my opinion is a condition of last resort but a condition that almost all of us are stuck with at some point or another.

Keep this in mind – when you are someone looking for outside help from someone like a potential manager or an agent you have to remember that you are asking someone for their time.  Given that time = money – you are in fact asking someone to invest in you and your company.  When you are preparing to approach someone for help of this kind ask yourself “What would make me invest in an artist’s career?”  When I ask myself this question I almost always come up with wanting to see that my time and money would be going into a business is already showing signs of life.  I would want to see that in spite of or in addition to what my eyes and ears tell me that real consumers are responding to this musician’s material.  Generally speaking those artists who have a spark and have a fledgling business are people who didn’t wait on outside help to get those businesses going.

I will let you in on a little insider secret – since the un-bundling of the album EVERYONE is making this shit up as they go along.  There is no hard science to the initial stages of breaking new artists – it is a series of best guesses.  Since no one is ever going to care about your career more than you do (at least I hope not) you may as well give it a try for yourself.  Even if you fail you will no more about the job and be better qualified to find the right person who compliments your strengths and weaknesses.

There will, of course, be times when you are forced to wait for circumstances to change.  It happens to all of us no matter what business we are in but I urge you to find ways of making these periods productive.  No matter what major event in your career is looming large – get out and play, meet people and record as much as possible and remember – there is never going to be a perfect time to start that next phase of your career.  Something will always be in your way if you let it.

Check out Mistake #2

Rick

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