A while back, I went out to see a hard-working Schwilly Family Band at a venue near my house.

They dazzled the crowd with grace and charisma in a way I hadn’t seen before.

They get booked a lot, playing about 300 shows a year.

They had one of the most diverse and interesting merch setups I’ve seen in a long time. ALL homemade stuff. Even the CDs.

They were truly impressive in every way, so I figured they must be making some pretty decent money.

But alas…

As it turned out, they were still struggling to make ends meet and to make sure they had enough gas to make it to the next city.

It only took a short conversation in front of their awesome merch table to get to the bottom of it.

They had implemented the genius idea of DIYing their merch. Really beautiful and creative stuff. And a GREAT way to save on costs.

But then they undid their efforts by WAY underpricing their stuff.

Here’s the deal:

DON’T try to be the “Walmart” of music. They have to move a LOT of volume to make up for their small profit margins. And you’re not ever going to move that kind of volume.

You make premium art, which should be reflected in your pricing.

If you have the time and creativity to make your own merch (or anything else related to your business), that’s great! Use that as an opportunity to lower your costs… NOT your prices.

Otherwise you’re just undercutting other musicians, undervaluing your own work, and reducing the perceived value of music in general.

And worst of all… you’re being your own slave labor!

Put a value on your time. Account for that in your pricing, and pay yourself for your work.

I promise that REAL fans will be happy to pay what your stuff is worth. And those who aren’t, must not be that into you. So there’s no reason to cater to them.

It kind of reminds me of an unsubscribe message I got recently: “Thanks, but I’m trying to save money”.

I didn’t bother to respond to her, since she has opted out of receiving my free advice.

But I’ll happily give that advice to you…

“Saving Money” and “Making Money” are two VERY different goals. But it’s a LOT easier to save money when you’re making money (as opposed to saving it as a way of avoiding spending it).

As Adam Carolla (an actual rich guy who started out poor) says:

“Focus on making dollars, not saving pennies.”
When I was working for “The Man” just to make ends meet and living from paycheck to paycheck, my savings account was full of dust.

But now that I MAKE money and pay myself first by funneling 10% into a secret savings account before I even touch it, I have enough in there to cover a few months worth of expenses if anything goes wrong.

If you want to learn REAL business skills (which are often at odds with conventional wisdom), that’s exactly what I teach in the Musicpreneur Apprentice Program.

If you want to start MAKING money so that you can start SAVING money, the best thing you can do for yourself is invest in an education that will teach you how.

Click Here To Join The Musicpreneur Apprentice Program

Photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash

I’ve got good news and bad news for you.

Which do you want first?

I hope you said “bad news” because that’s what I’m starting with.

It’s a difficult truth that a lot of musicians have a hard time swallowing. But an important part of my job is delivering difficult truth’s and helping musicians move past them.

Here goes, like ripping off a band-aid:

You will never be able to only make music if you want to make a living at it.
I know it sucks to hear that, so let’s get on with the good news:

As soon as you swallow that pill, you’ll be able to start moving towards a profitable AND fulfilling music career.
If you ask anyone in the music in-DUH-stry they’ll most likely tell you that the sky is falling and it’s practically impossible to make money as a musician anymore.

The truth, however, is quite the opposite.

What is becoming impossible is the sustainability of large corporations with huge overhead in the music in-DUH-stry.

All of the non music-makers and middlemen that have been banking on the
“traditional” music in-DUH-stry are having the rugs pulled out from under them and scrambling for the last pennies of a dying business model that’s based on “mass marketing” and “mainstream appeal”.

The REAL truth is that there has never been a better time in the history of music to be a professional musician. Demand is higher than ever, and opportunities abound…

IF (OF COURSE there’s a big fat “IF” attached to it)…

IF you are willing to LEARN HOW TO and DO THE WORK OF building your own entrepreneurial business around your music…

In other words, IF you are ready to become a Musicpreneur.

You still have to make great music. But that’s just the entry point. There is more great music happening right now than ever before.

Contrary to popular belief, that does NOT mean that there is more competition. What that actually leads to is more demand for a greater variety of music.

Think about it. You’re not selling cell phones. People aren’t just going to pick one and then be satisfied for 2 years.

You’re making music. And the digital age means that people can literally (not figuratively) carry around all the music that their hearts desire.

What REAL music superfans WANT is to connect directly with music, and musicians who inspire them, heal them, and give them permission to be themselves. And REAL music superfans are STILL happy to pay for it.

So the only questions that remain are:

~Are you willing to let go of the traditional music industry model and start creating your own rules?

~Are you ready to learn what it takes to build and manage your own business, focusing on creating the music you want to create, and serving a community that loves what you create?

~And are you willing to do the work?

If you answered “yes” to ALL THREE questions, then you’re ready to join the Musicpreneur Apprentice Program. So click here to enroll!

Ever been in a creative rut? It’s something I struggle with regularly. When I’m in a creative funk, nothing feels right. Everything sucks. I feel like I’m beating my head against a wall…and the Muse is mocking me. I begin to wonder, “what if my best work is behind me?”. Fear creeps in. I feel like I’m trapped in a dark pit of…. nothingness. And I hope to God I can climb out.

Maybe for you it’s not that strong. Or maybe it is. But we’ve all been there. There are days when our creativity flows, when the Muse dances along with us, and inspiration is offered up to us like a holiday gift from the Universe. Those days are intoxicating, right?

But then there are days when the well runs dry. Every song lyric falls flat. Every chord progression is lifeless. Nothing feels new. Nothing excites our curiosity or our playfulness. Everything is dull and gray.

In those days, what do you do? How do you grow your creativity? How do you feed and water and nurture it? In my experience, I’ve found three basic starting points that have helped me.

Get outside voices. Innovation is literally everywhere. Steve Jobs once said ‘creativity is just connecting things’. When I need a fresh shot of creativity, I immediately look for outside voices to inject into my soul. I recently asked my FB tribe for suggestions on audiobooks (I like to listen while running, driving, etc.). Fiction. Non-fiction. History. Psychology. Drama. Graphic novels. The response was amazing! (Not only did I receive about 30 widely-varied suggestions while I slept that night, it also gave me a priceless insight into my community…). I grabbed 2 random suggestions (someone in my community actually ‘gifted’ me a book on Audible.) and got started. Sometimes I ask for music suggestions. Sometimes it’s a random TED talk or artist interview on YouTube. And sometimes I ride my bike to our community library and pick a random children’s book. I watch Telemundo TV shows. I buy a coloring book. I do whatever I can do to make my right brain chart new territory. For me, it’s not necessarily about the source of the voice. It’s more about exposing myself to a new voice. That’s helped me gather enough ‘escape velocity’ to blast out of the rut I’m in.

Get out of your head. Yes, creativity can be difficult sometimes. It can take effort. But remember, all creativity is play, not work. You don’t work a violin! The moment my creative endeavor becomes ‘work’… I’m done. Finished. Kaput. You see, work comes from our head, but play is in our soul. The moment I can get out of my head and return to ‘play’, I’m free. When I’m creatively stuck, I create something disposable. Something that no one will ever see or hear. I write a bad song. I record the most horrible drum track I can play. I pull 20 random words from a random website and write a silly song. I draw a terrible picture. I build something out of Play-Doh or Legos. Whatever it is, I focus on the ridiculousness of play, remembering that play, like art, is its own reward. It doesn’t need justification. Recreation is recreation.

Get into your heart/emotion. Emotion is the seat of passion. And emotion creates motion. When you’re stuck, you gotta get moving, right? Pick an emotion and go to that place where you feel it can intensely (a memory, a hope, a fear, a dream ) and create something from within that state of mind/feeling. Typically, I think anger and love are the two emotions we can tap into quickest. (Remember, the goal is to get moving quickly.) Ask yourself, “What makes me angry?” Is it injustice? Is it wounds you’ve suffered? Is it something personal? Political? Cultural? Whatever it is, hop online and read up on the latest statistics or events about it. Get really pissed. I mean, like, Hulk-turning- green-pissed. Now go write. Vent. Vomit. Purge. Sit down at your notepad or keyboard and freakin’ bleed. The same can be said for the emotion of love. Going through pictures, videos, memories or even gifts that belong to a loved one can stir up powerful, passionate emotions. It can be even more powerful if that loved one is no longer living. (My mom passed away just before Mother’s Day this year, so this has been especially helpful for me lately.)

Do YOU ever get stuck in a rut? These are just three starting points that have helped me. What do YOU do when you’re stuck creatively? How do YOU approach it?

I would love it if you’d leave your thoughts.