Are you running a business?
The answer, no matter how you slice it, is yes. And if you're in denial, it doesn't mean you actually aren't in business, it just means that your business is being run poorly.
In an earlier post, I mentioned a masterclass I attended with Evelyn Glennie. At one point the discussion turned to the matter of running her tour schedule and finances. With her was an assistant who handled a large portion of those duties. Everyone thought she was joking when she finally said that if she had it to do all over again, she'd get a business degree and minor in music!
But she was very serious.
No, I'm not suggesting that you give up your aspirations of majoring in music (nor was she), but it's a lesson well taken that you need to be able to run your career and life in a profitable, organized manner in order to achieve meaningful success.
Courtesy of Dave Ramsey, here's the question: If you viewed your life like a business, and you hired you to manage things, would you fire yourself? What are your goals? Are you accomplishing them? Why or why not? How do you know?
If you haven't ever asked yourself these questions, take some time when you can think about it thoroughly, discuss it with a friend/parent/spouse/etc. and write down the answers. It may surprise you to find out that you aren't as focused or efficient as you think.
And before we talk specifically about money, I want to clarify my position. I believe, no - I know - that life is not about money. Life is about making a difference, being happy, having great relationships, caring about people, family, spirituality, and enjoying the precious time that you have here. Life is about making music, for crying out loud!
But while money can't buy any of those things, and it certainly can't buy happiness, it can provide you with a certain amount of security and freedom of choice. For example, imagine that you get called for the gig of your life, but it requires a certain dress code, or drum finish, or whatever - and you're broke! If you can't come up with the money, you must turn down the gig. And that leads to making less money, and so on.
Having a little cash also means greater choice in how you live - what kind of house, car, clothes, food and DRUMS you can afford to use.
So, life's not about money, but you need some. Clear? Okay....
Allow me to offer a few simple (but not easy) suggestions that should make your music and drumming career pay off for both your soul and your pocketbook.
- Give some of your money away. Many religions advocate giving a tithe, or tenth, of your income away. Pick your church or a worthy charity, and give them some of your hard-earned dough. Even if you're an atheist, trust me on this one. The universe will give you back more than you've given away.
- After giving, pay yourself first. Some of your money should go in the bank - or even better, a retirement fund - and not come out until you're ready to retire. I know, I know - musicians don't retire. But at some point, you're going to want to have the choice whether to work or not, and you can only do that by having a decent sized nest egg stored away.
- Let your music pay for your music. If I had a dollar for every time I've given this piece of advice, I'd have......probably about fifty bucks. (Hey, it'd be better than no bucks!) Take a percentage (I take about 15%) of the pay from every gig you play and every lesson you teach - anything music related that earns a little money - and save it for music related purchases. Want a new drum kit? Fine. Need cymbals, a snare drum, or even sticks or heads? New mics, cases or bags? Great! Pay for them by saving up money from gigs, lessons, lectures, clinics, etc. and pay in cash.
Sorry if this feels like a lecture, but I'm getting tired of seeing musicians who give their souls for the art and live in rags, ratholes and relative squalor. Even if you don't make a lot, you owe it to yourself to make your future as bright as it can be.
Make a difference, make some money, and make it count!