The Key to Successful Art is Entrepreneurship

If you ask any successful artist what has made the difference for them, the answer is likely to be hard work, a dash of luck, and a careful eye toward business. Oh sure, you have to be good at your craft, but let’s face it: anyone can learn to write songs.

Yeah, I said it. Anyone can do it.

This man is so rich he has a full-sized pleasure yacht... on his jet.

This man is so rich he has a full-sized pleasure yacht… on his jet.

Most songs are about love. Most of them are made up of three major chords, I, IV, and V. Every now and then someone will toss in a ii or a vi, but often not… well, unless they went to Berklee. Then there’ll be diminished chords all over the chart for no reason at all.

Playing instruments also isn’t that hard. Children can do it, and anyway you don’t need to know how to play a single one to be a musician. You don’t even need to know how to sing. Autotune will handle that.

If you want to make original music for a living, the only thing you have to be able to do is excite people. That’s business: giving the people what they want.

So how do we figure out what they want? Simple. Give them lots of stuff and see what gets traction and what doesn’t.

Here’s where entrepreneurship comes in.

Dictionary.com: “a person who organizes and manages any enterprise, especially a business, usually with considerable initiative and risk.”

Here’s Hypebot on the subject of musical entrepreneurs:
http://www.hypebot.com/hypebot/2012/05/not-all-musicians-are-entrepreneurs-successful-and-professional-ones-are.html

The risk for a traditional business is usually just loss of capital investment. Losing can hurt, but it doesn’t hurt nearly as much as when our songs don’t excite anyone. That’s why I think it’s easier to be a serial entrepreneur than a serial songwriter, but even so, to succeed we have to be entrepreneurs. We have to have initiative in the face of risk.

What if, instead of writing ten songs over the course of a year and making them into an album, you write a song a week, see which ones your community likes best, then make your album out of those? Even if you take two weeks off, that’s 50 potential tries at writing kickass tunes. Of course, you have to be able to take it when most of those songs go nowhere, but better to find out which ones need work before you blow a wad of time on recording them.

If I had one thing to do over again in my failed musical career, that would be it. I would write many more songs, then post them to social media and learn from the results. We didn’t have your fancy Tweeters and Facing Books back in my day, but I’d have them sent out by carrier pigeon or something.

That’s how an entrepreneur would do it.

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