Build Your Empire

The Smart Musician story has been one of starts and stops, with no real consistency. This has been mainly because of my own inconsistency, but also because I have not been 100% sure of how to translate my years of experience into something that would be of value to other like minded musicians, something that has a direction, a point that is clear, and that has an understanding of who I am talking to. In the beginning, I was focused on the technology and gear side of making music and how putting thought into using it can greatly reduce the friction, stress and time spent focusing on preparing to make music instead of making music. I, along with my band mates, figured out how to make this happen and that was what I originally set out to share.

But that only goes so far, and does not encompass the full picture of what drives me—drives all of us—in making music in the first place. There is so much more than gear and tech. There is an entire world around our music making that stretches far beyond the music-making core. I suspect that very few of us make music with the intention of not letting anyone else hear it; no, we all want to share it—music is an expression, a communication, a language—all of which is used to convey something to someone else. To do this, we need others to share our music with; we need venues and platforms from which to share our music. There are also opportunities to get compensated for our music, whether live or recorded. To do all of these things, musicians need to structure and approach their activities as a business. The days of talking about “selling out” are over (those conversations are simply rooted in jealousy and insecurity, anyway).

As I enter the next phase of my music life, career, I am setting out to build my own music empire. This won’t necessarily look like what you would see as an empire, but it is what I define it as. You should be doing the same thing. This isn’t about domination over other fellow musicians, but building your communities, networks and platforms for sharing and distributing your music and everything around it. It’s time to define what that is, what it looks like right now, knowing it will change over time. It also means excepting failure as normal and embracing it as a learning opportunity, and actually taking that opportunity to change and improve. This effort looks and feels overwhelming, because it is. But, the alternative is to have your music not be heard by people that may truly be moved by it.

This is not about big record contracts, arena tours and least of all about what people think of you. This is the greatest time in history to be alive when it comes to the opportunity that is available, which not long ago was out of reach for 98% of us. It also means that there is a lot more work, more hustle required to get things rolling. It is about volume, about content. Music is our content—we need to be pumping out more music, more frequently, and sharing it while building our fan base, our communities. It’s not about one huge payoff, but multiple small streams of revenue. It’s about learning all aspects of the business of building your empire, learning new skills—from marketing to recording, and maintaining control over your creation.

All of this is what goes into the making of a smart musician, so this is the direction I am heading with this thing. I have had a podcast that has been on the sidelines, this site which has been sporadic, and the usual platforms like Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and Instagram, all of which have little or no real content. My objective is to get the content machine running so I can share my experience, what I know, and also what I am learning as I work on building my music empire. I will be sharing music that is created along the way, too. It is my hope that you will get something out of this, at least small nuggets that will help you as you build your music empire, and then share what you learn along the way.

Here’s to making music, and building your own personal music empire!