Tuesday, July 10, 2012

You're In The Music Business.....Time To Be A Business Person

Like it or not, if you are interested in how to make money with music, you are officially in the music business. Now, the “music” part of the phrase “music business” is not a free pass for showing up late, writing emails with incomplete sentences, smelling grungy for a meeting, and having disorganized finances. The “business” part of that phrase is the part we indie musicians often overlook. You’ve got the music bit covered.

So here’s the cold, hard truth: you are in a business now, so play the part. As a musician, I see more responses (which lead to more results) when my communications are clear and professional. I tend to be [annoyingly] persistent, so I want to make sure my messages are not annoying to read or decode. When I’m on the other end of those messages, I have an easier time reading a longer email that is well-written than reading a short-hand email, trying to figure out if the writer meant “there” or “they’re.”

If I had a penny for every email I get from an indie artist inquiring about career coaching that doesn’t have a greeting, punctuation, or decent grammar, I’d be on a plane to Tahiti right now. I stare at my computer screen, about to book a mentoring session when really, I want to scream, “Have you heard of spell check… or periods?”

But alas, my coaching sessions are not focused on proper grammar. They are, however, focused on getting results in your chosen career. And if that choice has led you to the music business, then there are certain things that will give you a leg up and impress those who are looking to purchase, invest in, or promote your music. How you present yourself sends very specific messages.

Don’t flake out

Read emails in their entirety. I had a coaching client send a payment to a completely wrong address because he didn’t read the whole email with the directions. The message this sends: I’m unfocused and flighty. You can’t count on me for important things. You probably can’t count on me to put the money you may give me in a safe place. Being on top of things sends the opposite message: I am grateful for your time and treat you with the respect you treat me. I am a good investment.

Be on time

People want to count on you. Every minute you are late (and don’t communicate it as soon as you know you will be late) has a negative impact on the person waiting for you, whether they admit it to your face or not. The message you send: My time is more important than yours. I’m difficult, and a diva. Being on time sends this message: I am grateful for your time and this interaction is important to me. You can count on me.

Craft your emails, don’t spit them out

This also goes for phone calls, texts, any type of communication. Show that you care about your interactions by using greetings, signatures, punctuation, generally correct grammar, capitalization at the beginnings of all sentences, and spell check. It can still be informal and have your voice, it just won’t be messy. Anything other than a perfect email says the following: I’m lazy, in a rush, impatient, and you need to work around me. Instead, you could send this message: I am educated, patient, and careful with my interactions. I respect you and what you are doing for my career. You can count on me.

Keep your receipts organized, finances clean

Do yourself and your accountant a favor and keep a folder of your receipts and important papers. I have one from Staples with 10 folders in it- I keep personal and music-biz related receipts separate so I can write off those items come tax time. I have a separate bank account for my music income, and a separate credit card. Many people won’t notice how you pay for your dinner, but the message to yourself is loud and clear: I am a professional. I am organized, business-like, and I have my act together. That’s how I roll.


Cheryl B. Engelhardt is an established pianist/singer/songwriter who has toured the US and Europe, licensed songs to over a dozen TV shows, and who composes music for films, national ads, and CollegeHumor.com. Cheryl is the author of “In The Key Of Success: The 5 Week Jump-Start Strategy,” an incredibly effective, result-oriented eCourse for independent musicians who are serious about breaking through plateaus in their careers. Because you are a loyal Echoes reader, you get a ridiculous 70% discount off the regular price by typing in IHEARTDM in the “discount code” field.


Cheryl’s next workshop will be held in NYC in August 2012. For more info, visit her website www.CBEmusic.com and follow her on Twitter @CBE.