Get the money

Getting the money is one of the most important big picture concepts that I can teach you. And yet, most artists are uncomfortable talking about it. They'd rather think exclusively about the art and their creative vision. Professionals, on the other hand, get judged, not by the art, but by their ability to turn that art into money. Because without that money, you don't have a music business. Love it or hate it, you need money to pay for the records, to pay for the videos, to pay for the promotion and marketing.

And money to pay the artist if it all works out. We'll talk a lot more about it later, but I want to talk briefly now for a moment about this notion of hobby versus career. If I ask, "what's the difference "between a hobby and a career?" the answer is pretty simple. A hobby is something you do for fun. Your career is what you do to pay the bills. So, if you're serious about making music your career, you need to get paid.

You need to be thinking about getting the money. If you're an artist, you don't need to obsess about money. Your time will be better spent writing another great song, for sure. But you can't ignore it either. It's too important. If you're a music professional, it's your job to get the money, so you should be thinking about it all the time. Getting the money, and keeping the money, does not happen on autopilot. Both artists and professionals need to take responsibility for their part in getting the money.

For professionals, it's what you are judged on at the end of the day. If you're a manager, and your bands don't make money, you won't make money either, and ultimately, you'll be looking for a new line of work. If you're an A & R guy, and you sign acts that don't make money, you won't have a job for long, either. Getting the money means uncomfortable conversations with your artist about budgets for recordings and videos. About songs, and tradeoffs between that artistic vision and the financial realities that go right behind it.

It means uncomfortable conversations with your partners, to make sure that your artist is getting paid what they deserve from those labels, from those promoters, from those music publishers, from those sponsors, and commercial endorsements. I've got news for you, folks. More often than not, you need to demand to get paid. Nobody is in a rush to pay the artist in the music business. For artists, you're going to need to balance your creative vision against your financial goals, your financial needs, and your expectations.

When you're making records, it's remembering that great songs don't need a million dollars of polish and studio tricks to come alive. A great performer, singing a great song in concert, does not need 30 trucks of sound, lights, and video to bring those songs to life in a concert venue. Getting the money means understanding that you will have a window of opportunity for making money in this music business, and you'll need to make the most of it. It's too easy to think that it's going to last forever, but it won't.

Fact is, the money comes in waves in the music business, when it comes. And then it can stop cold. If you've been lucky enough to have financial success in the music business, you'd be smart to make sure you keep some of that money for the inevitable day when it stops flowing. While most successful artists will delegate the job of getting and managing their money to professionals, it's important for you not to forget that it's your money, and it's important to make sure that it's being managed properly.

Artists need to be trusting of their professional team, but that does not mean you need to be oblivious to the fact that there have been countless cases over the years where artists have been taken advantage of by shiftless managers, record labels, attorneys and business managers. Keep an eye on the money. Money doesn't have a brain. Money doesn't have a conscience. Money doesn't know if it's coming or going. People make it. People spend it. It's just money, folks.

Your money. When your career's over, you'll have a pocketful of memories that will last a lifetime. Take care of business, and make sure you have some money in your pocket as well.