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A Musician's Life

Silhouette of trumpet player

I have a good friend I’ve known for years who did well in life as a business person and entrepreneur. As his early retirement neared he jumped deeply back into his college love of jazz and playing the trumpet. He did not fool around, he devoted himself to becoming a full-time musician although the need for money wasn’t there as it would be for most musicians.

He played everywhere he could and built his chops and the respect of fellow musicians, but he never left his experience as a businessman behind. He used it willingly and intelligently to his benefit, but as importantly to the benefit of others.

He understood that success as a musician was more than just about good chops. He knew how to think like a restaurant or venue owner. He knew how to think like the venue’s customer too! Sure, restauranteurs may love live music, but it’s what live music brings in the way of their bottom line that counts the most or certainly just as much. The music needs to fill the seats, and the seats need to be filled with paying customers, not just those sipping on water and not buying anything. Just like when a person goes into a coffee or sandwich shop with free Wi-Fi and sets up the office by taking a four-person table, spreading their stuff all over it like they own the place, hanging out for hours while drinking a $3 coffee. The math doesn’t work.

But as an artist, or in this case a musician, we have to be aware that our exposure has to be a two-way street and my friend knows how to talk with business owners because he knows what they expect. In doing so he forms a relationship that not only works for himself and the business owner, it, in turn, keeps other musicians employed. That a win, win, win, win situation. It’s good for the venue owner, good for the customers, good for my friend and good for his fellow musicians.

So, if you sell what you creatively do, always remember life is a two-way street for everyone as well as you! Art has to benefit everyone and have everyone be in the position to appreciate it. We have come to a time when many artists are having their creativity sucked out of them for nothing and that will only work for so long. But in the case of my friend, he realizes the full circle effect of this and uses good business to create opportunities that are fair for everyone. So, practice your craft and wish to make an income from it, adopt good business practices to not just survive but thrive.

Live an artful life,



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