80/20 Your Work

80/20 Your Work

Humans tend to get stuck in patterns and continue doing things simply because “we’ve always done them that way,” even if there’ s a better way to do something or it no longer serves a purpose. Every now and then, it’s important to evaluate how you’re spending your time and cut out things that once has a purpose, but no longer generate the desired results so that you can focus on the...

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An AI Goes to College…

An AI Goes to College…

I had lunch recently with the VP of Enrollment at Berklee College of Music and on the way back to our offices, I asked him a question that had been poking around in my head: “ When do you expect Berklee’s first AI (artificially intelligent) applicant?” The question threw him a bit. “Do you expect this in our lifetimes?” Last year I would have answered, “Well, maybe in the next...

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Designing a Path Through Change

Designing a Path Through Change

While watching a video recently about a “design thinking” firm, the thing that struck me most was the variety of people they employed for their consulting teams. One was an opera singer, another a physicist, still another was a UI (user interface) designer. The thing they all had in common was problem-solving expertise. The fact that the firm drew talent from across the spectrum intrigued...

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Intentional Networking Plan

Intentional Networking Plan

Networking is a low-cost, high-time marketing strategy. There are very few shortcuts here – relationships grow encounter after encounter, and it’s inevitably counterproductive to rush them. Whether you are new to networking or a connector-maven, you can benefit from taking time to grow your own relationship network. Taking time means putting intention and imagination into your relationships....

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Musical Skills = Entrepreneurial Skills

Musical Skills = Entrepreneurial Skills

In interviews conducted for my book Indie Business Power, I asked some questions designed to pull deeper thinking out of my interviewees, all of whom were trained musicians and, subsequently, entrepreneurs. I asked them to take a look at the business settings they’ve found themselves in throughout their careers and to identify the skills, attributes, and lessons from their music experience...

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Career Mash Up 7

Career Mash Up 7

Some more food to feed your career thinking and doing. Enjoy. The Essential Conflict Between “Art” & “Business”. “Here’s how I define a successful business meeting. All participants learn the goals that each wants to accomplish. We agree upon those goals, and we lay out a path to achieve them. I leave with clear expectations of steps and parameters including tasks, deadlines,...

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Taking Time to Grow Your Business

Taking Time to Grow Your Business

While technological changes are indeed bringing down the cost of creation, the costs of marketing remain high. Many of us are crunched for time, deluged by information, and paralyzed by the weight of too many choices. All the more reason to step back from the bustle and re-orient ourselves to the things that will return the most in terms of real, enduring value. Here are some thoughts along these...

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Minding the Gap

Minding the Gap

I’ve been reading some interesting business history lately. One thing I’m learning is that some of the most innovative business ideas have emerged during times of economic duress. Since duress marks our times as well, I thought I’d share the following list with you (published originally in one of my recent books). Check it out.   The Great Depression 1930: 3M pours profits...

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Planning With the Big Picture in Mind

Planning With the Big Picture in Mind

There is a quote by Alvin Toffler I’ve always liked: “You’ve got to think about ‘big things’ while you’re doing small things so that all the small things go in the right direction.” What are the “big things” he’s referring to? Well, if you’re familiar at all with his work (Future Shock, Where the Wasteland Ends, Third Wave, etc.), you’ll know that Toffler’s focus is on...

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Courting the Muse: A Simple Guide to Invoke the Creative in You

Courting the Muse: A Simple Guide to Invoke the Creative in You

You sit by your “thinking chair” and across the room lays your electric guitar—unplugged and staring back at you as if it waits to be held. Your musical sheet is still empty and your pen is running out of ink. Right now all you can hear is a mix of chaotic noise struggling to find peace in a blank score sheet. What are you going to do? For musicians and band artists, it’s pretty much...

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New Models: The Creative Collective

New Models: The Creative Collective

Artists today are on a continual hunt for business models that will provide structure for their creative work and stimulation to their careers. With an industry in creative disruption, there is little in the way of the  “tried and true” to latch onto. The ground is shifting and the “new music economy” hasn’t yet found a footing. But there are signs of solution as we begin to see...

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Mashing it Up in the Cultural Swill

Mashing it Up in the Cultural Swill

We are all immersed in an ever-growing media environment – an environment just as real and just as affecting as the natural one from which it somehow sprang.  Today we are surrounded by canned ideas, images, music, and text. And so “creating” today is the act of appropriating and (re)combining what’s already there. I want to share a few thoughts on this and also hear yours. Some say the...

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The Band/Club Partnership

The Band/Club Partnership

The key to getting more and better gigs is positioning your act as a partnership with the venue, and then communicating the benefits your act will provide it. Your job is to convince the booker that it would be to the club’s advantage to have you play there. How do you do this? First, emphasize the crowd you will draw. Even if it’s just fifteen people, let them know. Second, stress...

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Weaving Your Web of Relationships

Weaving Your Web of Relationships

Music is a who-you-know/who-knows-you kind of business. The quantity and quality of your relationships will be the primary engines of your career progress. This goes without saying in a business where “word of mouth” both amps notoriety and qualifies value. Nothing feeds creativity more than linking up with other creative people. Sharing challenges, sparking ideas, discovering unusual...

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The Shape-Shifting Future

The Shape-Shifting Future

The pace of change can numb us and even make us give up trying to understand the meaning of our rapidly unfolding future. In a sense, we’re all strapped into a roller coaster that has taken off without our permission, blurring our surroundings at warp speed, and not quite clear on a destination. That’s why I appreciate ‘big-picture’ thinkers like Michael Malone. He helps lift us to that...

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The Freelancer Mindset, Pt. 3

The Freelancer Mindset, Pt. 3

Of all the challenges that freelancers face, nothing matches in difficulty the everydayness of business ownership. It exists from the moment you wake up until the moment you collapse in exhaustion at the end of the day. It’s exhilarating, terrifying…..and constant. What keeps this relentless routine from taking undue toll on you is the management systems you put in place. Good planning...

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The Freelancer Mindset, Pt. 2

The Freelancer Mindset, Pt. 2

If you’re going to be on your own, you won’t have a boss setting agendas and assigning projects. You will be the chart-setter. You will be the time organizer. You will be the gig-creator. This means planning, and planning means first setting goals. Some people absolutely love this part of freelancing. They’re planners at heart.  They enjoy describing themselves as...

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The Freelancer Mindset, Pt. 1

The Freelancer Mindset, Pt. 1

In a sense, we are all freelancers today.  Whether you live week to week on short term projects, or work as a minion in a corporate department, the challenge is to manage your projects like an expert juggler and nurture your relationships like Dr. Phil. It is this continuous and creative orchestration of work and relationships which helps us thrive, and allows us to contribute our own special...

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Finding Your ‘Adjacent Possible’

Finding Your ‘Adjacent Possible’

Forging creative alliances is key to building a multi-dimensional music career. Teaming up can multiply your efforts and move your career in an upward trajectory.  Traditionally, musicians joined with “professional” teammates like management companies, high-level booking agents and established record labels.  This still goes on, but in the DIY era we’re increasingly seeing artists and...

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Smart Tip for Hooking Media Interest

Smart Tip for Hooking Media Interest

Media coverage remains one of the best ways to get your signal through all the noise out there. As we daily battle with “data smog”, people are finding themselves gravitating to reliable media sources for news, for information, and for point of view. So media in all its forms remains a valuable channel for exposure and promotion. Today there are more media than ever before and they all need...

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Inch Wide, Mile Deep

Inch Wide, Mile Deep

In study after study of successful individuals, one trait found to be common among them is this: they were all highly focused.  At some point along the way, they had each realized that they had to make a commitment to one business idea. And, in fact, many of them had to make difficult choices and let go of some possibilities that seemed appealing. People don’t focus for a number of reasons:...

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How to Add ‘Value’

How to Add ‘Value’

We’ve all heard the phrases ‘adding value’ and ‘value-add’. But have you ever stopped to ask, what is ‘value’? Well, in this context, value is the full-spectrum impact your product or service has on your customer. Value should not be equated with price. Price is merely one aspect of the total value you deliver. Value is essentially what your company...

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Tips for Using Third Party Music License Services

Tips for Using Third Party Music License Services

With the explosive rise of indie music and the Internet there has been an equal explosion of music licensing services to hit the scene. Zynch Music, Sorted Noise, CopyCat Music, Agoraphone, Primary Elements and VersusMedia are just six of the numerous services that have popped up. Recognizing the value of the content in its online store, CDBaby has also branched into this part of the biz,...

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Context and Career Opportunity

Context and Career Opportunity

Every spare moment of our time is being filled with some form of commercial connection. Our e-mail, voice mail, and cell phones, our twenty-four hour trading markets, instant around the clock ATM and online banking services, all night e-commerce and research services, 24/7/365 television news and entertainment, twenty-four hour food services, pharmaceutical services, and maintenance services, all...

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Make Customers, Not Sales

Make Customers, Not Sales

During tough economic times it’s easy to default to things that will turn (or save) a quick buck. One less phone call, one less follow up, one less email because, hey, there isn’t enough time, and I need to eat! Short term thinking like this corrodes our long-range vision, and those compromises can slowly eat away at the foundations of business. For your customers to have a good opinion of...

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Too Many Music Services?

Too Many Music Services?

I don’t know about you, but I’m getting a little dizzy from the flood of music services hitting the market each week. Soundcloud, Mixcloud, Grooveshark, Audiovroom, Audiosocket, Ujam, Rdio, MOG, TuneStat and ScoreBig are roaring in next to “veteran” services Nimbit, CDBaby, Reverbnation, Sonicbids, Tunecore, Topspin and Bandcamp. Then, making less noise but still vying for position, are...

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The Color of Focus

The Color of Focus

Concentration is the secret of strength in politics, in war, in trade, in short in all management of human affairs.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson Unless you were born under a rock, you probably are familiar with the name Crayola. It is the most popular and recognized crayon brand in the world. Every year, Binney & Smith, the company that makes Crayola products, manufactures nearly 3 billion...

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Every Business is a ‘Music Business’

Every Business is a ‘Music Business’

Every business is becoming a music business; more accurately, an entertainment business. Toyota started a record label. So have Artois Brewery, Proctor & Gamble, and Levi’s Jeans. Apple Computer, Red Bull and Nike, three companies outside the orbit of the traditional music business, have spearheaded successful initiatives in the music space that record companies themselves seem...

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Sharpening Your Distinction

Sharpening Your Distinction

Put on your marketing hat for a moment. As any serious business owner knows, a key element of their strategy will be the positioning statement. Popularized by Al Ries and Jack Trout’s seminal work, Positioning: The Battle for Your Mind, “positioning” refers to how your offering is differentiated among similar ones. As the Ries/Trout title suggests, positioning isn’t just...

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Need Help Conducting Your Business?

Need Help Conducting Your Business?

Of all the challenges that entrepreneurs face, nothing matches in difficulty the everydayness of business ownership. It exists from the moment you wake up until the moment you collapse in exhaustion at the end of the day. It’s exhilarating, terrifying…..and constant. What keeps this relentless routine from taking undue toll on you is the management systems you put in place. Good...

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