12. The Starving Artist Despises the Need for Money

the thriving artist makes money to make art

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**This is Part 12 of a 12 part series based on the principles from Real Artists Don't Starve: Timeless Strategies for Thriving in the New Creative Age by Jeff Goins. If you would like these articles delivered directly to your inbox, then sign up for the musicpreneur.com mailing list using the form above!

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It's easily in the top 5 books that have hit me square between the eyes and caused me to take action in my life and career as a MusicPreneur.

"Money is the means to make art, but it must never be the master." -- Jeff Goins

I remember the day the MusicPreneur.Com business was created.

My mentor and I were brainstorming ideas.

In passing, he remarked how the business would be about "making money making music."

He looked at me and said, "There's a great tagline for your business."

He's made millions of dollars as an entrepreneur.

At the time, I hadn't made thousands, so I trusted his judgment and the MusicPreneur: Making Money Making Music business name was complete.


While I personally didn't see a conflict of interest in that title, I was concerned how it might be perceived by the musical community.

I didn't want to appear as though money should be the primary motivation for a musician to create their art.

There's kind of an unwritten rule among artists that business is best left to businessmen, while art is best left to the artists.

The more I thought about it, though, the more I realized that it's exactly the right title.

I remember one time in particular, while I was standing by my microwave waiting for my popcorn to pop, I was rehearsing introducing the podcast.

I said, "Hello, and welcome to MusicPreneur: Making Music Making Money."

I immediately caught the error.

But realized that there's actually some truth to that, not to mention a cool little mantra to go with it.

Put the Music first. The Money will follow.

This doesn't mean that making music is enough. You obviously need to let people know it exists via social media, through building an email list, etc. 

But it shows the value of having your priorities in the right place.

As David Cutler said in his interview for the podcast: "If money is your starting point for an arts-centered business, you're probably not going to succeed. However, if your art is your only focus, you're probably not going to succeed either."

Developing entrepreneurial skills to promote your music in no way compromises the integrity of it - when you do it for the right reasons.

What are the right reasons?

  1. To enable yourself to create more music.
  2. To share a message with others through your music.
  3. To live a lifestyle that is accommodating to creating art and music that reflects your authentic self.

There's an oft-misquoted scripture where Paul tells his young protege, Timothy, that "the love of money is the root of all evil." (1 Tim. 6:10)

Many starving artists, sometimes as a means of justifying their starving artist lifestyle, say that "money is the root of all evil." Therefore, you should tolerate it, but avoid contact with it as much as possible. 

It's a small error in semantics which causes a huge problem in one's way of thinking.

Money is not capable of making a moral judgment as to how it's used.

It does, however, amplify our character.

If someone is a jerk without money, they're an even bigger jerk with money.

If they're kind and generous without money, they're even more kind and more generous when they have it.

If you're responsible with a little bit of money, you'll be responsible when you earn a lot.

If you're irresponsible with a little bit of money, you may earn a lot, but you'll never be able to keep it.


It's important to view money as a means to an end, never as the end to which we strive.

If money is your # 1 goal, you'll never get it.

And if you do get it, you won't enjoy it.

If you view money as a way of enabling you to continue to create something of lasting value, you have a healthy attitude towards money.

Now go create something!

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