Years ago, when the spark of entrepreneurship wasn’t even a glimmer in my eye, I had a job at a guitar factory in Tacoma, WA. The brand is called Tacoma Guitars and they have a solid overall reputation among guitarists. During breaks from my extremely tedious job of gluing pieces of wood together then running them through a sander, I would try my hand at some of the guitars that were in the break room. As you can imagine, a lot of guitar players worked there so they could play during breaks, get discounts, etc.
One of the guys would occasionally give me some tips on how to practice. One thing he said has stuck with me all this time and is a perfect analogy for being a MusicPreneur. Here is what he said:
“Practice your left hand and right hand simultaneously.”
Here’s what he meant. The right hand picks and strums the strings at the bottom, while the left hand works the frets. (Or maybe it’s the other way around. I didn’t exactly master the guitar.) Each hand has to learn how to do something completely different from what the other is doing. Rather than teach each hand its role individually, let them both learn in tandem. He told me that some of his students would get really good at either the left or right hand but couldn’t quite master using them both at the same time.
The MusicPreneur has two different “hands” we use in our work. One the one hand, we have to master our music, both individually and in a group. On the other hand, we have to master skills such as writing a blog, growing an email list, designing a website, among other things.
The good news is that those things on the “other hand” have been made pretty much idiot proof by their creators. After all, their main clientele are pretty much idiots when it comes to that kind of thing. You can design a pretty mean looking website for free on WordPress.com. Mailchimp allows you to make great looking emails and send them to up to 500 people for free. Minimal training is required to use these tools. (I’m actually preparing a series of free videos on how to utilize these tools. Enter your email address below and I’ll keep you in the loop when they’re available 🙂
If you say that your priority is mastering your music, then I say that your priorities are in the right place. But don't make the mistake of thinking that your talent will enable you to succeed in today's market. The days of hibernating in a practice room at a conservatory and then getting hired by a band or orchestra based on talent alone are, for all intents and purposes, over. You need to learn these skills if you want to monetize your creative talents.
Let's say you practice 2 hours a day. Or even 8 hours. Do you have an hour each day you can devote to writing a 50-word blog post, then sending that same post as an email via Mailchimp? I think you can. It's just a matter of making it a priority. Maybe you like to play a video game to help unwind. Is there a lesson in that video game you can share with your audience? Keep your message on point with what is going on in your life and your mind. That's what people want to hear. They want to know, like and trust you.
The skills on the "other hand" i.e. building an audience, keeping up a blog, etc. don't take as much time as mastering an instrument, but they do take time and need to be maintained regularly. It is not only possible to do both simultaneously, it's very rewarding. You can develop your skills as a musician and allow people who follow you via a blog or email series to get to know you and watch you develop. Don't wait until you've put in your 10,000 hours of practice (a la Malcolm Gladwell) to gain a following. Start now. It will keep you accountable. And once you've reached that playing level you want, they'll be chomping at the bit to consume your content.
So, if you didn't get all of that, then get this: