10. The Starving Artist Sells Out to an Early Bidder

the thriving artist owns his work

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**This is Part 10 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!

And if nothing else, please purchase Jeff's book. Simply click on the image to do so.

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.

"While Gatekeepers may give you a payday, it always comes with a cost. Sometimes the big break can be a big trap." --Jeff Goins

True story: Someone offered to buy me out about 4 months into the MusicPreneur business.

Another person who uses the word "musicpreneur" in their business name called me up, told me they liked what I was doing with the podcast and offered an ownership stake in their business if I would produce the podcast for their business rather than my own.

And of course, transfer ownership of the musicpreneur.com url to them.

I was intrigued by the possibility of it. It was at a time when I was at a crossroads with where I was going with my podcasting career, so the timing was serendipitous.

I thought it could potentially be a powerful - not to mention lucrative - partnership.

Then I saw the offer.

1% ownership in exchange for my services as a podcast host and producer.

On the one hand, the offer makes sense - IF all I'm doing is producing a podcast.

I can continue to produce it, while pursuing other interests (such as performing, which is something I like to do) then cashing out for a small payday once (if) the shares mature.

But for one who is using the podcast to build a business, it's a horrible offer.

I would retain creative control (maybe) but lose all control over how to leverage the audience.

The disconnect occurred because all this person saw was James the podcaster, rather than James the entrepreneur who is using a podcast to build an audience and provide value to them.

Or perhaps he viewed me as potential competition and wanted to buy me out while I was still new in business, i.e. dirt cheap.

Either way, it didn't jive with my vision and goals as an entrepreneur, so I politely declined his offer.


One of my favorite musicians of all time is Don Francisco. He's a Christian artist who has a gift for telling stories from the Bible from the point of view of secondary characters. It's a unique experience and I recommend him if you're into that type of thing.

As a very young man, Don signed a contract with a company that served a lot of Christian artists. He quickly regretted it as the company was able to sue him for performing his own music outside of the bounds of their agreement.

Not exactly a Christian thing to do, but what can you do...

He had to completely change the format of many of his songs, including his most popular song, He's Alive, in order to re-publish them under his own label.

He's by no means an advisor to young musicians, but I have read articles by him telling the story and advising young artists to self-publish their own work as much as possible.

(Mental note: Get someone on the podcast who can talk about self-publishing.)

Young Don Francisco thought he was stepping into a blessing, but it was really a trap that cost him a lot of time and money to finally escape.


When you own your work, you get to call the shots. If you rely on "the system" to define your success as an artist, it will change soon enough. What makes you valuable one day will become obsolete the next.

This isn't to say there's never a time to sell out.

You don't want to pass up an opportunity that's legitimately profitable, or that will allow your venture to reach a level of success you wouldn't be able to reach on your own.

Of course musicians need things like managers, producers, publicists, etc. to do things they don't want to do or are just not good at.

The difference between the era of the MusicPreneur and that of say 20 years ago is those roles are subordinate to the musician, rather than vice-versa.


When you own your work, you call the shots on how it's performed, distributed and by whom.

The industry will sell you a bill of goods, promising "up front" money and then leave you to fend for yourself - all the while retaining ownership of your work.

Either way, you still have to work your tail off.

You still have to be "entrepreneurial."

I say that if you're going to be "entrepreneurial" with your music career, you may as well just go ahead and be a MusicPreneur.

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