Why the MusicPreneur Business Will Fail

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In my interview with John Lee Dumas of Entrepreneur on Fire, I tried a little reverse tactic with my questioning. I told him that I wanted this MusicPreneur business to fail and asked for guidance on how to go about ensuring it would not succeed. It was so successful in the interview, I decided to try it on this blog post. It's a cheap trick, I know, but you're reading it right? So we know it works.

At any rate, JLD gave three suggestions on how to ensure this business would not succeed. I'm sure he could have given more if we had more than 15 minutes to talk, but they were pretty good nonethless.

  1. Don't offer anything for free.
  2. Don't niche until it hurts.
  3. Don't connect with your audience.

That is the key to failing in the MusicPreneur business according to John Lee Dumas, who most assuredly is not a failure in his own podcasting and book publishing business.

In this post, I'm going to expound beyond what John said in this podcast (which you should listen to if you haven't already) and then I'll add a few more things that, implemented properly, will ensure that I'm a failure in this business and work on a job until I'm wearing Depends™ and consider an extra yogurt at 3 pm one of life's great luxuries.

The topic of giving stuff away for free is probably the number one objection I've heard from listeners of my podcasts. I think people just don't understand the concept of providing value upfront in exchange for financial reward in the future.

Either that or they suffer from a weird mutation of affirmative action, meaning that musicians have suffered from oppression from "the elite" for so long, it's time to stand our ground and fight for what's ours.

Either way, it's clear that musicians by and large need some...let's call it private lessons in this area.

You must first of all understand that you need to earn the right to sell to someone. When I was going full swing in the Trumpet Dynamics podcast in 2016, I would occasionally mention "working for free" as a tactic to increase your visibility, or to get a letter of recommendation from someone who can help you land a gig somewhere. A better way to put that would be to say "work for no pay" but again, you're not reading this by accident.

To say "free" implies there is no reward whatsoever. But to say "for no pay" implies there is no financial reward but some other benefit of doing whatever it is you're doing that you hope will lead to a financial reward in the future.

Musicians who object to the concept of giving away their music forget that working for free pretty much got them where they are. Did they get paid to go to college? Did they get paid to practice? Did they get paid to audition for the band they play in?


They had to earn their bones and drink from the same cup of bitterness as everyone else - and for no pay.

A few musicians figure out either before or during college that they really don't need that piece of paper and either drop out or finish their degree in anthropology while earning real money at real gigs.

But we're not here because we want gigs gigs that someone else has booked.

We're here because we want to make it happen on our own, to carve out a niche that reflects our authentic self. That requires working for no pay and for longer than a day, a week, or a month; even a year, at least in my case.

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  1. Monica Dennis on 02/14/2017 at 2:01 PM

    I learned about JLD last month and have been listening to his podcasts while at work and during the commute. Other than liking to sing in my car, around my house, in my shower and just around my family, I have no music-related stories to share. Well, does my mother telling me as a kid that I should join the choir because I could sing and if I don’t use it I would lose it count as a story? I must have lost it. I won’t be cutting any record deals.

    I just stopped by to see what a musicpreneur does because I was curious, though I am probably almost as opposite from Lenny as I can get – except maybe for the education although he got his MA. Having my first child stopped that in its tracks and I’m really OK with it despite being one thesis and I think one class short of finishing.

    Anyway, I like your failure list. I feel like a nail. I’ve been hearing to narrow my target market and I’ve known I need to do that, but I’m hearing it more and more (I’m sure that’s no coincidence). I think you are the last hammer to drive that point home. So I’m going to get that book “Ask.” It sounds great. Thanks so much.

    • James Newcomb on 02/15/2017 at 10:32 PM

      Thanks for the comment, glad it was helpful for you 🙂

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