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Tuesday, October 04, 2011

What’s money got to do with it?

Today I coached one of my favorite Artist Clients (we work together every month on her music career goals), and the subject of money came up. It came about after she did my Circle of Personal Perspective Exercise (you can find that in my book, Just Get Out There), whereby she perceived her professional goals at a 4 out of 10, less than half. I asked her why she put such a low number, especially after all the work she has been doing in fulfilling her dreams and working on her goals. She replied that it was because even though she has been doing a lot, she isn't making any money from it, and so therefore didn't value her progress.

I  reminded her about the chapter I have in my book Just Get Out There, as well as the whole ethos about being a professional artist, in my first book I AM A Professional Artist.

Simply put, I have come to the conclusion from my writings and interviewing other artists, and also how I live my life as an artist, that being a Professional Artist does not mean you have to be making money from your Art. It's a hard pill to swallow even in our enlightened culture, because as a child we and even our parents have been taught that self-value comes from a "good ol' fashioned" job that pays well and affords you all the things you need in this life. I don't want to get into politics in this blog, but I will say that our Western culture emphasizes a definite lenience to "living to work" in our capitalist society, where schools push subjects based on what jobs you can get, and the Arts are pushed aside as electives only, and not mandatory, because it doesn't feed into our "jobs society".

 But what if we were brought up to enjoy the Arts, where music, art and dance were encouraged, and where careers in the Arts were respected. Imagine our own self-esteem about following our artistic passions? It would create an entirely different society.

I believe that money can be made in the Arts, and millions and billions of dollars; but if you are not making money, or very little, that doesn't mean you are any LESS of a talent or SUCCESS as an Artist. I will go to the extreme to say, don't let how much money you are making or not making determine your feeling of SUCCESS as an Artist. Look at the journey itself: the "art of doing"/actions your are taking; being prolific in making your Art; how your music touches people and changes people's lives; your personal satisfaction after a day's work. These kinds of things should be the barometers of your success.

Here's more about money, in my chapter "What's Money Got To Do With It", from my book Just Get Out There

“What’s love got to do, got to do with it…” sings Tina Turner. I just love that song. When it comes to a bad relationship, love ain’t gonna fix it! You need only yourself. I see the same with money and this funny game of the music business (film business, Arts business… put your word in before ‘business’ and you get the same feeling).
Money doesn’t fix it. You cannot buy happiness and if your dream was to just have lots of money, then what are you going to do with it? Money serves a purpose – it’s supposed to come in and go out. It’s a by-product of your real work, and it’s a tool to create. That’s it. Money will afford you luxuries but the more you spend will decrease your wealth. Wealth is what you spend, not what you make.

The language of money
This is an interesting chapter to place after discussing ‘detachment’.  I was sitting around the coffee table with a few Artists one day and one of them brought up an issue she was facing: her “struggle with money”. She clearly spoke about the fact that she constantly faces money issues when it comes to creating and promoting her music, and it’s always at the forefront of her mind. “I have a struggle with money”, she proclaimed.
I immediately understood why. You see, language plays a vital role in influencing what actually happens to us. If you portray a “struggle” with something, then struggle you will have. If you see that the only relationship you have with money is one that is stressful, negative and emotionally fighting, then that is what you will attract. I have always promoted the “I AM” theory, which means that by empowering yourself through words, e.g. I AM a talented, professional Artist… it helps attract that into your life. So, in reverse, if you empower the words “I have a struggle…”, then indeed you will struggle.
Perhaps a more positive statement to make would be “I am working towards having an increasing abundance of money.”  See how this changes it? The more you can vocalize positive, healthy statements about money, without having to lie, the less of a problem you will have with it. But even then, saying you are “working towards” something, says that’s exactly what you’ll get… “working towards”, and not actually “having”.
There is a fine line with money and language. You don’t want to say you have a struggle with it, yet how do you physically get out of the struggle and be abundant? Let’s get real here! We can’t just all go around saying “I have money and I’m abundant” when it doesn’t correlate with the bank account.
Money, wanting money, or not having enough money is the biggest question I get when I conduct an Artist Empowerment workshop. It’s easy for me to respond, “well, if you change your language it will all work out”, but obviously there’s more to it, to actualize financial abundance.
Mindset: changing your language isn’t enough. You have to be ready internally for a change. Years and years of negative build up can take a long time to change your mindset; your thought processes. You may say positive things about money, but inside feel the lack of it. Maybe you had a tough upbringing, always doing without, always tightening the belt.
Maybe you can’t think beyond the 9 to 5 that weighs you down because you don’t like the job. When you don’t like the job, then you tend to not like the money you make. Negative energy transfers over to your money making skills. For example, if you worked at a bank and hated your job, and you weren’t making much money by the hour, then your whole feeling about working might feel hard, and the money you make may feel like it was so hard to earn, that if you even thought for a moment that you could earn money elsewhere, you feel hardship in just the concept of doing that.
So it’s about changing your attitude about money, and making money, and ultimately, get to a place where you’re not thinking so hard about making the money, but just focusing on making the Art.

Focus mostly on creating
Remove money as the objective in your life, and just create. Create Art. Money comes. Easy. Right? Well, not for those who feel they need lots and lots of money to make their Art (or distribute it). So in these changing economic times, I suggest that as Artists we can think outside the box, and learn to create, produce, market and distribute with less money, or little money, rather than thinking we need a million dollars first. Let the millions come after you make the Art! This might be easy for me to write about and I totally understand the difficulty in absorbing this, with the debt collector knocking on your door, but let me put it another way: Again, wealth is what you spend, not what you make.

So if you reduce your spending, all ‘round (not just in Art making, but in all areas of your life), cut up those extra credit cards, and budget for the week (really… write a budget down), then you minimize the overheads. You may still make the same amount of money you did before, but you’re spending less; hence, more savings.

There is no point spending the huge amount of Dollars, Euros or Yen on producing music these days when every Tom, Dick or Harry can create music on a Mac in their bedroom, and every Jane, Karen or Jenny are uploading their songs onto MySpace, You Tube, iTunes, with no inventory costs and quick download options. This world has become instantaneous. That means, you can make it quick, upload it quick, and sell it quick. Unfortunately, gone are the days where you spend months and a ton of money on a huge, big budget music production. So thankfully you don’t need lots of money to do that.

And that goes for the rest of the music making and promoting area: distribution and marketing is taking on new forms online and for independent Artists, you can find ways to promote yourself without the big bucks.
Understandably, you do need to spend money to make money. You’ll need some to invest in the creation of your Art (make a film, record an album) plus all the marketing and promotion that goes into that. Don’t forget education along the way including the occasional research, consultations and advice. But this is ALL an investment into yourself and your product, with the prospect of a return. This is a business decision, not flippant spending. It’s all part of the bigger vision. So budget yourself, do the math, and enjoy the process.

My recommendation is the do it all spend thrift; live and create within your means. Then, when the seed starts to grow and you gain fans, industry awareness, and people starting to believe in you, and you’re making money from the different diversified talents that you have, then use that money (invest back into your business) to build upon what you started. Focus on making great music. Just get out there and plant the seeds around. All of a sudden, over time, you’ll see money coming in when you least expected it, and hopefully lots of it.

That my friends, is called abundance, and even better when it becomes passive income. You see, passive income is the best income you can have. It’s income you receive when you don’t notice it; when you aren’t counting the minutes in the hour to get that $10. It’s usually from royalties, and digital distribution income, and other streams that come in, without you working the hour for it (though you did a lot of homework and ground work to set it up).

* * * * *

Exercise: managing your money

1.Write down 5 ways you can reduce your expenses in your life. This could be either in “extras” you buy, or eliminating credit cards, or cutting out certain luxuries you don’t need.

2.Tally up the money you think you can reduce in a month. Then, open up a savings bank account which will be just for your music and Art. Put the money you didn’t spend on other “extras” into your savings account.

3.At the end of 6 months, see how much money is in your savings account, that you would have spent on other areas.

All you need to focus on is creating.
Create good Art.
Don’t worry about the money. It will come. If you focus on creating money, you’ll get all the obstacles in the world trying to create your Art.

by Gilli Moon

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