One of the reasons I became a coach was to help artists live more financially stable lives. I detest the “starving artist” trope and I actively work towards eradicating it. Limiting beliefs around money abound in the arts and are usually passed from teacher to student, colleague to colleague, and institution to employee/contractor like a cold through the entire cast during tech week. Divas, let’s get you optimizing for time freedom and financial freedom in your lives.
Your 29 Days to Diva – Day 15 Assignment: Make more money as a musician
You don’t need to be a math/accounting whiz or live a totally ascetic lifestyle to make more money as a musician. It does require you to confront some of your money stories as well as think more actively about income in your life. Understanding your revenue is an important initial step. First, you’ll want to identify all of your income streams. If you’ve already listed your offers, this should be straightforward. Identify how much you’re making annually from each of your income streams. Does the revenue from each income stream happen consistently over the year or does it tend to coalesce around certain times or events? Do you have any low-or-no-income producing months that happen at the same time every year? Many professionally creative people live a variable income life which means that earned or contributed income is not always received in the same amount each month.
Increase your awareness of funding opportunities
I share a lot of funding and job opportunities to my social media accounts. Sometimes my colleagues will tell me that they think I have some sort of crystal ball or that I have a special pipeline to these opportunities. It’s not magic, it’s the algorithm. The algorithm also helps me because when I “share” or “bookmark” opportunities (even if they’re not specifically relevant to me), the algorithm knows to put more of the same in my feed.
I try to make sure that I understand the funding landscape available to me as much as possible. That means that I’m looking for local, regional, and national arts council/arts agencies for funding opportunities. These could be grants, fellowships, prizes, sponsorships, or research budget money. When I say “looking”, please read that as I SIGN UP FOR THEIR MAILING LISTS AND QUICKLY PERUSE THEM EVERY SINGLE TIME THEY COME OUT. I also think about organizations that fund “affinity groups.” That means that I’m on the mailing list for all of the advocacy organizations that support classical music, contemporary classical music, and multi-disciplinary art.
- Who do you know that can tell you where to look for more of these opportunities?
- What kind of trigger can you enact to help you systematically research funding opportunities?
- How often am I applying for funding? What will I do to increase the frequency of applying for funding?
Raise your prices
As I was writing this post, I had this paragraph happening after “grow your client base.” But, I switched it around because I have found that most of my clients need help giving themselves permission to increase their fees/prices. Most of the professionally creative folks I’ve worked with are actively undercharging for their services. First and foremost, I want your to set YOUR OWN prices (not follow someone else’s prices) based on your business and your financial needs. Then, I want you to make a plan for when you’ll automatically increase your prices. I do it annually based on my annual income goal and what feels like the right amount to me for that year. (If you need help with this, please, please, please come coach with me.)
- How will you make more income in each one of those streams (scale your prices)?
Grow your client base
You will need to identify and cultivate potential buyers for your products and services. If you want to sell more of a specific offer you have, you will definitely need to understand who wants to buy that. Next, you will need to ask them to hire you for a specific service or ask them to buy a product. Most of the professionally creative people I engage with are uncomfortable with this part so they spend most of their energy on low-converting indirect asks. Remember pitch, submit, apply, ask? This is the time! Increase your number of pitches, submissions, applications, and asks to grow your income.
- How will you encourage more people to pay you in those areas (scale your customer base)?
Develop new income streams
I have never been more grateful for a portfolio career and/or diversified income streams than when the pandemic hit in 2020. I hope that we never experience something like that ever again. But, we can learn from it and try to make ourselves more financially stable in the process. Do you have any skills or services that you can offer and build a customer base for that aren’t currently represented in your public-facing materials? Passive income is a popular topic. In addition to that, I’d love for you to think about which of your offers are in-person and which can be done remotely.
- Which additional income streams can you develop in the next 3, 6, 12 months (scale your offerings)?
- Which additional project-specific funding opportunities will you focus on applying for in the next 3, 6, and/or 12 months?
- Do you have any passive income opportunities that you have not fully developed?
Focus on your income-producing activities
Do the thing that is the straightest shot between here and getting you paid.
- Send any outstanding invoices/follow-up on invoices
- Book a gig
- Schedule a new student
- Send a direct ask to a lead to coach/study/commission you
- Pitch a donor or sponsor
- Apply for a funding opportunity
Organizing your office, touching up your scores, updating your website, and even (gasp!) practicing are not income-producing activities. Calling a commissioner or asking a presenter to book you IS an income-producing activity because it leads right to a sale!
I want to make sure I mention this here: I am a big fan of parallel careers and non-music-related jobs. Please be aware if your narrative is forcing you to only survive financially on music-related income streams. This post is about creating a healthy financial picture. I do not encourage anyone to give up income/profit because it’s not directly tied to their art-making practices. What I really want you to think about is optimizing for time freedom and financial freedom. Too many musicians overwork themselves and underpay themselves because of their money stories and I think that’s awful.
Non-income-proudcing activities making up the bulk of your schedule is an important symptom of the overwork/underpay money story at play. You are the person who decides if you’re volunteering your time and whether or not that’s a positive exchange of value. You’ll need to practice saying, “Yes, I’d love to be involved. What’s your budget for this?” Or, “Thank you so much for thinking of me, my fee for something like this is $X. Let me know if you’d like to take the next step together.”
- How can you focus more on income-producing activities that help support your long-term goals?