Musicians ARE Entrepreneurs By Charlie Wall-Andrews , MA , MBA , CCIP
Many Canadian artists are successful entrepreneurs and businesspeople . But the business of making music is much more complex and nuanced than it might seem to those who are on the outside or new to the industry . To achieve sustained economic success in the current music industry , artists must leverage innovative technology platforms and tools while exhibiting motivation , risk-taking , resilience , and ample creativity — characteristics that many successful Canadian artists embody . It is important to note that these same traits are common amongst successful entrepreneurs in other industries worldwide .
Over the past 20 years , advancements in technology and changes in the music economy have motivated Canadian artists to embrace their entrepreneurial side . In the past , artists concentrated on their music , honed their craft , created great music , performed , and connected with their fans during events , typically depending on intermediaries to manage the business affairs . Conversely , the present economy and artists ’ use of highly innovative technical tools , such as digital streaming services , social media , and user-friendly data analytic platforms , has demonstrated that independent artists cannot rely on their antiquated methods to earn money . Fortunately , many Canadian artists have found success by adapting to and evolving with current trends in entrepreneurship and information dissemination .
As it stands , many Canadian artists are advocates of the value-first / money-later approach synonymous with entrepreneurs . This approach is simply a perspective that focuses primarily on adding value to one ’ s environment and solving problems , while viewing the money earned as a side benefit , not the primary goal . In examining this approach , similarities can be drawn between
musicians and technology entrepreneurs ; both are creative , innovative , technologically inclined , problem solvers , and fearless in their approach to risk . Like non-creative entrepreneurs , artists are self-starters . Rather than wait for opportunities , they take a proactive “ bull-by-the-horns ” approach . This level of initiative indicates that artists are striving to build their careers in some way — and embracing aspects of entrepreneurship .
While there is no denying that artists are entrepreneurs , some artists don ’ t acknowledge the title or possess an entrepreneurship mindset on a subconscious level . Some artists may also avoid the title because of their perception that it diminishes or deviates from their artistic craft and passion — music . However , parallels can be drawn between both artistic and non-artistic professions . For instance , an artist could easily double as an entrepreneur , with a profession that is a synthesis of artistic vision , creativity , interpersonal relationships , leadership , business acumen , and value-based marketing . Similarly , to non-artist entrepreneurs , artists simply turned their passion into a well-paying profession .
Many modern-day artists in Canada generally need the ability to find motivation from within — they are purely self-driven and proactive in their pursuit of success . Canadian artists often view business challenges as credible opportunities for growth and learning , while also possessing an astute business sense , as they understand the nuances of owning and operating within the music industry and other subsidiary enterprises that align with their craft .
The music industry is largely entrepreneur-centric , and artists have become aware of the potential in their careers . This is evident in the diversity of business endeavours Canadian artists are experimenting with , including modelling , paid advertisements , brand partnerships , merchandise sales , apparel collections , restaurant ownership , and music production .
Entrepreneurs are agile ; they are open to change and are prepared to capitalize on any opportunity such change affords . As a result of modern advancements in technology and increased accessibility and dissemination of information , artists now have a range of platforms to use for income , like Spotify , Apple Music , Tidal , YouTube Music , and Instagram . Additionally , Canadian artists ’ investment in the digital assets industry ( e . g ., NFTs , cryptocurrency , and tokens ) demonstrates their willingness to take risks and leverage technology to benefit their business potential . As we advance , the entrepreneurial opportunities for artists are endless — and artists are more motivated than ever to explore them .
Charlie Wall-Andrews is the Executive Director at the SOCAN Foundation and a Ph . D . ( ABD ) Candidate in Strategy and Entrepreneurship at Ted Rogers School of Management . In her role at SOCAN Foundation , she has created many programs to support music creators in Canada . In 2021 , she was recognized as one of Canada ’ s Top 100 Most Powerful Women . The views expressed in this article are of the author only .
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