Have you ever wondered what it would take to do all that you want to do? Huge dreams and goals take huge effort, right? Maybe, though, the most difficult thing thing is sending the first email, having the first conversation, creating the prototype ensemble. After that, we draft and refine until we have what matches our vision. The first step, though, that one’s a doozy. The difficulty makes it all the more important for you to take that step now.
Nothing focuses the mind like a hanging and a deadline. Sometimes deadlines are given to us and sometimes we create them ourselves. Musical entrepreneurship requires us to set our own deadlines for much of our work. Otherwise, why not wait until tomorrow? Because you own today.
Vision setting is a key part of musical entrepreneurship. Where do you want to go? What do you want to do? How can you make this group of people better than the sum of its individuals? It requires an idea, a dream of how the world could be better. These dreams can, should, and must be limitless. They should boldly reimagine the status quo, mix the new with the old, find new audiences. Dream, then work. When you look at the world, what do you see that you want to change?
In The Matrix, Morpheus tells Neo that there’s a “difference between knowing the path and walking the path.” The same is true for musical entrepreneurship. You can talk about it. See what you what you need to do. Understand the challenges and rewards of it. But never take a single step. It’s only by doing (sending an email, talking to someone, booking a venue) does one become an entrepreneur. Planning and dreaming is necessary but not sufficient.
When meeting another musical entrepreneur, one knows right away. They find details pertinent to entrepreneurship engaging and worth discussing. They want to know more about grants, about failures, interacting with venues, or further resources. They also have their own ideas about how to build on the music field. And you suddenly find yourself learning about them, how things have worked, and what hasn’t. You share stories about starting up groups. Before you know it, you’ve both learned something.
Does one choose to be an entrepreneur or is one chosen? One chooses in so much as no one will ever hold a gun to your head. Yet, those who take the path of the unknown tend to not feel at home in the regular world. Something is always slightly off. If you’re unsure, try starting an ensemble. If you fail and don’t try again, then you’re not one. If you fail and pick yourself up to try again, then you have the spirit musical entrepreneur.
One of the tricky things about being an entrepreneur is finding startup funding. There are many options, including loans, grants, donors, investors, crowdfunding, and still more. If you’re having trouble, look around. Each option is tough. Kickstarter is really Kickfinisher (according to Seth Godin). Grants require lengthy applications. Loans require something that returns a profit quickly. Make a choice and start applying.
*It’s the last week to apply for the Creative Capital Award. Up to $50,000 the application is free and only requires you to answer appropriate questions about a project. Consider checking them out at creative-capital.org.
When entrepreneurship mixes with music, it can be especially difficult to find support from friends and family. As mad scientists, we warrant encouragement to be something more stable, more traditional, more predictable. Yet, we must remember that there are others out there. We aren’t truly alone, but we can be hard to find. Yet, if we look, we can find those who are like us in the current and past generations.
When starting an ensemble there are many things that have to be done. No need to wait or hesitate. You already know what you should do. Here’s an invitation to send that first email or message or to set up that meeting. Start right now.
Entrepreneurial people are usually looked at with suspicion. We see things that others don’t see. We believe things others don’t believe, including different world views. We believe we have special powers—to tweak, to connect, and to inspire. We sit on the edge of “crazy.” We remain crazy until the idea takes off. Once others believe, then we become a little less crazy. But we can never shake off that bit of crazy. When others tell us we’re crazy mad scientists, then they’re telling us we’re on the right track.