Successful Artists Think Like Entrepreneurs

I first interacted with singer songwriter Joey McGee during a Q & A session after a talk I gave about the V-REEL™ Framework for strategy development. Joey cut right to the chase with the question: “How does this work for a creative, a musician?”

Strategic Thinking for Artists

Artists often don’t think along business lines when they start out because they’re swept away with the creative process. For some creatives, “strategy” might even sound like a bad word. But long-term success in any art form must be built on more than just talent and drive. Even those who are lucky enough to enjoy a meteoric rise to the top of the rock star pile won’t manage to achieve any sort of longevity unless they can identify their value and rareness, along with their eroding factors, and work to put key enablers in place.

Conceptualizing Artistic Value and Building Strategy

Knowing what your customers value is key in any business, and that’s why the V of V-REEL™ comes first. While the need to identify that value is no different when the business is an art form, it can be a little more difficult to pin down. What makes an oil painting or a song or a piece of fiction speak to us? How do you determine the value of something that is so personal and subjective?

When I asked Joey how he thinks about the value his music brings to his audience, he said that learning his own value as a musician has been something of a revelation. It wasn’t until after his first album was released and people started telling him how they felt about his music that he was able to put his value into words.

“What I bring to the table, whether I’m playing in a restaurant or at a festival, is a sense of joy,” he said. “It’s the expression of who I am at my core.”

It was through connecting with his audience that Joey began to understand his value and thus began to understand what his strategy needed to be. If you are an artist, musician, writer, etc., you are your primary source of value but your ability to be rare and achieve longevity in the fiercely competitive creative marketplace depends on you and so much more than your art.

“Unexpected opportunities show up just because of being involved; because of relationships,” he said. “I’m learning the importance of staying connected and letting folks know what you’re doing.”

And this is true of virtually all entrepreneurs, regardless of industry. Relationships are often the single most important distinguishing factor is business. The relationships you have can open doors and get you that next gig. Relationships are a key enabling factor.

“As a musician, a huge eroding factor is the amount of music that’s out there,” he said. “The market is saturated.”

Most artists don’t think of themselves as entrepreneurs. Joey acknowledged that he’s actually in the sales business and he is the product. By thinking through V-REEL™, he was able to identify key enablers, prioritize how he should spend his time and work strategically on growing his music business…spreading joy all along the way. Whether your an artist flexing your entrepreneurial muscle or you’re looking for insights into strategic thinking for an entirely different industry, I think you’ll gain great insights from the conversation with Joey, complete with a bit of original music.