(This is written especially for college level music students, young musicians considering a career in music and recent music conservatory grads…but also anyone else in the music or arts.)
Many musicians and artists treat “selling” like a nasty disgusting word. They feel that “selling” means “selling out” and I am here to say – that is not the case. I say – selling music is cool, hip and fun!
Selling is the very oldest profession in the world despite what you may have heard otherwise. It is very noble. Without a sale of some sort, nothing moves.
In all areas of life, whether it’s the invention of smartphones, computers, restaurants, movies, hardware, clothing, housing, toys, you name it – the sale of something is the essential fuel to keep all of it going.
The sales person is the link that makes it all possible so that creativity and innovation can in fact, continue.
So, if you want to be the best in your field, you will need to sell something and selling your music is the surest way for you to stay involved with your music.
Even J.S. Bach sold his musical skills. He had point by point contracts with the towns in which he lived, and constantly re-negotiated financial improvements to his current deals. He was a master composer and salesperson!
Like many musicians I used to think “I am not a salesperson, I am a musician and I shouldn’t have to do this crappy work!”
I’d then be very upset when I had to “sell” because there was a clash with my self concept (“I’m a musician”) and my actions (“I am selling, but I shouldn’t have to deal with selling.”).
I think that many musicians share this “glitch” in their mental-emotional wiring.
Most music schools don’t tell you the following, but should:
- When you get out of school, the only way you will survive is by selling something, be it music or otherwise.
- If you work at a music school as a teacher or office person you are selling your time and expertise.
- If you work anywhere you are selling your time and skills.
- If you play a gig you are selling your skills and providing the venue, promoter and audience with something valuable.
- If you have a recording studio you are selling time, use of equipment and skills.
- If you are not selling your music, then you may have to sell your soul because you will have to sell something.
So doesn’t it seem like the science and psychology of selling should be addressed? Funny that it’s not. It’s a taboo topic like porn or something.
School gives you the “what to sell” but not the “how to sell.” Your musical chops won’t sell themselves all the time.
Your words, dress appearance but most of all, your MIND – help you sell your musical skills, products and expertise. Getting good at selling means you don’t have to sell your soul and it insures that you can spend your future as a creative musician. That’s what Bach did!
Selling is a skill like any other. Pro sales people rehearse, strategize and think. Amateur sales people “wing it” and get spotty results.
If you are not interested in selling, I say get interested now, because either you’ll be selling your music or you’ll be selling something else….maybe your time working for someone else with a vision stronger than yours!
The main lesson here for you is to have the “shift” inside yourself to know that selling is ok, it’s noble, it’s necessary. This is the beginning of the “inner game”, which must occur before the outer game of “selling combat” can begin.
To pay your rent and eat – you will need to sell something. Tell me, what will you sell?