(Don't) Play By the Rules
I was walking on campus today back from our weekly gig at the University of Texas' South Mall, when I heard a member of the Young Conservatives of Texas speak. March 2nd is Texas Independence Day and so this fellow was preaching that if you work hard and play by the rules you too can lead a good life.
Maybe it's the skeptic in me, but it made me think, "What a bunch of crock!" Most people, including most musicians, work hard and play by the rules, but did you know that Americans carry, on average, $5,800 in credit card debt from month to month. Well I ask you, what kind of life is that when a huge majority of country is in unprofitable debt?
But I've been reading books like "Rich Dad, Poor Dad" recently, in an attempt to learn music business and finance skills from people who make millions. Do they follow the rules? Yes...sorta.
The questions that came to me as I walked by the Young Conservatives were, "Who makes the rules?" and "Are we following the Right rules?"
That's really the key that many successful business people learn. It's not a matter of are you following the rules. It's are you following the Right rules?
You see, our community is filled with rules on what you can't do, but there are also tons of rules that say what you can do, but most people don't know what they are.
Taxes are a great example. The average musician might not deduct things like car travel to and from gigs, or the cost of their picks, because they may not know that they can.
The same goes with promotion. Just because you're on MP3.com and get a dozen emails from other musicians in a form letter saying, "play my song", does not mean that you should put together your own form letter and spam thousands of musicians.
Or just because most musicians do their best to attract the attention of a Major label A&R or even the President, does not mean you shouldn't schmooze with the secretary.
The point is know the rules, but then look beyond them. The rules are a guide. They are not etched in stone. Break the rules. Do what others are NOT doing and you will do a better of job standing out in the crowd.
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© 2000-2014 Marc Gunn -- Austin, Texas