Do you remember that scene in Jerry Maguire, where Jerry (Tom Cruise) tells Dorothy (Renee Zellweger) that "tonight, our little project, our company, had a very big night."? There was an intensity in the room, a palpable excitement of what was happening. Today is that kind of day for me, albeit in a different way.
When I started considering going back into the entertainment industry, I called my long-time friend and former business partner, Kathy Douglas. Kathy and I started a company many years ago of which I was the flagship artist. I sold my half to her for a whopping $1. Yes you read that correctly, 1 (uno, one, un) dollar. Over the years, she turned that debt-riddled business into quite an entertainment company that benefits independent artists with everything from distribution to management and more. When I shared with her what I was considering, she immediately put me in touch with her current business partner, a woman by the name of Peggy Dold. Peggy was described to me as being one of the top 5 most powerful record execs in the Latin market. Out of those top 5, she is the only female, and the only anglo. I was certainly curious to meet her. The day I spoke with Kathy, she told me I should meet Peggy, who had just moved to Nashville a few weeks before. Funny thing, haha, I was LITERALLY on my way to Nashville with the family. I had a meeting with Peggy the very next day, and we talked for over 2.5 hours. While I've known Kathy for many years and know her to be a powerful business woman of integrity, I also found Peggy to be brilliantly insightful, with experience that speaks for itself. We connected on several levels, I felt, even beyond the talk of the current state of the music industry. They are a powerful duo, and although they have had tremendous success, I believe their best days in the entertainment industry are still ahead of them.
In my discussions with them, we began to talk about what it would take to launch me as an independent artist, as opposed to me trying to get signed by a label. The immediate sound of it caught my ear, as I'm an entrepreneur. The idea of owning my own record label and publishing company, as well as being the decision maker of what music is released and when, provides a unique combination of my love for music and for business. Much of the industry today is taking shape through independent artist, like Taylor Swift, for example. And while much of the hip-hop and rap world has always been independent, the rest of the music space has been, and will continue, to be disrupted by independent artists. I'm talking about people that you and I have never heard of, and never will hear of, who are traveling all over the world, making 6-7 figures a year, as an independent artist.
Takin' Care of Business
But how do the top independent artists do this? Well, they treat it like a business. I had to decide first off, will I treat this like a hobby, and play around in whatever place will book me? Will I just release music every-so-often, and just have fun? Maybe post some things to social media and a website, but really have no plan for building it beyond my own living room? Or, do I want to make a run for a larger audience, in which I'm touring, engaged in the artist community, and able to support my family? If I'm going to make a run to support my family through this, as well as build an audience that can change the world, then I need this to be financially sustainable. And that's what I've chosen. Some may say it's the difference between choosing a hobby and a business. I know some amazing artists who would say it's their way of life, but they are scraping by to make ends meet. We all know there are starving artists out there, and I don't knock them at all for their decisions. Perhaps if they knew of another way, they would choose it. I choose the business way, and yet, there's so much more that is to come through the expression of who I am in the world as an artist. I've learned in my years that life is less about "either/or", and much more about "both/and". I can be both an artist, and a business man. But the reality here is that I have neither the time, nor the space, that I want to dedicate this passion to as just a hobby. I have the reality of a family that I want to and need to take care of. I believe I can take care of them, AND go for my dreams. Ultimately, this is how I want to show up in the world, it's the life I want to live, and it's my contribution to the world.
So why is today a big day? Because for several months, I have been working to raise the first round of capital to engage my team in developing our marketing and business plan. Today, I HAVE FUNDED THAT PLAN!!
Over the next 45-50 days, my team will be deep into developing a plan that will take me from where I am to where I want to go. Of course, we know life turns out the way it does, but we are preparing a road map, while being ready and flexible to deal with whatever comes. There used to be about 5 ways an artist could make money in the music industry. Today, there are anywhere from 70-100 ways to monetize your art. Our plans will include many of those ways, in hopes of creating a movement that allows us to reach the world with hope and freedom through the arts. At the end of the 45-50 days, there will be another "number" that I will be responsible for raising. It's going to be a...number. Some will say it's big, others will say it's not so big, but either way, it IS a number. This plan, combined with it's budget, will be the roadmap for my career over the next several years.
It's a process
I have already been "stretched" in raising this capital for the first round, and it's already shaping me in who I'm becoming in this process. I think it MIGHT have been easier had I already been out there, touring, releasing music and such. But I am where I am, and that's ok, as it's created an interesting set of circumstances. I've had some amazing people who believe in me contribute to getting this started, and what I haven't raised, I'm bankrolling myself from the sale of our house. I'm going to look back on this one day and realize the significance of me investing in myself, putting my own money where my mouth, heart, mind, and desire are. I think it's a power move that is going to bring me tremendous freedom in many ways!
Today is a big day. Today, I'm betting on me, and for someone who has almost always put others first, it's exciting, exhilarating, and terrifying. Today is a big day, because we have figured out a way to fund this first phase. It's said that if you really want to do something, you'll find a way, if not, you'll find excuses. Well, I found a way! Today is a big day...
I'm going to look back on this one day and realize the significance of me investing in myself, putting my own money where my mouth, heart, mind, and desire are