As a creative person, it can be a pretty big shift to think like a business owner. Entrepreneurial instincts aren’t exactly natural for all of us, just as musicality isn’t as natural for some as others. As I’ve worked with artists, songwriters, musicians and creatives of all kinds, I’ve found that creating a “mission statement” of sorts can get the ball rolling into a disciplined music business that is an authentic reflection of who you are.
“Authentic” is a word that’s a bit overused these days, however finding and embracing your authentic self as a creative entrepreneur in today’s world is perhaps the most important part of your journey to finding success. As an artist, it is what will draw fans to you and keep them there. As a music producer or audio engineer, authenticity builds trust and loyalty with your clients. As a songwriter, telling stories from a place of authenticity will keep your music fresh and relatable.
In the “authentic only” environment we have today, posers or fakers are relentlessly called out, and then inevitably, virtually crucified. That being said, the driving force behind finding your authenticity shouldn’t be fear, but a desire to find your place in this musical landscape and to find the people who feel they belong there with you; to create your own world and invite your “people” to join you. This is the very foundation of being a successful creative today.
Yes, there is still room for showmanship and even gimmicks, as long as it’s an extension of who you really are. I just had an interesting conversation with an artist about this. I was convinced he was making a choice with his branding that was confusing and off-putting. By the end of our conversation, I “got it”. I could clearly see that what wouldn’t work for most artists was perfect for him, as it reflected his rebellious spirit and a virtual finger to the establishment. He sold me on it because his feet were so solidly planted in his “authentic” self that I could see without a doubt that he wasn’t simply being stubborn, but was completely confident in who he is and has a clear vision of how he wanted people to experience his brand.
Finding who we are can be a process of digging, questioning, discovering, and peeling back layers. It should always start with these four questions:
- Why music? Keep asking why until you get to the very first rung of your purpose.
- What do you want people to feel and experience when they
- hear about you
- hear your music
- see you
- List descriptive words that explain your artistic persona. This doesn’t have to be your full personality but the persona you want to be associated with you as an artist. Quirky, confident, rigid, sarcastic, honest, mysterious, etc.
- What difference do you want your music to make in the world?
Take about 20 or 30 minutes to sit with these questions without distraction. Brain dump your answers with no filter on a piece of paper or note app.
Now, shape the answers to these questions into your official mission statement. Your mission statement should only be a paragraph long, not a full-page essay. If writing isn’t your skill set, ask for some help. Also bear in mind that it doesn’t have to be perfectly written, only that we the reader should have no questions about who you are, what you stand for, and what your “mission” with your music is.
Going forward, every move you make (on social media, in your fan newsletter, in your youtube engagement, or wherever) as a creative should align with your mission statement. If you contradict yourself one too many times, your fans will detect this lack of authenticity and lose interest. They may even question why they liked you in the first place. This should make it easy for you! You never have to worry about what someone else is doing or what the current trends are. Just Be YOU!