It's been a while since I've updated this blog with a new entry. But I was inspired by several conversations that I've had recently. It is very rare that the creative and the businessman are one and the same, and I wanted to talk about why.
If you're a musician, you've likely at one point in your life (or a lot longer) wondered "How am I going to make money from this?" And you come up with very simple ideas for how your life is going to go. You think about the gigs that you're going to have, or the commissions that you're going to get, or the royalties you'll receive over time, but you never really think about the details of how any of those are going to happen. Maybe you don't even think about the numbers behind the work you're getting; you're just happy to be getting work. Does this sound familiar?
You often hear from your family growing up that music isn't a viable career and that it's too hard to get into. I don't think that's true at all. It is far more accurate to see that it's difficult to balance the creative work that you put into your craft as a performer or a composer with the behind-the-scenes work of building your business so that you can get returning customers and consistent work. Balancing these things is a must, and that's the reason so many young musicians fail to make it in the business. Let me be clear though: I'm not saying that it's from lack of trying or lack of effort, but rather lack of interest.
I know artists who are more dedicated to their craft than other, more financially successful artists. As cruel and shallow as it may be to say, if you want to make a living as an artist, you're probably not going to only be making exactly what your own vision is. You'll probably be working on commissions for others that are their visions, working on another project where someone is in charge of you, or making art whose intent is to please others and hopefully get their money. Understandably, many artists become frustrated with this business aspect of things and they decide that they're not going to alter their own artistic desires and visions just to get money.
Like it or not, this is often what separates the financially successful artists from the rest.
When you're writing music for film and video games (and this is a lesson that I have had to learn the hard way), you cannot afford to be stubborn and overly protective of your art. If you are, you need to change your mindset. Rather than thinking that a game developer or filmmaker is hindering your artistic vision or ruining your music, think about the function of your music. You're not making art for the sake of art. You're making art to enhance someone else's art. And while it is perfectly reasonable to have your own opinions and reasons for doing things in your art, you have to remember that someone else entrusted you to do right by the art that they have created. Saying that you were "hired" to write music for a film or game isn't entirely true, as it's almost always a collaboration of some kind, even if it may not seem that way sometimes.
Going back to the original point, it takes creatives a long time to jump the hurdles of business. I still have a lot to learn, but I'm willing to do so, and that's what matters. You may not like the business aspect of music, but imagine what your career would look like if chose to ignore it. Would you even have a career?