Excerpted from Part IV Chapter 2 of
Straight Ahead: A Comprehensive Guide to the Business of Jazz*
(Without Sacrificing Dignity or Artistic Integrity)
by Marty Khan
CHAPTER 2 – SEVEN KEYS TO EMPOWERMENT AND PRODUCTIVITY
Artistic ability, business acumen, proper spirit, and a non-profit entity to handle all the details can provide the ideal foundation for successful business. But just as a basketball team composed of extraordinary players will not necessarily produce a championship, these elements alone will not result in success without some governing concepts to tie it all together and develop it properly.
So in this chapter we’re going to delve into seven key elements that are fundamental to career development and opportunity, especially for those to whom artistic integrity and personal dignity are of major importance.
These keys are:
Let’s examine them individually while keeping in mind that there’s a certain degree of crossover in each area.
Partnership is a fundamental component not only for the best use of this book, but also in every aspect of good ethical business. The key to this book and that fact is this:
Every single relationship you have or will have in this business is a partnership.
Partnership is too often perceived to mean the mutual ownership of some entity or concept. With you as the numerator and the total number of “partners” as the denominator, the percentage of your ownership of the partnership entity is derived. That’s as misleading as defining music as just a succession of tones.
Almost everything works by plan. As stated earlier, my experience indicates that most musicians employ one of two “plans”: get a record deal so you can get gigs; or get gigs so you can get a record deal. These aren’t plans, they’re wishes.
Just like playing on changes, business decisions have to be made quickly and accurately. A slip-up can be rectified fairly quickly with a few good decisions, and sometimes may even open up some new and exciting areas to explore. But everybody has to be on the same page so the individual decisions won’t throw off the balance and synergy needed to keep things cooking at full throttle.
Once the decision is made to get into the highly challenging business of turning music into money, the concept of self-marketing is a constant component. First and foremost, there must be no sense of shame, embarrassment or dishonor in self-promotion.
Our management approach has always been to design a business plan based upon the artist’s musical vision, not to ask the artist to make the music conform to a plan. With this approach to marketing, an entrepreneurial spirit can be adopted that will be economically productive without compromising artistic integrity or personal dignity.
The only way to break the chains of exploitation that have plagued jazz musicians since the music’s inception is to work together in a spirit of enterprise and partnership.
Just as a well-constructed solo requires a flow of ideas built upon what comes before it with each ensuing statement, career development demands a similar sense of structure. Too many artists and managers embrace a “let’s see what happens” approach to business. Whether it may be a random mailing to colleges, an ad in a jazz magazine, hiring a publicist or a radio person for a self-produced CD, or making an appearance on local cable or even national television, the general “plan” is to hope that somebody notices and something good will happen as a result.
But even if something does happen, it’s unlikely that a career can be built upon that occurrence alone. It must be built upon in a logical manner to produce lasting results. The key to this process is continuity, a step-by-step series of actions designed to establish an effective foundation for development and manageable growth.
Continuity is what transforms a wish into a plan; it turns an idea into a strategy.
Achieving true objectivity is an enormously challenging task. The degree to which we fulfill our true potential on an emotional, intellectual, ethical and spiritual basis is directly related to the level of objectivity we achieve regarding our own place in the universe.
Objectivity tells you whether the agent, manager or record label is doing a good job on your behalf. It tells you whether drawing an audience of ten people is a result of the clubowner’s failure to properly promote the date, or of the artist’s need to gain greater recognition, improve the music, or find another context. Objectivity is absolutely indispensable in trying to understand your economic worth in the apples-and-oranges marketplace of turning art into dollars. If you can’t sell two thousand copies of a CD and you never draw more than 50 people at a gig, you can’t expect disproportionate fees for recording or performing just because the quality of your music deserves them – even if that high level of artistry is objectively true.
A highly misperceived concept, confrontation is usually viewed negatively as contentious, disruptive and damaging to relationships and productivity. In reality, confrontation is simply recognition of something that needs to be dealt with, and then dealing with it. In its most positive application, confrontation is examining an issue and finding a solution before it becomes a big problem that will most likely result in the unpleasant form of confrontation to solve it further down the line.
Confrontation is simply the discussion of things that require certain adjustment, consideration or understanding by one or both parties.
When people think of barter, they think of some doctor in West Virginia getting paid in chickens; or farmers swapping eggs for corn. But barter is used even more often than cash in everyday life. Musicians do that with one another all the time. The key is to understand the value of what’s being bartered from both sides’ points of view. With that understanding properly in place, barter provides an enormously productive method for musicians to work together for the benefit of all. In many ways barter is simply the negotiation phase of partnership. You get what you need, I get what I need.
By employing these seven keys in both the overall strategies and day-to-day business, the artist or dedicated professional will develop a significantly more manageable and effective methodology for productive business.
Published by Outward Visions Books
Copyright © 2004 by Marty Khan