Chris Boardman Music Blog

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Art Vs. Commerce? The business of art.

Most of us got into music because on a deep love for making music. We loved doing it so the next logical step would be to figure out how to make a living doing it. As a result, we attempt to move from the ranks of the amateur to the professional.

The inherent rub in this transformation comes when art meets commerce. We are conditioned to believe that the creation of art is a mysterious endeavor...a noble pastime that does not need to be concerned with mundane obligations like paying your rent on time or having enough money to buy groceries. Accepting this idea as fact traditionally breeds internal conflict. But does it have to?

Art and commerce are not mutually exclusive though maintaining a balance as a creative professional is difficult to do.

How do we find that magical middle ground?

Our pain comes from trying to fit a square peg into a round hole. By that, I suggest that we can imbue anything with artistic intent regardless of the circumstance. It all depends on how we perceive the work we do.

If the phrase: “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder” is true then we can find beauty in everything we do, see, and experience. Sometimes it shouts out at us, and other times it requires we look a little deeper from a more detached and objective position.

If we step back from our beliefs and conditioned responses, there will be room for us to see an obstacle as a potential opportunity.

Most times we fight our beliefs rather than the reality of what we face.

What does this have to do with the business of music?

Learning to be objective is the first step in assessing the value of the product or service you offer. Without we continually stumble from one obstacle to another...without having the skills to determine what works or doesn’t work.


Saturday, December 24, 2016

Merry Christmas!

It has been a wild ride this year for all of us. So, instead of a card, I decided that celebrating the fact that I can play again would be the best way for me to share my gratitude for family and friends at this time of year.




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Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Pick me! Pick me! Pick me!

Being a creative work for hire individual is challenging.

There are no rules. It’s hard to know where to turn for advice. And, if you are anything like I was when I was young chances are you are always looking for acknowledgment and acceptance.

It is natural to think you have to look outside yourself to find the answers. We are trained to research and assimilate information to improve ourselves.

But what if the answer was already inside you? What if you had to no look no further than yourself?

A byproduct of our educational experience is the pressure to conform. To be able to measure progress schools are required to judge against a norm. Unfortunately, conformity stifles creative solutions depriving us of the freedom to explore solutions that are unique to us. Schools do a terrible job at teaching students to think for themselves, to connect the dots in ways that are unique to us.

Most of us are starting life at a disadvantage. Most times we don’t know it!

Our inbred conformity works against us. If we insist on being a “part of the crowd” our value diminishes because we can easily be replaced.

What if you were to focus on what makes you different?

It’s all a choice, and it’s up to you.

Ask yourself: “how is your approach working for you?” “Are you getting to where you want to go?”

Choosing to be ordinary is up to you just as choosing to be unique is.

Committing to be unique means making a choice to stand out. It means accepting the risk of being rejected. It is a frightening thought for many. But understand that if you choose to be fit in, to be ordinary, you will be one of many. It is hard to stand out in that case.

Turn your attention inward.

Be clear about what makes your heart sing, what you can do better than anyone else.

Honestly ask yourself what YOU do, consciously and unconsciously, that prevents you from making you deliriously happy in your work.

Becoming successful requires the commitment to make the conscious choice to “follow your bliss."

Uniqueness is found inside not by the external search for validation and acceptance.

Articulate your dreams (write them down!).

Make a plan.

Work your plan

Sure. There are risks in taking a stand.

But- do you have the time waste trying to be something your not?

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Saturday, December 3, 2016

What is your career worth to you?

Nothing in life is free. Nothing in life is free.
(count silently to 10 and let that sink in)

Now repeat: nothing in life is free. Regardless of what we might think everything has an associated cost.

We don’t give much thought to how our tax money is spent, how much it costs to run a light bulb etc. If a movie or record loses money somewhere, someone is going to be responsible.
Nothing in life is free.

Is there a cost to bad behavior? Of course if you do drugs or act recklessly there could be an enormous price to pay. But what about our seemingly common everyday interactions with others and how we go about our days?

If we drill down a little deeper, it becomes clear that human behavior has a cost.
Here are a few questions to think about:
  • Are you willing to take risks to build your career?
  • Are you willing to invest your time and money to create assets that will attract paying clients?
  • Are you willing to evaluate your efforts honestly?
  • Are you willing to acknowledge your behavior may be affecting your success?
  • Are you willing to change if what you are doing isn’t working?

Amateurs often assume that a career is there for the taking. Professionals understand that an investment must be made to see a return. 

Making good choices.

You can only get out of life what you are willing to put into it. The good news is that you have the ability to choose what you want out of your life and career.

We continually make choices. When contemplating making an investment in your career what makes us able to determine which choice would be the best choice to make? 

For some of us, choices are a result of considered deliberation. Other choices are a conditioned response.

For example: if you continually sabotage yourself there is a good chance that deep down you don’t believe you are worthy of success.  These choices reinforce what we believe about ourselves.

Another example is being on time. Tardiness is a control issue. If someone consistently keeps you waiting, it is a form of control over the relationship by saying “my time is worth more than yours”. 

Nevertheless, even if this was an unconscious choice, a choice was made.

And what would be the cost of this choice?  Are you willing to waste your time? Would your client be willing to waste their time waiting for you?

Nothing in life is free.

In every choice we make there are costs-even if they aren't apparent at first glance.

If you are committed to being a professional and choosing to invest your time, money and reputation, be sure you are aware of the both the obvious and subliminal costs associated with your actions.

Saturday, November 26, 2016

If I build it... I sure hope they'll come!

So many of us buy into the myth: “if we build it…they will come.” That is a romantic notion that is rarely, if ever, fulfilled.

 As creators, (musicians, composers, filmmakers, artists, etc.) we spend our lives honing our craft, digging into every detail, leaving no stone unturned in our efforts to improve our creative abilities. 

Why don't we dedicate an equal or greater amount of time learning how to sell and promote ourselves?

It’s because we are uncomfortable. If you haven’t seen the success you desire in the music business would it be fair to say that you haven’t invested the time and effort in understanding what selling is let alone thinking of ourselves as a business?

If you were in the position of hiring you and you listened to your pitch would you hire you?

If you are stuck, where do you start?

Where do you focus our attention? What assets do you need to build before we begin?

Selling is not voodoo. It is a skill that can be learned. Why not invest the same amount of effort into selling as you do in your art?

It is common for creatives to say: “I’m an artist. I do my art. I don’t sell”.

That’s fine if your goal is to stay in your basement and never make a living from your creative work.

The professional will invest time and money into their art/business because they know that investing in assets (you) will give them an edge.

It’s not free. No one will do it for you!

“If you don’t value yourself…no one else will”.

Ask yourself: am I willing to work for it? Can I step outside my comfort zone and acquire the skills necessary to become a professional? If your answer is anything but yes then you have a problem. A solvable problem...but a problem nonetheless.

Artistry in music comes after years of study and practice. Why would you assume that selling your products or services requires less?

Make the commitment. Put your fears aside and get to work. Just like practicing- the more you do the better you'll get.

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Friday, November 25, 2016

Amateur or Professional?

Webster defines “business” as a purposeful activity. If we are purposefully in the act of creating art, we are by definition in the business of making art. Where so many of us struggle is imagining ourselves as more than artists. We are, in fact, businesspeople but either we have been conditioned to believe it is somehow beneath the artist or, it is so far out of our comfort zone that is impossible to conceive that we could be more than the act that fuels our creativity.

Business can seem like a foreign language. But it doesn’t have to be that way.

It is only a mystery of we prefer to isolate ourselves in our ignorance.

Moving beyond being an amateur is to accept that business (which includes branding and marketing) is an integral part of our existence as a freelance or independent artist.

Becoming a professional artist requires making a commitment to being accountability for ALL aspects of our lives and our careers.

It requires making the active choice to understand the how’s, the why’s the where’s of making your product exceptional as well as the sales and marketing of our product.

It’s our responsibility.

If we delegate this responsibility, then we are at the mercy of others. And as we move towards a society run by robots and artificial intelligence being a spoke in someone else’s wheel is becoming less and less of a viable option.

Is it easy? No. Is it hard? Yes. The choice is yours.

Read "What's Your Story" to begin your branding process.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Entitlement vs. Gratitude

For most of us, our expectations about what life will bring us are formed in childhood. If you show up in youth sports, you get a trophy. If you pick the correct multiple-choice questions, you will get a good grade. If you behave in a particular way, you will get the desired result. Well-meaning adults unconsciously fill children with these thoughts throughout their lives. 

To paraphrase TV psychologist Dr. Phil: “how’s that working for you?”

The truth is no one is guaranteed anything in life. Just because you “desire something” doesn’t mean you are “entitled” to have it regardless of the how often this idea is reinforced.

Does this prepare you for the inevitable rejection you will encounter in life?

Holding on to conditioned responses will be like having an invisible anchor around your neck. Your view will be skewed unknowingly affecting your performance. 

We can only put forth the best work we can do at the time. We cannot control the outcome. So why do we let our expectations get in the way?

"Give without expectation - be grateful for the result"- Quincy Jones

You’ve done your best. The outcome is out of your hands.  You have little choice but to accept the result or become defensive, bitter or worse which will have negative consequences.

If you fail to receive the reward you feel “entitled” to it is time to go back to the mirror and ask yourself: "was there anything else I could have done?  How can I improve my  performance?

Focus on creating joy - not wealth.

Joy will come from the act of doing, the value you create- not in what you will receive in return.

Joy is contagious. Joy is attractive. It is easy to say yes to joy.