Don't Become a Victim of Tunnel Vision When It Comes to Ways of Making Money with Music

By Bob Baker

Let me give you two real-life examples to illustrate the point here. To protect their reputations, let's call these two people Richard and Michelle.

Richard is a musician acquaintance who's been in a band for about a year and a half. One day he talks to me and says, "I don't know what it is, but we've been working our butts off and still can't make decent money with this band." So I ask Richard exactly what he's doing with his band to make money. He explains that they gig out several times a month, but since the band plays mostly original music, they work for the door and don't end up with much.

Next I ask if his band has a tape or CD available for sale. "No," he says. How about T-shirts? "Not yet," he slowly responds. Have they ever tried breaking into the college gig market or playing at more underage shows, where teenagers tend to buy a lot of band merchandise? "Uh, no, not really. We haven't thought about it that much."

It should be no surprise, then, to find that Richard had the same blank expression when I asked him whether he'd taken steps to increase his personal income by giving guitar lessons, playing solo gigs or doing some part-time talent booking for some of the smaller clubs he frequents. As is the case with far too many musicians, Richard didn't look beyond his narrow view of what a prosperous music person could be.

Then there's Michelle, a good gal who got the bright idea to open up her own record store. She took most of her savings, got a few relatives to invest in her idea and opened up a retail shop in a decent location. Michelle was excited to be in business for herself.

About six months later I stopped by Michelle's record store and asked how business was. "Not so good," she replied as she looked around the shop, which at that moment was void of customers. "I've been trying. I ran a few ads in some of the papers and a couple spots on the radio, and nothing came of that. I don't know what to do."

So I asked, "You know, that pizza place a few doors down seems to do a pretty good business. Have you ever thought of offering them a cross promotion, where they give coupons for your store to their customers and you give out pizza coupons to your customers?"

"No, I haven't tried that one."

Then I questioned her on whether she'd distributed fliers to local music stores or nightclubs. Whether she'd offered to write a record review column for one of the small local papers for the visibility. Or whether she'd held a charity event or offbeat contest that could generate some free publicity.

The answers were all the same: "No."

What both Richard and Michelle suffered from was a bad case of tunnel-vision. Their views on how to go about making money in their chosen fields were far too narrow. They only considered the obvious methods (which are quite often the least profitable).

Don't make this same mistake. Challenge yourself to go beyond the tried-and-true, mundane approaches. You and your band or business will be light years ahead if you do.

Commit Right Now: "From now on, I will not limit my ideas to the obvious. I now know that tunnel-vision is a curse on my future growth potential, and I will take every step necessary to keep thinking of fresh, new ways to earn the income I desire - and deserve."

Bob Baker is the author of the new "Guerrilla Music Marketing Power Course" - packed with hundreds of indie music marketing ideas for your band or record label. For complete details and a special 40% discount offer, send the message "Power Course Info" to