Takin’ Care of Business
By Caleb Chapman
A few years back I had the opportunity to perform at an event with the legendary musician, Randy Bachman (of Bachman Turner Overdrive) on one of his hits, “Takin’ Care of Business”. The song paints the picture of a musician “lying in the sun” and working “at nothing all day”. That may have been a little more of the environment in 1973 when the song was written, but it is a new world in 2016. I can tell you from personal experience that musicians who successfully lead a career are required to work as hard as ever.
It has been exciting for me to watch the growth of our JEN Jazz Industry & Music Business Symposium. The sessions were introduced last year and were such a huge success that this year the Symposium lasts a full day before the official start of our conference, thanks to the efforts of Bob Breithaupt and Jay Ashby.
Even though I work mainly in the music industry, many people are surprised to learn that I spend about 80% of my work hours on the business aspects of my various “jobs”. I think it’s interesting that I’m most often referred to as a musician and educator, but the majority of the work I do really has nothing to do with those skills. I am so excited to see so many of our universities taking notice of this and leading a national movement by music schools to include valuable business classes in the curriculum for their music majors.
Many students cite the relatively small size of the jazz market for being concerned about choosing a career as a musician or educator. I am often asked for my advice by high school and college students wanting to pursue a career in jazz. The most important advice I can give centers around these critical concepts and is applicable to virtually any aspect of the industry.
1. FIND A MENTOR
Seek an expert to advise you – or better yet, a team of mentors – in every area of your career. Do not limit this to music! I have been incredibly lucky to get advice from some of the best in the business. For example, one of the first to coach me on management skills was the legendary music executive and JEN Board Member, Rick Drumm (he has college business studies written on him!). If it weren’t for him, I would almost certainly not have the career I do today.
2. LEARN TO NETWORK
Business used to be all about location, location, location. In the digital age, that has evolved to network, network, network! How do you build an effective network? It’s definitely not about passing around business cards at luncheons. You need to become an expert in your field and even more importantly, serve as an invaluable resource to those you connect with.
3. IN EVERY BUSINESS DEAL GIVE MORE VALUE THAN YOU GET
In an age where the next generation is seen as feeling entitled and self-indulgent, it is refreshing to see anyone who creates value for those they interact with and really desires success for their business partners. Master this approach and you will have more opportunities than you know what to do with. This philosophy will never lead you wrong!
4. DIVERSIFY YOUR SKILLS
Just as in an investment portfolio, if you diversify your skills, you maximize your potential for return and minimize your risk of loss. For example, in my different roles I currently call on skills I’ve developed as a producer, educator, performer, author, entrepreneur, marketer, music executive, designer, consultant, accountant, administrator, manager, public speaker, and many others. I notice this same diversity of skills in my successful peers. The days of simply doing one thing well to make a living are coming to a close for musicians.
I feel so lucky to be able to enjoy my career as a musician and an educator. Tackling these business fundamentals will allow any artist the chance to pursue their craft. And don’t forget to take advantage of the incredible Jazz Industry & Music Business Symposium on Wednesday, January 4 at the Hyatt Regency in New Orleans!
In addition to his role as JEN President, Caleb Chapman is Founder and President of Caleb Chapman’s Soundhouse, Director of the Crescent Super Band, and Artistic Director for Pioneer High School for the Performing Arts. He serves on several boards including the Utah Arts Council, and is an award-winning musician, producer, educator, author, and speaker. To learn more about Caleb, please visit www.ccsoundhouse.com.