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What artists can learn from McDonalds!

What in the world do we mean with our headline? Certainly there is nothing artists – great personalities and individualists in many cases – can learn from a fast food chain?

Regardless of how you feel about fast food, or if you are vegan, there are things to actually pick up from McDonalds if you are an artist…

There are so many aspects to an artist’s career, and not in the least these days. And guess who is trying to do most of the work involved most of the time? The artist. In the current climate especially. An artist is like an entrepreneur who just got started in this sense – and remains in that start-out position through most of his career – in a lot of cases.  The fresh entrepreneur has to do everything himself. And he probably started his entrepreneurship because he is truly accomplished in something, which is at the core of his longing to be ‘his own’. This is his skill, a skill that made him start a business. So now he is selling this skillfulness of his, which means that he has to do a lot of other chores, and it is likely that performing his skill becomes one of the many chores, and there is a major threat that the fun of devoting himself to his core capacity is at risk. There is a major risk also, that he gets very tired as time passes or even burnt out. A reason why many new businesses fail isn’t that the entrepreneur wasn’t able to sell his expertise or his goods, but that it all becomes too much for that one individual in a way that eventually will make him less brilliant at performing the skill he started the business for in the first place.

So perhaps the fresh entrepreneur, or the artist, is wise enough to hire some help to do some of the chores that take up most of his days and nights. This too is a risky situation. Because perhaps the hired help doesn’t really do the job they were intended to do in a way that the artist is pleased with. Perhaps he doesn’t recognize himself in the marketing campaigns, perhaps the gear isn’t set up the right way, perhaps he is always running between flights. So what happens if there is an area that the artist has trouble with after hiring someone to do it for him? It will be a worry for him. It will remain on his mind. He will double-check it, and if it’s not done right, he will wind up doing it himself even after having hired help, or he will at least keep trying to make adjustments that better fit his needs – spending a lot of time working around the hired help. So even if he has people now, who do things to help out, what they are assisting with still is time consuming to the artist, and still remains in his thoughts in an unpleasant and energy-consuming way. He may choose to end the relationship with the hired help and go back to doing it all himself again, to regain control.

Once McDonalds was a new company. What did they do differently? Like Michael E. Gerber points out in his book, “The E Myth”, McDonalds doesn’t actually sell hamburgers. They are selling a concept and a franchise model. 

At the core of a business concept the question of what a company wants to be is the first question. This question is also present in the answers to all aspects concerning a business. And if an artist isn’t actually selling music, but a concept – that persona that he would like for people to think about when they think about him, who does he want to be? That would partly answer how everything concerning his career should be set up, in the same way.

Like at McDonalds there could eventually be a manual for how the chores in the artist’s career should be done. And instead of spending a lot of time explaining to one person after another how he wants things done, in a myriad of situations and with a plethora of details, the artist could simply give the manual to the people he works with.

Thinking in terms of a franchise model, one that has a manual and can be easily copied, a manual that can be picked up by just about anyone who comes into contact with the artist for professional reasons, is a time-saving way of working for an artist, and one that gives him control regardless of who he encounters. Working on The Manual alongside his music is something an artist could contemplate. Perhaps a little know thyself could – just as an example – be added to the manual, with instructions as to how to deal with things when the artist himself knows that he sometimes is a little tardy for appointments. Perhaps the manual will instruct people who work with him when they can tell him to step it up, if his idea of concept is that he is a professional who is on time. And perchance – just as another example – the manual has sections where the instruction is to stay away under all circumstances from aspects that the artist never wants any meddling with. Et cetera.

The manual is a far bigger document than a rider, and could over time include all the aspects of the artist’s career, as if it was a franchise model, though it is not. Michael E. Gerber truly points out the merits in thinking of any enterprise as one even if it isn’t. And suddenly it wouldn’t quite matter as much who the hired help is at times, and further the manual will bring them clarity too, because who wants to see their work be unappreciated? Isn’t that the situation where many professionals start to dream of running their own…band? As an example? Being without the boss who doesn’t value their work? And off they go to take the trip described above, the one of doing everything themselves or hiring people who may not do things the way these new band-leaders want things done…

McDonalds will be the same everywhere thanks to the manual, thanks to the franchise model, which in fact is what they sell, and we are all in the clear about what they are regardless if we are customers or not. And that is how a business – or a career – sails the smoothest.

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Welcome to a new year on Musicians' Corner!

We are a few days into a brand new year, and a few years into the story of Musicians’ Corner, Musicians On Music. We would like to wish all of our contributors, visitors and friends a pleasing and exciting 2018.

We live in times when a lot is possible. However, much that was once likely no longer is as easily probable. In music we can truly see how the world has been changing, and also how these changes call on us all to change our ways of doing things. We can think what we will about the transformations. Many of them are here to stay regardless of what we think, and we can either interpret what they mean to us individually and apply them to our own journeys, or be left behind to a degree, by the people who did. We can see how being lost with these novelties can cost an artist who isn’t able to move with the times. Looking back twenty-four hours a day, looking for an infrastructure perhaps, that is no longer there, is not going to keep a career going. For those who started their careers in music during these changing times, the flow of inventions is often a natural part of what life looks like.

Music is the ancient expression of the soul. That it perhaps should consider what a new app on the market can do, every two weeks, is in many ways an absurd impracticality. Yet, artists are always creative, and these days vision can endlessly find new features to be innovative through, and new formats through which to express that primal phenomena, coming from the individual experience.

What we all know as ‘music’ is much the result of the recording industry taking shape. In the history of mankind that is a fairly new phenomenon. Today the gate-keepings of taste in music have lost much of their influence and anyone can go direct to market. This may have many artists worrying about likes and followers, but if you create what does come from you that is in fact your brand, and people who do in fact like it have the chance of finding it, if you put it out there – and you may ask yourself why you should worry about people who don’t like it. They are not your people, not your audience, and to please them you would have to change what you do, that is change your brand and lose yourself in your expression. You can do that of course, but will it make you happy?

In this sense these times call on artists to be honest with themselves about who they are and what would give them a sense of fulfillment. It is a question that has always been there, but is put to artists more directly and abruptly now, if they consider it or not. A few decades back it might have been about working with an act that didn’t play their music but paid well. This is of course still is a problem for many artists. Now the question may also be present any time they pick up their instrument – if they consider the question. Boiling it down artists can make exactly the sounds that come from their inner beings, get these to market, and find precisely the people who vibe with them. And they don’t have to worry about anything else. Artists can also easily get lost in the competition for likes and shares from a general public that will never connect with what they truly are as creators.

To a large degree the mass media still moves with the old times, giving space and light to the acts that come through the diminishing system, while the customers are getting increasingly savvy about finding their music without the help of the journalists’ edited content. And the journey that artists take through these times, and the struggles they may have taking that ongoing voyage, is also often left out by the mass media, regardless of it frequently being the story of music now.

Music saw an amazing golden age through the recording industry, an industry that in of itself in many ways failed to move with the times when the times moved – which is the reason for its reduction. We currently live through the many years, when we are losing artists and creators daily, from that golden age of musically heightened expression. These are painful years for the music-loving population of this planet. The sense of loss is difficult for many, and hardly described on a general level by the mass media. When historians look back on the 20th century there is little doubt that the part that music played in shaping that century will shine through, and that some of them will be interested in finding all the information they can get their hands on about the luminaries of this art-form. This is a time to scurry for music journalists, so that as much of that information as possible is gathered before it is lost. The information can be retrieved through the artists from this golden age who are still with us, who will remember things differently, perhaps influencing each other on remembering some things wrong at times, which is why many have to be interviewed many times about the same things, so that the important details that may change the entire stories aren’t lost. The information may also be found in technology that may be lost to the future, as the technologies of the future will be others than those of the past.

All in all it is an intense time for anyone who wishes to take part in describing music. On Musicians’ Corner artists speak. You find no journalist getting in the middle of what artists say here. Here fragments of all of the above come through in the articles. You find articles from artists reaching out to their audience here, artists commenting on the changing times here, artists sharing memories of important moments in their careers here. And all of it matters greatly.

We hope that you continue to enjoy the material on this platform!

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