Not strictly New Music Strategies territory, but I guess there’s a good reason I should tell you what I’ve been up to for the past week or so.
Apart from all the usual stuff I like to occupy my time with – like travel to Northern Ireland to give a music industry seminar, make a video blog about whisky, listen to lots of records, meet with commercially inviable record labels, do a spot of research about the BBC, and involve myself in long examination board meetings at the university – I’ve thrown together a new website with a talented friend of mine.
It’s a simple idea: people make wishes – and then… well that’s kind of it, really. People make wishes. You can type your wish in on the site – or twitter it (just follow isowish on twitter, we’ll follow you back, and then “d isowish that I was Jimi Hendrix”) – and then you can take a code away and embed that wish on your blog or other website etc.
What do you so wish?
The website’s called I So Wish… and the grammatical awkwardness serves a purpose as well as fills a need because so many of the other desirable domains were gone.
But there’s a point to be made here. One of the reasons for I So Wish to exist is for the purposes of passive income.
The idea of this was simply to be a web application that we could get off the ground quickly (we’ve spent a grand total of about 3 days work each on the site), and – all going well – it will turn over a little bit of an income without too much in the way of further engagement.
Here’s why that’s important: I strongly believe that ‘making music your career’ (a phrase often put forward as an ideal situation for musicians) has the hidden trap of turning music into something you HAVE to do, rather than something you GET to do. The question of ‘how do I make money making music?’ can more reasonably be split into three parts:
1) How can I make money?
2) How can I spend my time making music?
3) How can I do both without having to also do something I hate?
You could, of course, become immensely rich making music you love – and nobody would begrudge you that. It’s also possible to make just a reasonable income out of music without sacrificing or compromising one little bit.
But another successful route is that of passive income. There are some very happy musicians who make very good money, only spend their day making music and buying themselves nice things – but their money comes from what some people call a ‘cash machine’.
Make money while you sleep
The idea is to make money while you sleep, so that you can go away and make music HOW you want, WHEN you want, WITH WHOM you want – and so on, rather than making the music that you HAVE to make because that’s the only way you’re going to eat this week. It’s not a problem everyone faces – but it’s a problem all the same.
This is one way I’m trying out that principle myself.
So… the point of me telling you this is twofold:
1) You can make something very quickly that will generate an income for you. It might not solve all your problems by itself, but setting up some money-makers that take care of themselves will often take the pressure off elsewhere.
2) You can partner with other people – and I suggest that technologists are good for this – in order to help with your ideas. I invented something I thought would be engaging and fun, but could not make it. I then explained it to someone who had the ability to make it, but hadn’t invented it. And then we went 50/50 to make things nice and simple. Three days from idea to launch. Two more days to our first 1000 visitors.
Wishing for cash
So how is I So Wish making money? A couple of ways. There’s a fairly subtle Amazon affiliate ad on the page that shows you your wish after you’ve made it – and I’m selling an e-book I wrote called ‘How To Make Wishes That Come True‘.
It’s a reasonably substantial piece (75 pages) and I’m quite proud of it.
I wanted to make it something I felt okay about putting my name to and charging people money for – so I was certainly not going to spin them any wishy-washy crap about ‘putting your positive vibes out into the universe’ or ‘focusing on improving your receiving energies’. This is practical, down to earth, ‘getting stuff done’, goal setting, project-managing, helpful and strategic stuff.
I’ve had a little bit of success with e-books in the past. This one is for sale, and our hope is that the use of the fun ‘make a wishes‘ bit of the site will generate some interest in the book too. It’s an experiment.
How this is useful to you
The bit that I hope you take away from all this is the following truth:
You are creative, and can come up with things – both musical and otherwise – that other people would find real value in. You may not be capable of realising all of those things on your own. Partner with people (hint: geeks are people) who are creative in other ways – and then use each other’s skills to generate something that will capitalise on that value.
The more you can set things up so that you can make money while you sleep, the more freedom you’ll have to make the music that you love – and connect with audiences in a way that expresses your art.
Sounds like a wish come true.