One of the things that has helped me survive in Nashville has been my day job. I have always felt extremely lucky to have an income that puts a roof over my head and food in my cabinets, and although there are days that I wish I had more daylight hours to devote to music, I know that time will come soon enough. While I expected to work hard and learn a lot at my position, I never expected to find so many connections between the insurance industry and the music industry.
Lesson 1: Know Your Product
Seems simple right? You can’t sell something unless you know the product inside and out. If people have questions, you need to be the expert. Your confidence will instill confidence in others as they decide to buy from you instead of the competition. I think the same thing applies to being an independent artist, musician, or songwriter. Knowing your own style and your strengths, and being confident in what you do is essential to getting anyone to buy what you are selling, whether it be recordings, live performances, or songs.
Lesson 2: Learn to overcome rejection
Any sales person will tell you that “low-hanging fruit,” or the easiest sales tend to be more sparse than those that are more of a challenge. In insurance sales, there are always plenty of reasons that people don’t want to buy, whether it be price, coverage, service, payment options, public opinion, and any other number of things that are largely out of the salesperson’s hands. Success comes when you learn to overcome rejection, whether it be by using another tactic to make the sale, or at least learning from the rejection and moving forward. The same applies to being an independent artist; it is unlikely that you will book every venue that you want to play, or get a publishing deal from every meeting you take- especially as you are starting out. Instead of getting discouraged or giving up, assess the things you can do better, dump the techniques that aren’t working for you, and move on! Doing so will eventually find you more success, and each self-evaluation will get you one step closer to landing the next gig, or deal, that you are trying for!
Lesson 3: Set goals, track your progress.
It’s one thing to feel like you are reaching your goals, but numbers don’t lie. Obviously, creative goals may not be as easy to track as numerical sales, but the simple act of setting goals with a timeline attached to them helps keep you constantly working towards something, and not just floating along without a destination in mind. Even if you don’t hit your goals by the deadline, you have a realistic view of what is possible, and something to work towards for your next goal-setting timeframe!
Lesson 4: Find a need and fulfill it.
You can talk to hundreds of people in a day, but if you don’t identify what they actually need, you probably won’t make a sale. You may be the greatest new artist out there, with amazing songs, stage presence, and artistry, but if you can’t identify what a potential fan or industry connection are looking for, they probably won’t take what you have to offer. Whether it’s finding the venues that book your style of music or reaching out to fans who enjoy your genre of music, you can save yourself from a lot of unnecessary struggle by identifying your high-propensity prospects, or those that are more likely to buy what you are selling.
I certainly don’t claim to be an expert in sales, but these are some of the best lessons I’ve taken away from the time at my “day job.” Like I said before, I never expected that so many of the basic principles I learned to succeed at my job would help me so much in my music career. I was pleasantly surprised in the past year to find that not only is the whole sales process is getting easier, but I’m more confident when it comes to the business of me. Although that may sound funny, being an independent artist truly is like running a business, and I for one am glad to have at least a little experience in the business world to help me along the way!