You’re a musician and you’ve been around the block a few times. You’ve had some success already but the momentum you expected wasn’t there. The support wasn’t there. The fantasy of making music while someone else took care of your career has vanished. You’ve tried to promote and book yourself, but it’s slow going and money’s still tight. You’re frustrated and you don’t know what to do.
You want things in life—to get hitched, build a tiny house, raise kids, get a miniature goat—but you don’t know how you’ll ever do it without giving up music. Giving up the dream.
And yet, there’s a voice inside your head that insists this is the thing you were meant to do.
This is who you are.
(THAT’S US, CLAY ROSS & JAYME STONE)
Every musician knows that. What they don’t know is what the old guard—the agents, publicists, managers, and record labels—knew all along. That is, how to actually run a business.
Maybe you’ve already tried being a do-it-yourselfer, so you know all too well how hard it is to figure things out. You probably wondered if you were missing something huge. You were.
And you’re not alone. Most musicians are sailing along in the dark when it comes to their careers (though, they say “a smooth sea never made a good sailor”).
This comprehensive course changes that. Compose Your Career is for musicmakers like you who want to make the music you love—and a living at it too. It offers secrets and strategies that come from a team (of Grammy and Juno Award winners)
who have stopped at nothing (okay, almost nothing) to design a workable system for independent musicians. It provides a disarmingly honest look at what’s really happening in the music industry and what it takes to propel your career forward.
As artists, we need to re-think and re-imagine what it means to do business. An artist’s business model is fundamentally different than that of a record label or booking agency. The good news? We have more latitude, choice, and creative freedom than ever before.
Compose Your Career puts tools and resources back into the hands of independent musicians. It shows you that your career is the ultimate improvisation—the grand music project that includes businesscraft too.
Heena Patel is a multi-hyphenate arts worker, coach for creatives, facilitator, and gathering designer. Heena’s work focuses on nurturing the ecosystem around South Asian performing arts and community.
Martha Redbone is a Native and African-American vocalist/songwriter/composer/educator. She is known for her unique gumbo of folk, blues, and gospel from her childhood in Harlan County, Kentucky infused with the eclectic grit of pre-gentrified Brooklyn.
Barry Cole is a music supervisor with more than 100 film and TV credits including Sling Blade, Brown Sugar and American Psycho. He’s produced over 20 soundtracks. The song “Love Of My Life” from the soundtrack for Brown Sugar—featuring Erykah Badu and Common—won a Grammy Award.
Allie Silver runs a music management and consulting company and has booked over 40 international tours in over 37 countries throughout Europe, the US, Africa, Asia, Oceania and Latin America at some of the most prestigious venues and festivals worldwide.
That was a huge compliment, but it was also sobering. We’re moved by the astounding creativity of our friends and peers. How talented they are. And yet they ask for help because they are desperate to know how it all works. To stop struggling.
We understand. We’ve been figuring out how to do this without a guide for over twenty years. We’ve signed with record labels and have had managers and agents, but we’ve mostly done it ourselves. We’ve released albums independently, raised over $80,000 on Kickstarter, instigated a decade’s worth of collaborative projects, and booked thousands of concerts on our own.
In 2015, Jayme began teaching a workshop called “How to Book Yourself Without an Agent” to answer many of the questions that fellow musicians had. Based on the success of those workshops, we set to work on a more comprehensive course—this course—that encompasses everything it takes to self-manage your career. What we’re offering is the hard-won knowledge we’ve accumulated that can uncover valuable opportunities for others.
Compose Your Career is an eight-week online course that teaches you, step-by-step, how to create a sustainable music career so you and your music can thrive in the world.
This is not your standard Music Business 101 course. It’s based on a peer-to-peer model (one on-the-ground-musician to another, not ex-industry-pro to musician) and celebrates design, aesthetics, and imagination.
Get honest about what is and isn’t working so you can stop spinning your wheels and get to work finding the right opportunities that make you more money. Otherwise, you’ll just keep doing things that aren’t serving you and wind up with hustle-fatigue.
We’ll help you write a spellbinding bio that frames your music in a unique story so you can stand out from the crowd, magnetize press, and command higher fees. Otherwise, you’ll get lost in a sea of songwriters where price is your only leverage.
Get super-organized so you can do more business in less time. This will free up hours to play music (isn’t that the reason you got into this in the first place?) Not being organized leads to a subtle self-sabotage and makes taking the next step in your career impossible.
Learn to book yourself with an agent taking 15% and endlessly disappointing you. Even if you don’t want to always do it yourself, the best way to attract an agent is by proving you don’t need one.
Learn how to get press, be social media savvy and grow your email list so you can sell tickets, build a Patreon, launch a successful Kickstarter and make money playing the music you love.
Get the inside scoop on tour logistics, learn how to advance a tour and find out to the #1 thing artists miss out on in their contracts (it'll protect you from cancelled gigs).
Learn how to prepare, pitch and land sync, licensing and publishing opportunities. Otherwise, you’re stuck only making money on the nights you’re on stage.
Learn how to open up new markets, tour abroad and get the most out of international music conferences. Why not see the world and build an audience while you're at it?
Learn how to explore your cultural heritage, build rapport with your audience and create a career that has longevity. You don't want to be doing the same thing in 10 years, do you?
Learn how to make every show a showcase, reach beyond the usual suspects and use the power of mail merge to send 100s of pitches in the time it takes to write one email. That way you can do more business in less time and get back to writing your next song sooner.
Additional faculty made possible through our partnership with the Association of Performing Arts Professionals. Our scholarship program is hosted and administered in partnership with Folk Alliance International.