TRANSCRIPTION: "Success Beyond The Score" Podcast, S.3, EP. 4

Here is the transcription of episode 4 of season 3 of the podcast "Success Beyond The Score". Happy reading!

- Watch the video of the episode here: YouTube

- Listen to the audio of the episode here: Kajabi


Today is day four of season three of my podcast, Success Beyond the Score. And if you haven't already watched the first three episodes, one's about "The Seven Stages Of The Gigging Musician", the other was about, um... oh gosh, I can't remember all my titles now! Look, just go back, there's a playlist. Getting old, haha!

Anyway, today is about: "I'm A Musician. Why Do I Need A Business Plan?" And this is a topic most musicians just say: "No, I really, really, really don't need this at all. You know, I do not need this at all. I just want to play!".

By the way, if you can't hear me, drop a message in the chat so that I can make sure you can all hear me 'cause the last thing I want is to, is to be —I think that seems to be working— is to be talking and you can't hear me.

Anyway. As I was saying, as a musician, most of us, we just wanna get on with playing music. We wanna write, we wanna get on stage and share our ideas. But I'm sure at some point in your journey someone's gonna say: "Well, do you have a music dream? What's your aim? Do you wanna just be a megastar? Do you just wanna get paid? How're you gonna make that a reality? Do you know how you're gonna get there? Who's gonna help you? What're you gonna need? And how will you know when you've got there?"

These are just kind of questions that actually are part of business planning, tada! So it's nothing too scary. It's about really thinking about what you want to achieve, how you're gonna get it done, where you're gonna get it done, why, where, all that kind of things and documenting it. That's the nutshell version of it.


My experience with business planning, however, is that I didn't have one. When I started music, I just didn't have one. I was the type of musician who just wanted to get out there and play, that was it. I just wanted to get out there and play and hopefully get signed. But looking back, I missed some really good opportunities because I didn't recognise there were opportunities. I didn't realise they would help me get to where I wanted to get to because, quite frankly, I didn't think about where I wanted to get to.

So, when I turned something down, it was because I thought: "Well, they're not gonna pay me, ain't gonna do it". Not to say you must work for free —I'm gonna be discussing that tomorrow, actually— but, I just didn't do certain things, and nowadays I've thought: "Oh, I wish I'd done that. I could have been here. I could have been there". But because I didn't have a name, I didn't know what I was about or what I was doing, it didn't happen.

Now, fast forward down a few years from my teens and twenties to when I was 42. I had my children, I'm married, settling down, um, still doing a little bit of music work on the side. But one of the things that I found was that I was constantly feeling I needed to do my music in a deeper way. I needed to do something more about it. And at 42, I didn't know if I could hack it. I didn't know if anybody would want to listen to me. I didn't know if, you know, they would want what I have to offer.

And so, I decided I'm gonna give myself five years, five years to see if I can pull this off. And I reinvented myself. I got hold of an exercise book. And in this page somewhere, let's see if it's there... Uh, anyway, somewhere in this book, there is a triangle. I drew a plan of what I wanted to achieve in the five years and, um, can't find it now, but I'll put it somewhere. But what I did was I decided I wanted to do a recording. I wanted to have my own show. I wanted to get some awards. I wanted to go abroad and play...

If you know Abraham Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs, I sort of drew it out like that. So in this triangle, at the bottom of the triangle, in the first year, I thought: "These are things I must do now, I must achieve now. And in the next year, once I've done that, I must do this. And in the next year, when I've done that, I must do this, and so on". And so I gave myself five years.

Now reality is that, one of my aims was to do my recording and it took five years to do it, and there's a reason for that. I'm gonna be covering that in an episode coming up, looking at recordings, but it took me five years. And I think what I'm trying to say here is that even if you have a plan, you have to be flexible with it because life happens, the economy changes —as we've experienced— things happen technologically, things happen sociologically. Um, the environment, everything's different. You know, there's certain materials that us musicians can't have anymore because they are extinct. Ivory, for example. Things happen and that changes how we do our business as musicians.

So if you have a plan —and I'm gonna encourage you to have a plan— it should be flexible. It shouldn't be that flexible that you throw it out the window and don't do it, but it should be flexible enough that you can respond to all the things that are happening around you.

For me, yes, it took me almost five years to get my first recording done. But as I went along, I learned lessons. One about the flexibility of the plan. Two, there were some things I just didn't understand. You know, as a musician, you think that you know it all. "I can just play. That's all I need to know and they will book me. That's all I need to worry about". But actually, there's quite a few things we need to learn.

I had to learn Zoom. I think most of us had to learn Zoom. I also needed to learn how to manage my recording project, which I mentioned was pretty, pretty new to me. I had to learn it and I also learned that, if I wanted to be an international artist, then I had to grow my presence, I had to have a bio, had to have great music, I had to have a fan base. And these are things that, when I was planning, I didn't know about, I didn't think about. I just knew I wanted to be international. I wanted to have this, I wanted to have that. But my plan really helped me to navigate my music. It really, really did.

And, you know, I mentioned 42 because I'll always mention it. I always believe that no matter how old you are as a musician, there is still room for you. Absolutely still room for you. The world's big enough. I said this in episode one: the world is big enough for all of us to have a piece of the pie and have our own fan base and be happy doing what we do. Definitely, definitely, definitely. And in fact, when I was about 43, you know, I was telling you all: should I continue? Should I not continue with my music? I was listening to a radio four festival and a lady was playing the saxophone, called Kathy Stobart, and I was listening and thinking: "Wow, beautiful playing, who is that?" And I went to check her out and she was in her sixties. I'm thinking: "My gosh, did she play it that good? She's still rocking it. I can do it!"

Now, in 2012 I did my triangle thing as my first plan. Um, and I really wish it would just... there's so many pages in here, just kind of flick, flick, flick. It's all random, random, random, random. Yes, I do have the right book, if you're thinking about that. But you know, it's like when you're rushing to find something, can't find it, and it's just irritating me. That's why I keep picking up the book and having a look.

Anyway, in 2012 I went on a course and it had to do with the University of Coventry, and it was professional development and it was starting your own business. I'd already started my business in music, but it was focused on the business plan. I went on that course and I tell you what, 10 years later, that plan has served me well. It really, really helped me to crystallise my thoughts. Like the questions I asked you earlier on. If you've never really thought about how are you going to achieve the thing you want, then you won't achieve it. I think it's Benjamin Franklin that said: "If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail". I think that's a fantastic, fantastic quote. You need to plan. Even with recordings —coming back into that topic— if you are creating a new project, a new CD, a new vinyl, new mp3, whatever it is, you should have a plan for that. It's not just about going into the studio, but it's about how you going to get it out to the market.


So, listen, I'm still rocking. As mentioned, lockdown, I had to learn some new skills. I had to bring things online and you had to do that too. And before I go into it further, to tell you about more benefits of having a business plan, I would like you to like, share and subscribe to my channel because I'm trying to grow my YouTube channel. When you do that, I'll go to yours and subscribe to yours, help you grow yours too. Also, the information I'm giving out, if you think it's great and it's valuable, please share it to other musicians.

If you're new here and you've not met me before, I'd like you to know that I've got two free, fantastic gifts just for you. One is called "25 Secrets Of The Gigging Musician, Singer, Rapper, And Spoken Word Artiste" and the second is called "10 Reasons Why They Will Pay You Before Gig Day". And if you go onto my websites,, you'll see them there and you can grab them. Hopefully they will help you progress your music.

If you have questions, please put them in the chat. Always happy to answer your questions!


So what are the other benefits of having this plan? Firstly, it helps you to stay in your lane. As a musician, I saw other sax players killing it, doing their thing, and I'm like: "Oh gosh, if I could be, but I'm not! Oh gosh, what am I gonna do?!" And all this distraction and all this envy and all this jealousy and all this kind of stuff... I call it like it is, 'cause you know you have the feelings, you know exactly what I'm talking about. We look at other musicians and we want what they have and some of us get even a little bit more dangerous about it, but I'm not going there. What I would say about a plan is that, because I'd figured out where I wanted to get to, because I'd figured out how I was gonna get to it, because I'd figured out what I needed to help me get there, and even though I didn't have everything sorted out, having the plan helped me to stay in my lane.

You know, when you watch track and field and relay and all that kind of stuff, and people are running down that lane —I actually love the one hundred meters, loved it when I was younger— if you cross lanes, you're disqualified, aren't you? Maybe you'd have to tell me about that. I'm sure you are, because obviously you could trip somebody up. You've gotta stay in your lane.

As a musician, if you can be focused on your path and your journey, you're gonna do really, really well. You're not gonna get distracted. You're not going to be throwing the towel because someone else is. You'll believe better on you. What you should remember is you are you, there's only one of you, and only you can do what you do. Go do it. Your business plan is for you. It's to help you stay in your lane and achieve the things you want, achieve your dreams.

Secondly, a business plan will help you to recognise the opportunities because it's not every door you should walk through. In the early days, when you start, you're gonna take as many gigs as you can, because you need to get up there, you need to get known, you need to figure out the kind of venues you wanna play, you need to figure out the kind of songs you like playing.

I was talking to one of my students recently and she was saying how she was asked to deputise and play in a band. She got paid for it, which was really cool, we were really pleased about that, but it made her kind of realise that she preferred solo work rather than band work, and that's okay because some of us prefer working in bands, some of us prefer working on our own, some of us prefer working in choirs and orchestras, and you just find your opportunity. I'm sure the next time an opportunity comes to her to work in a band, she might, well, turn it down because that's not her. Then again, she might just do it because it ticks certain boxes, but it's not her, and she knows exactly who she is and it's not something she's gonna be doing all the time. So working through your thoughts helps you to do that, to spot what is and what is not for you.

The third thing about a business plan is... it's the process of creating that helps you to really figure out who you are. I know, I know I've said it a few times already, but I'm gonna say it again, and say it again because I believe in business plans. In fact, I have a major plan that I mentioned from 2012 that's coming to the end. I've gotta write another one for the next 10 years. But every year I write my targets for the next 12 months, and I think that's a really, really good thing. Instead of having new resolutions, it's: "What am I doing in my music business for the next 12 months?"

Sitting down with a cup of coffee, tea, water, something else, and thinking through, just for one hour or two hours for the week, what you want to achieve really helps you to figure it out a lot more and get you thinking: "Oh, I know who I must speak to. Oh yeah, I wonder so-and-so knows, da, da, da, da, da". It really, really helps to clear your mind. That time of meditating on your music really helps to clear your mind, get you sorted and keeping in your lane.

The other thing is that, nowadays, there are more and more musicians, and this is not a bad thing, but there's more and more musicians who are DIY, "do it yourself". Independent artists, self-managed, self-working gigging musicians, because just that's the way the economy is. Gone are the days in the fifties, sixties, seventies and eighties where you had to get signed to someone. Now you still get signed, but they want a lot more before they sign you. But because you are your own CEO, you are your own director, it's your business and you have the talent, you've got to create that track record to be taken seriously. Part of your planning could be about that: "How am I gonna be taken seriously? What can I do?" And when you are taken seriously, that's when the labels will come knocking, if that's what you want. Okay?

Let me look at it this way. If your music is part-time (maybe even full-time as a teacher) and you work for someone else, I'm sure those organizations will have a mission plan. They'll have value statements, they'll have targets, they'll be reviewing each year, reviewing you each year to see how you are getting on. Apply those principles to your work. Your business plan can be the vehicle that you use to just document how you are gonna operate. So it really helps you to be taken more seriously.

And number five is funding requirements. If you are going to say, in the UK, to the Arts Council or Help Musicians, or even the bank, you want a grant or a loan or some support, they're not just gonna give you the money and say: "Alright, you play really well, here you go". No! They're gonna want to know what you think like, what are your aims and your goals, who are you working with, your collaborations, and of course your music.

And your business plan is exactly what they're looking for. Of course, they may have a different form that you have to fill in. Easy peasy, copy and paste from your business plan, stick it in the form, job done. It does a lot more than just sitting there on the shelf, gathering dust.

As I mentioned before, if you fail to plan, you are planning to fail. You really, really need to do that, and I encourage you to do that. I know it's not exciting, it's not interesting, but I'd like to challenge you to have a go at doing your plan.


Now, let me just check if there's any questions. Let's have a look at this one: "If I'm not much of a planner, how do I make a business plan? They can be boring to me". Haha! Thank you, Green Pearl Electrical and Remedials. I like that one. Yeah, I guess I'm a planner. I'm a planner, I like boxes and stuff like that. But if you are not a planner, I've advised one of my mentees about this, if you're not a planner but it's something you need to do, get creative!

You could get a wad of post-it notes —I'm trying to see if I've got any here and nearby, but I haven't— a wad of post-it notes and use those to just write a couple of words or sentences on. Stick 'em on your wall, stick 'em on the floor, rearrange them, and then, when you've got them in the right order, take a photograph. Job done. Business plan's done. How creative can that be? Now, of course you wanna save that photograph. You wanna make sure you can read everything, 'cause remember, if you're going for funding and grants and things like that, you may be able to put that in your appendices as an example. You won't be able to copy and paste information, so you'd have to sit and type unfortunately. But that's one way you can do it.

Some people have like a vision board, so they get photographs of things that they want to achieve. They might have the photograph of Wembley Stadium, or a photograph of a microphone, or a photograph of a particular outfit. Just different things and you just get a nice cork board or felt board, you know, and stick them on as your way of getting your ideas together, because not everybody wants to take a pen and paper and write. I'm happy to do that, but not everybody else. Sometimes you might want to draw. You might be very creative and an artist, maybe you want to draw out your plan. Remember, the plan is for you. The plan is to help you move forward. So do it in a way that's gonna help you kind of engage with the process, clear your mind, help you to see the wood from the trees, help you as you're going forward, that you'll know who you need to speak to. So Green Pearl, I hope that helps you and hope it's not too boring.


Um, one from Sun Rei: "What if you don't meet your goals for the year?" Ah, really, really good question. Again, it's for you. It really is for you. If you are doing it for a funding company or for the bank, of course they will have an end date for you to sort of achieve it, but if you don't achieve it in that context, you should just give the reasons why. People are always interested in the reasons why. It's not like at school, where "two and two equals five — red cross, end of story". It's not that, it's: "How did you get it to be five? What were you thinking about why it made it five?" You may have a completely sort of different way of calculating two and two and making it five. Of course it equals four, but I'm just trying to, you know, be a bit outside the box in my thinking. So in terms of the goals for you personally, if it's your plan and you haven't achieved them, that's fine, but what you need to realise is why you didn't achieve it.

In my case, going back to the recording, my first plan: I wanted to get my first recording done, I thought I'd get it done in year two or three of my plan, actually happened in year five. Why did it happen in year five? Well, I didn't have any money. I didn't know what to write. Self-doubt, I didn't know if anybody wanted to buy my music! You know, it took me a few years to build up that confidence to say... yeah, you can see I'm folding my hands here, haha, keeping myself together! But it took me a few years to kind of get my head around the whole thing of recording before I actually did it.

The way it actually happened was that I was at a concert and my first producer, Peter Daley, was there. I knew him from a distance, in a "hi-bye" relationship. And he came up to me afterwards and said: "Hmm, you know, if you had some CDs today, you'd have sold buckets". I said: "Really?" He said: "Yes, you would". I said: "Oh?". And he said: "Have you got anything?" And I go: "Well, I've written a couple of things, not sure". He said: "Well, send it to me". And that's how it started.

The fact that I was looking to do a recording —and the fact that he spoke to me— meant that I had enough courage to think: "Okay, I'm gonna send him something", because that's what I really wanted to do. But if he had spoken to me two years earlier where I was going through all that self-doubt and I wasn't sure what I wanted to do, I'd be like: "Yeah, right. Nice talking to you". And I'm off, you know? But because I had that plan and I knew I wanted to achieve it, I did. However, I didn't achieve it in year two or three, I achieved it in year five because of all those reasons. And that is fine. We are all on a journey.

I'm on a journey on YouTube live. Trust me, if you've watched episode one —I've trimmed it now, so those of you who didn't watch episode one, you've missed it. There was so much drama. 8 minutes and 26 seconds of drama getting YouTube live to work. Oh my gosh, it was... ugh. Anyway, I'm learning and I'm happy to say I'm learning, we are all learning. The day you stop learning is the day we become really stale. I hope that answers your question, Sun Rei.


Okay. Well listen, I'm coming to the end of my time here. I hope you enjoyed it. Really, if you did, I'd love you to press that like button. I'd love you to share it to other musicians so they can watch back to, I'd love you to subscribe to my channel. If you haven't watched the other episodes, I'm doing 11 episodes in total. I started on Monday, so my first one was "The Seven Stages of the Gigging Musician" and my next one (scrolling down my list), is the fan base: "Does your music have the juice to pull a crowd?" All about why you should have a fanbase. And yesterday's one is "Why do musicians get killed by sound?" talking about the PA system, why you should have a PA system for your music.

And of course, today is "I'm a Musician. Do I Need a Business Plan?" I hope I have convinced you of the reasons for having a business plan, and if you want to know more, my website is, where you can leave a message, grab one of the free downloads that I'm giving you there. Of course, I've got courses there, if you wanna check those out, and coaching.

One other thing I needed to tell you —she says, flicking through my notes... there was something else— Oh, yes! Tomorrow, it's "Three Reasons Why You Should Charge For Your Music Starting Today".

You can catch the replay to all of my episodes. There's a nice playlist there and links to that too. If you have any questions that I haven't answered, anything I've said that you think you need to know more, please drop it in the comments and I'll check back later and respond to you to see if there's any other question... okay. No? Fantastic! So, let me click here, let me click there, let me get my music on…