TRANSCRIPTION: "Success Beyond The Score" Podcast, S.3, EP. 7

Here is the transcription of episode 7 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


Hello, hello, hello. I hope you're well. I've changed my setup here. I've put my notes to this side. So if you see me looking that way, that's what I'm looking at instead of that way. And I had a nice iPad stand for my birthday yesterday. So I'm really excited. I'm trying it out today.
Really, really happy. So I'm hoping you can hear me okay. Um, it looks as though my volume might be a little bit too loud. So let me just turn that down one second. Yeah, that seems a bit better, not peaking.

Okay, so today is about: "Do you have a music hobby or a music business?" And I think this is a really good topic. When I started off, many moons ago, at school, I did some music, left school, did some part-time studies. Music was my hobby, and eventually I moved it into a music business. And currently I'm mentoring some women in my Time for My Music course and programme. What they are doing is transitioning their music hobby into a music business.

And I thought this would be a really, really good topic to speak about to you today, because maybe you're thinking about doing this. Maybe already it is a business, but you're not sure if it's quite there or not. Maybe you're thinking: "How do I do it?" Maybe you're thinking: "Actually, I play music, I want to do it full time. How do I do that? What's the difference?"

Well, today I'm going to tell you why you should do it. I'm going to tell you some of the differences, and I'll give you one or two tips. Obviously, I'm just trying to keep this to 30 minutes. I won't be able to tell you everything going on. But certainly, don't forget to just check out my freebies "25 Secrets Of The Successful Gigging Musician, Singer, Rapper and Spoken Word Artiste" and "10 Reasons Why They Will Pay You In Advance," which is on my website All these things are to help you build your music. And, of course, if you like the topic, share, share, share, share, subscribe... I would really love that.


So, I mentioned that in my 20s and 30s, music was my hobby. In fact, I had friends who were making music as their full time occupation. There were guys, though. I didn't see many women doing that. Of course, there were women probably doing it, but I didn't see many women doing it. But guys actually did this. They made it their full time career. For me, it wasn't a biggie because, well, in my household, music wasn't the thing. You know, I was the first musician in my family. And it was very much about just getting a job and getting paid and so on. So there was not a push from my family in that respect. And that's not to be disrespectful, that's just the way the setup is.

However, I got to about 42 and I thought: "You know what? I really want to make a big push on this. I'm going to see if I can make this happen." And I transitioned from hobby to business over a few years. What was a deciding factor? Applying business principles. So immediately I'm telling the answer. Being a hobbyist and being a musician, a full time musician, business self-employed. Night and day. Very, very different.
Let me just spell it out a bit more for you. If you have questions, please put them in the chat. I'm just looking down on my phone. Ah, Michelle, you're back with me today. Hi! Thank you for the birthday greetings. Thank you. Sun REI. Thank you very much.


Okay, so, our hobby is fun. It's relaxing. You get in from work, pick up your instruments. That's it. You're good to go. Your approach to learning is more casual. You do it because you want to do it, and if you don't feel like doing it today, you just don't. You don't have to practise if you don't want to. There's no pressure on that, just from your own self. You're not interested in getting paid as a hobbyist. Just playing. You know, where I live, I can hear a sax player in his garden, or her garden, or their garden. That's kind of one of the things about hobbyists. I would say, as a hobbyist, sometimes you do get paid. Sometimes, you might do something and someone might give you something for your petrol or whatever, but that is not the focus for you. You're not really interested in getting on stage, you're interested in just enjoying your music, playing your piano or whatever.

If you do get asked to play at a friend's birthday party, a family event or whatever, you might do it, you might not. You will just show up, show off and go home. And when I say show off, I don't mean that in a horrible way, because as musicians, we all show off. Come on people! We do! That's why we're on the stage, we show off! That's what people like to see, and they feel entertained. So we show up, show off and go home. That's what the hobbyists do.

What about the person who wants to make music full time, see it as a business? What's the difference? Well, firstly: What is a business? A business is about money. Plain, simple, bottom line, it's about money. It's about making money and any business person will tell you that. It's about making money, and for some people, it's about making profit. That's extra money after you've covered all your costs. For other people, it's just covering costs, not making profit. Ploughing it back in, that's charities. But for businesses, it's about money and handling money. It's commercial.

I looked in the dictionary before I did this session and they defined business as "occupation, trade, profession." That sounds good because I wanted to do music full time as my profession; become a professional musician. The money I earn pays my bills. The money you earn pays your bills. I get paid a fee. I'm not salaried because I'm not working for someone else. There are different types of business setups —I mentioned charities and so on. Today, I'm really focused on the self employed, someone who's working for themselves. But the rules kind of cover for all, to a point.

In a business, you're gonna do some bookkeeping to figure out where all your money's gone. You're gonna do your tax return (hopefully you do your tax return). As a hobbyist, you don't want to get known, you just want to play your music. For a business, as a musician, you need to get known. You need to get known to keep yourself in work. You want to get known because you want to get known. You want to hit the charts, or you want to tour, or you want to do whatever. This is about pushing yourself out. As a business, you are going to future-proof your music. You're going to really think about the things you need to put in place to make it happen.
Now, on my YouTube channel, I did a session two years ago, for Sound Connections and Trinity Laban, in London. It is called "Future-proofing Your Music." You want to probably go and check out that video. I explain everything there about future-proofing.


A music business is fun. There are days when it's not so much fun, when you've got to get ready for gigs and you're a little bit behind learning the music, or you've got a customer that's doing your head in, or you've got a long journey just to go on stage for an hour, or whatever. There's some side of it that isn't that much fun, but there are other sides that are great.

Practising is more important as a business. You've got to be practising. I'm not going to sit here and tell you that you've got to practise how many hours a day, because the truth of the matter is, when you're running your own business, you've got to make time to run the business, and to practise, and to do everything else. You're spinning a lot of plates, so... but when you practise, it's more targeted. It's more focused. You know what it is you need to do to get that job done.

You do show up, but the thing is: you show off, then you show up. In the business, showing off is not just about who you are, but where they can find you and what they see of you before they book you. Then you show up and say: "This is me. This is my structure. This is my business, this is what you're going to get from me, and okay, you gotta pay me." Something like that. And then, when you finish, you go.

If you're a hobbyist, it doesn't really matter that much if you're doing friends' weddings, bookings and things like that. And maybe you're asked to do a community festival because you're just doing it for free, just doing it for fun. But when you want to make a living out of your music, you really need to put it on a business footing. And I know that sounds scary. As musicians, we just want to do our art. You're thinking: "How am I going to get it done?" I just want to be very truthful. It worked for me, and I think, if you speak to any successful musician, they'll be telling you they're applying various business principles to make it all happen.

As I mentioned, I applied business [principles], it grew, it's my profession. I had to change my mindset from a hobbyist to a professional musician. And what I'm going to do next is to really drill down and give you some really clear examples, because one of the areas that I've not seen much talked about on the net or anywhere else is business to business work.


I mentioned to you about, say, working for, you know, doing a wedding, which is where you're booked by an individual (written as B2C, “business-to-consumer”). Maybe you do a funeral, you're booked by a family. But business to business (B2B, “business-to-business”) is where they book you as a musician to perform at their business organisation. So it could be the police, it could be for the Council, it could be a travel agent, that's business to business. And I just want to give you some things that they look out for, for booking, because it's one thing being a professional musician, but you've got to grow that business, and you've got to have a roster of business to business work as well as individual work.

If you're enjoying it so far, don't forget to like, share and subscribe. And, of course, don't forget to grab "25 Secrets Of The Successful Gigging Musician, Singer, Rapper, And Spoken Word Artiste" and/or "10 Reasons Why They'll Pay You Before Gig Day" from my site.

Okay. If you want to do work with other businesses, one of the things is: you have to become a business. They're not necessarily going to book you as an individual, and if they do, they're going to be asking you some questions, which you may not be able to answer. And it's not to say you won't get an answer, but it might take you a while to get the documents in place, which means you might lose the contract. Have a growth mindset, learn from that, move on to the next time, you've got those documents in place. But the first thing: you have to be an entity.

My name is Millicent Stephenson, but my business name is also Millicent Stephenson. When they're talking about Millicent Stephenson Saxophonist, I tag the word saxophonist at the end. That helps me to think about myself as a business entity and what I need. Some artists will have a different name just to separate themselves and that's fine, but you will have to think about yourself as an entity, because when they're speaking to you, they're speaking about the business side of you, not you personally, like what you like to eat and what you like to wear and stuff like that. They're interested in your skill. They're interested in your music. It's a bit like supermarkets, you know, Morrison's, Tesco, Aldi, Lidl, you name it. They are entities and you know what you get when you go there to shop. You have to look at it yourself in the same way.

That business organisation is coming to you because they look at you, they like what you do, and that's what they want from you. So you have to put your personal side aside and remember that they're looking at the business side of you. Even if you give yourself a different name, even if your band has a different name or whatever you come up with, you are an entity. So it's important to know that that is what they are buying and that's a change in your mindset.
Now, when a business comes to you, they're looking —and they're hoping— that you've got structure. What do I mean by that? They're going to take you more seriously if you can send them a contract. They're going to take you more seriously if you can handle their contract, because some of them will send theirs. They're going to want insurance in place. If you're a member of the Musician's Union in the UK, there are some insurances that come in place with your subscription, which is really, really good.

They're going to want to know that you've got safe equipment. I've been booked for weddings and, you know, the venue will be contacting me and say: "You need to have your public liability insurance, can I have your portable appliance testing certificate?" These are things to say that I'm operating safely and also, if something happens, I can cover it. You need to have those in place.

They want to know where you are, you know, so do you have a business address? Some musicians just use a home address, which is fine. I have a business address because I prefer that separation. They want to know they can find you, they're going to be checking you out. Have you got a website? Where can I find you on your socials? That's really interesting for them. A booking process! You need to create your own sort of process of how you're going to handle bookings. Someone calls you up and says: "Can I book you?" What are you going to send them? What are you going to do next?

That reminds me of my website, I do have a course that looks on bookings, how to handle your bookings and what to do when someone calls you. How to get bookings, how to create an invoice, that kind of thing. That's in my store, by the way.
Business to businesses. They're looking at that professional image. Okay, if you've got a picture on your website with just you and a t-shirt, with a glass of beer on the sand in Marbella, or somewhere like that, that doesn't look professional. They're like: "I don't think so!" Why? Because they have a brand and a reputation to uphold, and whoever they work with has got to have the same kind of thing. They're not going to take that cheesy photo and book you, so you're going to have to have a professional image on your site.

I am... I don't like talking about myself a lot, but I will say it, I will say it: I am booked because of the way I look. Not [like I look] right now, guys, this is relaxed me, wigs off, hats off. Make-up doesn't matter. This is just me being truthful. This is the other side of me, which is the same side as you. But then, when I'm in business mode, I'm dressed up, and I'm doing business. That's my separation. I know some people say: "Well, you should walk around looking like you do on stage." No! That's work. Does a doctor walk around with a stethoscope all the time? Does a janitor walk around with his mop and bucket everywhere he goes? No, they don't! So don't ask me to do that! It is my separation from my work. Good grief.

But, I am booked for how I look. If you go onto my website and any of my platforms, you'll see me in action. I'm also booked because I handle the business side of the business. I have a bookings process, I have a payments process, I have contracts, I have arrangements. And if you have all these things in place, it leads to great word of mouth and recommendation.

The third point I should say about working with businesses, other businesses, is that you have a receptacle for handling finance. I think it was in episode two or three I mentioned that I was sorting out some stuff internationally and then COVID happened so I couldn't get up there. But because it was a different country, I had to be thinking about how I would handle the financial side and collecting a payment. That's something you have to put in place. How am I going to handle the bookings? Something I had to put in place. But, for businesses, they want to know you can handle finances.

So, very large companies. I've worked for West Midlands Police, a large organisation. I've worked for Birmingham City Council, I've worked for the Chamber of Commerce in Worcester. They need to put me on their suppliers list, they need to have my bank details, they need to know where I can invoice them. Sometimes they want to have a VAT number, and if you're VAT registered, they'll want that, if you're not, that's fine. They've got to do their due diligence, you know, I talked about reputation. But from a financial side, and handling their money, and working with their auditors, they've got to have these things in place to say: "Yes, I have booked a bona fide contractor. They can receive payments for me and I can send that payment."

I'm very conscious I'm saying lots of business words as I'm speaking to you. Very sorry about that! Just put that in the comments, it's something I can respond to, or you can just google certain words and you'll get the meanings coming up. I just wanted to raise the whole thing of working with other businesses, rather than just working with the individual person, because these are things they want. I'd also say: don't panic, take your time and build up. When I transitioned my hobby into a business, it took me about maybe five or so years to do it because I was just, you know, hitting my toe on something, falling over, picking myself up, correcting.

Okay, like, one of the ladies from Time for My Music asked about risk assessment. Well, I've got a risk assessment. When did I find that out? When did I come across that? Maybe a few years ago, when one of the organisers... Ah! It was at Crescent Theatre. Yep, Crescent Theatre, doing my first Not Just Jazz show. They said: "We need a risk assessment." and I'm like: "What?" They explained what they wanted. My husband's an electrician, so I was able to talk to him about it and we got the risk assessment sorted. Job done. Now I have a risk assessment. So you want to sort of take your time in that way in building your business.


I'm just going to see if there are any questions... "Hobbyists show up and then show off. Professionals show off and then show up. Love it." Ah, thank you, Green Pearl. "[As] an entity, can you be prevented from using your name, or limited in using your name; get in trouble using your name?" Oh, right. Yeah. Yeah, using your name. There aren't any rules about names if you're self-employed in the UK. If you move to becoming a limited company — a limited company is whereby... Why do most people go for a limited company? One, for the tax benefits, and two, if anything goes really belly up, and they have to go to court, or someone comes after them for money, then their houses don't go, it's just the business that suffers the loss. As a self-employed person, you suffer that loss. You withstand that loss in terms of, you know, they can come for your house [or] whatever if you forfeit some loans and things like that. That's what I mean. In terms of a name, the limited company, yes, there are restrictions, and when you decide on your company name as a limited company, they will tell you: "That name is taken, that name is taken, create something else."

If you go into signing with a label —I mentioned that I don't really cover labels, but I know a few of my friends who are assigned to labels— then you can have restrictions on the use of your name in that. The contract might say: "You can use your real name on stage, but we own that side of you, so you can't perform anywhere else using your name." That has been written into contracts. And that's why some people, just like Beyoncé: that's not her real name, that's a stage name. Tina Turner, that's a stage name. There is that sort of separation from the stage name being the name the label owns, and your real name being yourself.
But as a self-employed person, it's entirely up to you if you want to have a stage name or if you want to use your own name. Of course, if there are lots of John Smiths (I'm just using a common name here), you may just want to have something that's a little bit more recognizable. I hope that helps, Green Pearl.


Sun REI: "It's like having two sides, Clark Kent and Superman." Yeah, it is, a bit. I mean, even though I use my own name, when I go on stage, I become this other person. I do have a stage persona. When I'm at home with my friends, I like to chill. I think it was yesterday I mentioned to you that I don't like to perform at family events, because I am bringing the other side of me into my family world. And for me, I want that separation. I don't want to be working at a family event. So whilst I've done one or two in the past, I generally just refuse to do them. I remember when my father in law passed away, and at the funeral people were saying: "Oh, I thought you'd be playing." Or at my mother in law's birthday party: "Oh, I thought you'd be playing." I'm like: "No, no, I want to just be family" and they don't get that, they like the entertainment factor. For me, it's work. So yeah, Superman / Clark Kent. I go with that.
If you have any questions, please put them in the chat. And if you think of things afterwards, of course, please put them in the comments. And I will be checking my comments later and I will reply.


I think the fourth point to say with business to business, which I've already alluded to before, is visibility. If a business is going to book you, they want to know that you're visible. Now, it doesn't necessarily mean that they will be promoting you on stage. I remember doing [a gig] for a very large organisation and they had me up on the screen, which is fine, but they weren't doing that publicity push for me, which is fine. It's business. It's about their business. But they want to know that you are visible. They will check your website.

Last week, I was in Worcester playing for Arrange My Escape. Wonderful people. Great, great, great travel agent who got named number one in England and Ireland for their work in the travel agency world. They contacted me, and as I was talking to them, you know, I was saying: "I'm not sure if you've heard me play or anything," and they say: "Yeah, yeah, we've checked you out, I've seen your website, seen this, seen that." They will do their due diligence on you. And if they can't find you, they may not necessarily book you. If they can't see you in action, like on videos, they probably won't book you. In fact, tomorrow I'm actually looking at videos in the podcast. So turn up for that. I'm going to talk to you about the benefits of videoing your gigs and why you should.

Visibility is really important. And also, visibility is linked to your fee and the amount of zeros they will pay. If you're visible —they can see your work, they can see that you've got a track record, they can see testimonials— [then] they're not going to quibble too much about your fee. Very rarely are they going to be like: "Okay, we can't pay that." Some of them might want to shave if they've got a strict budget. Some of them won't, they'll just say: "That's your fee, we'll pay it."
So, the bottom line is: if you want to work for other businesses and large corporations, and do things like that, they don't want a hobbyist. They want a professional and a person that matches their brand, that works with their brand.


Let me just check the chat and see if there are any questions. Right: "How do I get a good photo for my visibility?" Well, you need a professional photographer, or someone who's really, really good with their photography work. You want to look at their work, make sure you're happy with what they're doing. There are some rules around the size and the pixelation. I do have a podcast [episode] that talks about photos, I think it's in my Season 1. After I come off here, I will put the link in the description so you can go and check that out. But you do need to have good photos, stuff that looks really, really good on the internet. You don't want one that, when you blow it up, it gets all pixelated and grainy and what have you. That's not professional. And it's a first tell that you're not professional. They gotta look good. Of course, there are different qualities. Some photographers will give you lower quality ones for your website, so it loads faster, but it's still quite good in terms of when you expand it. I hope that helps, but I'll put a link in there for you, Green Pearl.


Okay. Let me have a look. Right: "If I want to change my hobby into business, what would be the first steps I take?" The first step I would suggest is get some advice. I would certainly recommend going on a start your own business course. There's generally lots of them on the net for free, maybe at your local college [too], and it will just take you through all the different setups. I do offer coaching. On my website,, there's a coaching tab. Generally speaking, I think what I did when I decided to make that first transition was to come up with my business plan. I covered business plans a couple of days ago, so check that out. It's not as scary as you think, but you really want to know where you're going, how you're going to get to, that kind of thing.

I think that structure is really, really important. There's no sort of magical "I must fill in a form and I now become a business.". There's no magical [formula where] you just have to decide: "I'm now going to be a business". And do it at the point where you're earning money. That's the main thing, when you're earning money from what you do, that's the point to sort of thinking about formalising what you do, and whether you become a sole trader or whatever, and obviously then start to register for paying taxes. But if you're not earning any money, then I wouldn't class yourself as professional yet. I would use that time to put things in place, to really get your work going, and to start putting your cap in the rings in different places.


Another question here is: "What if you are really scared of becoming a business because you don't feel you can handle things like tax, invoicing negotiation, etc.?" Yeah, I think if you're really scared of that —which we all are, I mean, my advantage was that I did a business and finance qualification before, so I was comfortable in moving in to business— but if you're not comfortable, you might want to consider another option whereby you get onto an agency, and then the agency take on the bookings and help you with the invoicing, or they may have an invoice template you can use and stuff. Or, as I said, go on a course.

You may want to have a family member who can help you, say, with the sales side and handling bookings, because that's not your forte. In the early days for me, I wasn't very good at negotiating my fee, and I wasn't good at handling the booking inquiries. I just was kind of petrified of "what do I say, how do I do, because they want me and want to talk about myself." My heart was really on both sleeves, you know, and so I asked my husband to do it, because he was really good at that. Eventually, after a couple of years, my confidence grew. I went on a couple of negotiation courses and booking courses, and I thought: "Right, I can take this on." Now, I handle my own bookings. So that might be an option where you get someone else that you trust to handle a particular aspect of your business.

I would give a strong warning, which my accountant gave me. When he took me on, he said: "I'll do your bookkeeping for you, because I can do bookkeeping, but I will not handle your cheque book, I will not sign your cheques, and I will not want my name to be as a signature for your cheque." That is a good person, because whoever can sign your cheque book, and handle your cheques, they own your money. And there are a lot of stories of artists who are signed to labels, where they just have zero or nothing because the money goes into someone else's name and not theirs, and they only realise it afterwards. I think Ruby Turner, interviewed on season two, mentioned that from a labour point of view, so you might want to check that out. Also in Tony Bean's interview [on] season two. He's an international record producer, and he's worked with a lot of big names, like Kelly Rowland. He talked about the label side, so if you're interested in that, go check that out. But as a self-employed person, you handle your cheque book, you're the signer to the chequebook. Of course, we're doing plastics and online, but what I mean is, your bank and your cheque book is yours, no one else's.


Okay then. I think that's it for me today. I hope that helps in just having the separation between hobby and business. It's down really to the money and how you use your time, and if you want to work with other businesses as a hobbyist, it's not really going to work.

If you have any more questions, please put them in the chat. I will look forward to hearing from you and reading from you. Don't forget, if it's your first time here, go over to and grab either or both "25 Secrets Of The Successful Gigging Musician, Singer, Rapper and Spoken Word Artiste" or "10 Reasons Why They Will Pay You Before Gig Day." Of course, if you're interested in any of my other products, I have courses on how to get paid, courses about getting bookings and coaching. That's all on that website, too.

Tomorrow I will be looking at videoing. Why you should video record your gigs. Giving you some reasons for doing that. If you're already doing it, please listen in. There may be something you'll learn. If you're not doing it, this is something you've got to do. But I'm going to explain all about it tomorrow. Don't forget to like, share, subscribe. See you!