For those of you who are following along, a couple of weeks back I wrote a blog about the guys who have a show on the History Channel called American Pickers and how their formula for success can be useful in the life of an up and coming Musician or Band. If you haven’t read that yet, you can find it here.
Tonight I’m going to conclude this two part series by by shifting gears slightly and looking at
another popular show on History Channel called Pawn Stars.
Pawn Stars is about a family owned Pawn Shop in the center of Vegas. This Grandfather / Father / Son team and their sidekick Chumlee hang out in their shop all day (don’t let the term ‘shop’ fool you. It appears to be a pretty nice sized establishment ) and people show up from all over the globe to bring in stuff for them to make money on. Some of this stuff is awesome and unique and some of it isn’t worth anything at all. The Pawn Stars asses the value of whatever is brought to them, decide if it will benefit their business, and then either take it into their shop at a discounted rate or they say “Thanks but no Thanks” and send the Pawnee on their way.
(I’m not sure that Pawnee is a real word, but you know who I mean)
If something finds it’s way into their shop, (we’ll call it an opportunity) and they’re not sure if they can clarify the value of this opportunity, they call on one of the many outside experts that they’ve come to trust through networking and doing business with over the years. These experts will give them a more accurate value of that opportunity so they can move forward with the opportunity in the most productive financially effective way.
So, if part one of this blog was for musicians who are still working hardto try and find an audience (Pickers), this weeks blog is for those of you who are starting to see some success and are having opportunities brought to you more and more frequently. Eventually if you pick long enough, and play it the way your supposed to, you’ll accumulate enough stuff (fans, ticket sales) that you can open up shop. People will see all of the stuff (fans, ticket sales, success) that you have and they’ll want to come to you to offer you other stuff (opportunities) that THEY think that you should have. The faster you acquire success, the faster people will almost magically show up at your door. Thus making you a Pawn Star. But you’ll notice from watching this show (or even from just reading the introductory paragraph of this Blog) that to become a successful Pawn Star, you need to know which of these opportunities is actually going to benefit you and your career, and which ones to say “Thanks but No Thanks” to. Unfortunately, there a lot of people out there who have nothing but junk to offer, and don’t have a problem unloading it to be a part of your shop (successful career) and walk away with some of your cash.
Entertainment Attorneys, Business Managers, Coaches , Producers, Booking Agents, Graphic Designers, Sound Guys, Lighting Technicians, Press Agents. All of these could be considered necessary at some point in a musician’s career. And eventually, these are the experts whose council you will seek when other ‘opportunities’ show up at your shop.
During your time as a picker, be sure to be spending some time ”picking” your team. By this I mean, keeping an eye out for those who will help you make decisions, and share some of their experience so that it will benefit you. And just because someone comes along and tells you that they’re a great booking agent, doesn’t mean that they are the right booking agent for you. Network. Go to Music Conferences. Talk to other artists who these experts work with. Make sure they are the right experts for you and what you do. In any business situation, you should be striving to create win/win situations, and so should these experts. Also, make sure you get a good feeling while working together. You’ve got an intuition. Use it! Give some value to it. Combine that with opinions from other people that you already know and trust. Sometimes people will surprise you with their insight. Lastly, NEVER be afraid to ask questions. Often we become afraid of hurting someones feelings, or seeming ignorant. Don’t be. I read a Chinese Proverb yesterday that said “He who asks a question is a fool for five minutes. He who does not ask a question remains a fool forever.” Recognize the value in your career and your life. Don’t be afraid to ask anybody who wants you to pay for their services any questions at all. It’s all about moving forward. If they don’t get that, they’re most likely not the right fit.
Once you’ve “picked” enough to have a “pawnshop”, you’ll have surrounded yourself with experts you trust. You’ll only pay what other peoples stuff is actually worth and your accumulation of stuff (fans, ticket sales) will turn into more stuff (clothing, song sales, DVD Sales, Interviews, world tours) that people will bring to you. Before you know it, you’ll have gone from Picker to Pawn Star.
Enjoy The Ride!!