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Carlton Smith Music 
Michael C Smith, November 20 2018

Credit: The "REAL" force behind your music career.

The secret to success in today's music industry is that in order to make it, an artist must be an entrepreneur. The days of performing at an open mic and waiting for an A&R in shining armor to discover you are over. Today's successful artists don't view their careers passively, they view themselves as active entrepreneurs. The artist entrepreneur targets her or his music business objectives with sophistication and calculation using strategic planning, marketing, public relations and promotion. If  you've attended any of my workshops, seminars, or classes you know that in addition to handling all of these tasks and more that the artist must above all fulfill his or her primary function which is creating music. Eventually the artist must ask them self if they should outsource, the non-creative aspects or do it themselves. Whether you outsource these tasks or choose to do it yourself, there is one thing that every artist needs to make it in the business, and that my friends is money.

With out money, nothing moves. Money is the tool that is going to allow you to purchase the goods and services to move your music career forward. Good luck finding someone to make graphics, drive tour buses, book shows, record singles or any other thing for that matter at a professional level. By the way, I do mean professional level. If you're still letting your  friends do your graphics or social media for you, you may already be facing irreparable harm.

So now that I reiterated what you already know,  let's get to the down and dirty of it all. An artist's credit is just as if not more important than their copyright (you know the intellectual property you create which is music). Now don't get me wrong I'm not saying to go out and get a bunch of credit cards, but what I am saying is that for an artist with out money, you can't expect to run your business, which is getting your music out to your fan (customer) base. In in order for you to get the funding needed to make an impact in this business, you are going to have to take out a business or personal loan. That loan is going to allow you to buy the gear and services you need such as studio time, instruments, marketing plans, merchandise and all the other things you need to grow a successful music career.

The truth of the matter however, is that many artists don't have the best credit. It happens to the best of us. Whether it was because you didn't have the money to pay the bill, you ignored your responsibilities or you didn't take it seriously, today I'm going to help you fix that. The first step is to check your credit score.  To do this go to annualcreditreport.com.  Keep in mind that this is the ONLY site  authorized to fill free credit reports from all three agencies (Experian, Transunion and Equifax) in the United States. There's two things you want to look for. Your report and your credit score. On a range of 300-850 you're score should be 700 or higher.

If you're below 700, don't panic. I'm going to tell you how to raise it. The second step is to pull the report and look at any outstanding balances which are 30, 60, 90 and 120 days past due. Make a list of them from lowest to highest balance. If you can pay more than the minimum balance on each great. If not pay the minimum balance. If you can't do that, start with the lowest balance and pay it off, then when that's paid off go to the next and the next and the next. In some cases you can make a deal to pay less than what is owed to satisfy the debt or you can make a payment plan.

The third step is to save money. Situations are going to come up where you need to spend a few dollars on something, and by a few I mean hundreds or thousands. No one is going to care that you're a broke or starving artist. As an entrepreneur it's your responsibility to fund your business. If you're not generating enough money from shows or other sources of income, I recommend saving at least 10% of your Net check. This means if you bring home $1000 a check after taxes you need to put $100 into your music business bank account. If you bring home $500 a check after taxes then you need  to put up $50.

In conclusion, credit isn't the enemy, it's your ally. Create a budget if you don't already have one and really take a hard look at your expenses. Cut out those things that don't make you money and apply it to paying off your bills. After you create your budget really start looking at your marketing and sales and figure out what's really needed to take your songs to fans and partners to make money off of synch, and tours. You should have a written plan that states if you spend X amount of money you expect to make Y. While you need to spend money to make money, good credit will allow you to get money to start with.

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Written by

Michael C Smith


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