Whether they’re a solo act or part of a band, most musicians want the same thing — for their music to be heard. A successful music career, however, requires the same foundations and building blocks as any other business venture. Edmonton author Antonio Ponce explores this issue in his new book, “Don’t Forget the Business Behind the Music Business”.
As the former drummer for Canadian rock band NN, Ponce is writing from experience. The Edmonton entrepreneur spent several years playing shows, touring, creating music, and playing world-renowned festivals. He watched as his band went from a group of friends playing in a local bar, to travelling across the globe to play Japan Music Week in Tokyo, all within a span of six months.
The inspiration behind Ponce’s book, which was released in December of 2016, was his desire to share his knowledge in order to help others succeed.
“When talking to other bands that were trying to take part in the music industry … they would tell me what they had done or what they were doing, I would think to myself, ‘Okay, well I can show them how to do that in minutes’,” said Ponce. “So I thought I could write a book and put all of it in there, just very lean and to the point so that someone can pull up the specific topics they want to deal with and then put it into action right away.”
The book consists of chapters that are organized into different aspects of the business, such as budget, promotion, booking shows, and selling music. Many topics covered in the book are useful for people outside of the music business as well, Ponce said.
“The budget (chapter) — anybody can apply that,” he said. “Students, businesses, anybody.”
Budget and financing are key principles; however, Ponce says that forming relationships in the industry is equally important.
“Just being able to connect to people,” he said. “It’s not even that hard, it’s just about being nice to people, asking them about their day or if they enjoyed the show. If you’re genuinely nice to people and you’re polite and helpful, most of it comes back to you.”
Ponce believes that a common mistake made by up-and-coming musicians is focusing on the fun, social aspects of the career while allowing the business to be swept under the rug.
“It’s fun to go out and party, play music, and travel to different cities — all that stuff is awesome,” he said. “But if you don’t have the boring stuff in order, like marketing, budgeting, and goals, all that other stuff won’t go far.”
As for music students, Ponce urges those in school not to ignore the so called “boring” aspects of their education.
“If you’re in school and you’re taking these types of classes, like accounting or something, really try to learn because it’s going to be very useful,” he said. “You can hire someone to do posters or social media marketing for you, but if you start developing those talents you can save costs by knowing how to do that yourself.”
When it comes to students looking to pursue successful music careers, Ponce stresses the importance of patience and appreciating the smaller victories throughout the journey.
“Know that just like when you’re a toddler learning to walk, you’re going to fall, but you’re going to learn,” he said. “Same thing with music and life in general, you’re going to get there as long as you have a destination in mind. It starts to snowball when you start winning in all these little areas. Eventually you’re going to get there, but the biggest mistake is trying to snowball right away and missing the experience and the journey.”
As for whether another volume is on the horizon, Ponce says that at the moment he is choosing to focus on the promotion of this book, as well as adding to his blog where he expands further on topics covered in the book.
For those who wish to read “Don’t Forget the Business Behind the Music Business”, paperback copies as well as kindle editions are available for order through Amazon, and the book can read for free online as well.
Edited cover photo courtesy of Amazon.