Many 19-year-olds work part time jobs while in college. For example, I work in retail while studying Music Industry Arts here, in Ottawa – and I know that at some point, you need to ask customers to buy.

From being an artist, managing one, and sitting in a classroom full of them, I know how hard it is for musicians to think of themselves as small businesses, most of the time. But the cold-as-your-gig-bag-in-Ottawa-winter truth is that it’s nice to have a hobby, but if you love music with all your heart and want to do it as a career for the rest of of your life, you’re going to need to make money from it.

It’s just like my part time job at a small boutique: I welcome people in, and am the nicest brand ambassador they’ll meet that day. I offer coffee from our little machine, and ask them about themselves. We go back and forth, I talk about our products, and from listening to what they have to say, I match them with something that fits their size, taste, and lifestyle exactly. But that’s where most artists end their pitch. Honeys, you’ve got to close the sale too.

My store has beautiful things on display, but we are not a museum. The company’s business model involves me getting paid to have visitors leave my store with something in hand, and currency in mine. We both know they left with something of value to them, and that they’ll give us genuine word-of-mouth promotion. Every brand wants a fan, every artist wants a customer.

Yes, the rise of streaming has made it harder to sell digital mp3 files, but that’s no reason to give up on making a living with art. You’ve got your compositions on physical CD, vinyl, cassette… your band merchandise, your show tickets – hey, even your Patreon page! You create beautiful, quality music, and there are fans willing to support you with their wallets… You just have to ask them.

Artists – you are not a sellout for placing value on what you create. No one is more knowledgeable of the brand that is your sound than you, nor is anyone more qualified to speak about its features and benefits to fans. So go out, learn from your part time retail job, and make sales of your own.

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