Are you planning to last? – ‘The Limelight’

Part 2 of our 3-part mini-series has arrived! Now you’ve ‘made’ it, what’s next?

August 6, 2020 Elle Evans

Welcome back to the second episode of Are you planning to last? On Monday’s episode we touched on what techniques and qualities you should be thinking about when deciding to your launch your career in the music industry. Collaborating with business phenomena and Self-Talk Specialist Alphie Valentine (who’s story you can read back in the last episode) will this week, be walking us through the main distractions and financial planning when reaching the tipping point in your career – ‘The Limelight’.

We live in a landscape in which there are plenty of distractions that can take over the original mindset that artists start with when launching their careers – from access, to partying and even money – all these factors can play a huge role when losing focus. Why do you think that so many artists hit single or first album is always their best? This can be an exciting time for artists when they have finally reached the point in which they have been grinding for for years or even months! Many people tend to take their eye off creating quality music and instead become invested in performing and their brand-new lifestyle and it does not always end well! We must sustain and think of longevity, who wants a career and lifestyle that lasts for 5 minutes?

When reaching this point in your career, there any many things you need to start thinking about financially. Have you got a plan for how you are going to appropriate the money you earn? Are you going to adopt a % structure for how you are going to use your money? Have you thought about tax, investments or even personal development? We asked Alphie the following…

What can artists expect when they reach the limelight? What are the main distractions artists are often accustomed to?

The distraction is from being able to continue with your art, so live shows – access is another fucker! Because all of a sudden, everyone wants you to be everywhere, people don’t want you to turn up as a human or as a person, people want you to turn up as the person they see on the screen and that’s such a head fuck! I don’t care how much people say, ‘That’s just me being me’, you’re in front of a camera! You’re playing a role, or maybe you’re thinking with your business brain – when all the lights are off, are you telling me, how you show up everywhere you are, is exactly how you are? Of course, its not! The Japanese say there’s a parable; ‘We all have three faces, one that we show the world, one that we show close friends and family and one we never show anyone’.

The first thing is the distraction, the distraction comes from people that you are around, wanting you to be out and wanting you to be ‘the guy/girl’. Then there’s money, because money comes typically quite quickly and you haven’t adjusted to become the person to handle that money – so you get all sorts of fucking ridiculous purchases that won’t be assets, won’t make you any money back and they’ll put a strain on you, and you’ll get into a complete rat race because you might have the buss down watch, but guess what…in one year…there’s a new buss down watch! Someone else has got it and then you are playing catch up over something that is slowly hurting you – it’s draining you of your resources! Then it is just the other typical distractions like alcohol and drugs, and for men, women and probably for women, men! I am not against enjoying the spoils of your success, but everything can become a distraction, and it will become one if you are not focused! I talk in quotes and parables all the time; ‘A hammer can be used to create, and a hammer can be used to destroy’, so it is just about understanding that.

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Why is it so important for artists to stay focused?

It’s like being in a hamster wheel; so being an artist is having a job. You know that if you aren’t focused, how quickly 5 years can go and you’re just spinning and doing the exact same shit but not actually progressing. Especially with artists, there is one thing to drop an album, go on tour and promote that entire album but when that’s happening, that could be draining on your creative energy. What tends to happen is anybody that I know, who has done really well, have either taken a serious amount of time out and not partied and fucked up their brain or they have just produced so many hits! You hear of the Tupac’s who have fucking hundreds of hits, that’s what tends to happen with people – they make their first album which is really real to them, about their life and something that they felt, and they change to a different person through the limelight and no longer have this! They’re no longer grinding on the road; they’ve changed but they haven’t allowed their creative being to change to this other person and the music they’re putting out is no longer authentic!

It’s like the ego takes over!

Exactly that! People can feel that, it’s not the raw passion and energy. That’s why with Jay Z and even Kanye West; sonically it changes, he’s not rapping about the struggle! He might be rapping about similar or ‘on trend’ things, but they are saying it in a different way and from a different viewpoint, so people always see it as genuine and effective. The only other strategy I see is, if you write and record so much fucking music that your sound carries you for however long.

The reason that I went bankrupt; I don’t think I said I went bankrupt but I owed the tax man more than what a lot of people earn in a lifetime! I was pretty irresponsible but the reason I went bankrupt is, when you start earning that type of money, 6-7 figures or whatever – you have to become a different person to be able to handle it. When you start seeing that type of fame and building your career sonically as a musician, you have to become a different person to handle it financially! You have to! You have to grow as a person, and nobody really thinks of that. The crazy thing to me is, if you genuinely believed you had this talent and you genuinely believed that you were going to be this artist, why wouldn’t you do that? Why don’t you take a bit of time to think ‘Okay, this is probably going to happen, these challenges will come towards me, how would I like to react? What’s the best version of me?’.

What are the basic requirements to think of financially when launching a career in music?

That is a tricky one! The reason I’d say that, is because from my knowledge, you are going to get an advance typically if you are going to get anything signed and that money is a loan, which will have to be paid back. Think of it as a business, do you have enough to produce what you need? Do you have a strong legal team? You have got to think about burn rate! Burn rate simply means, if I’ve got £100,000 and I’ve now gone from a £500 per month lifestyle to now £10,000, then I know I’ve only got 10 months. What am I going to do in that 10 months to sustain? It’s about general math and if what you’re doing makes sense!

Is there a financial structure that artists tend to lean towards at the beginning?

I don’t think there is any! That’s the challenge! I would love to hear of artists that go ‘I really want to buy this watch for 20 racks, but before I buy that watch, I want to make sure that I’ve got 50 so I can put at least 20 away, I can enjoy 10 and buy the watch comfortably for 20’ – I don’t think that happens! From a personal point of view, the amount of time I know that the watch will cost 20, they will give their first 15 and pay off when they have got some more money! Now they own it, but they don’t have fuck all else after it – it becomes toxic! You put your strain on yourself for something that rarely can pay you back anything; it can only make you look or feel a certain way which normally is a feeling that doesn’t last. I massively believe in, if you are going to do any of that right now, the smarter way to do it would be by you buying assets that pay for it. You have an object paying for an object, as opposed to your energy paying for the object.

What type of investments should be looking at from this stage?

You want something that’s income generating. Do you know what means?

Yeah! It’s like when you invest in a house and start renting it…

Yeah! So, a mortgage is a payment until death – that’s what it actually means. It’s a complete liability, you are paying for this thing for 20-25 years, sometimes even longer! If you buy a house and are good with maths, and you get that property so that someone else is renting it and giving you an income – then by all means you now have an asset. It’s no longer a liability because somebody else is paying that mortgage and you are probably making a bit of change from it. It’s not just property, but you want to be thinking and investing into businesses. You want to be putting your money into areas that give you a return, because then you can build a lifestyle that is sustainable. If you’re up £2000 and you’ve got 4 houses giving you £500, then worst case scenario if one tenant leaves you just get somebody else in. It’s about having things of that nature that are diversified and income generating for you.

At best, I believe in having a tiny bit of cash relative to your situation – typically you should have 3 months of cash for your lifestyle, 6 months is good – Personally, I wouldn’t do much more than 6 months in available cash. For example, if you said to me ‘Alphie, my outgoings are £5,000 a month’ and I said ‘Okay, have you got £30,000 and you said to me ‘No!’ – so what happens if things fuck up tomorrow? If you have that £30,000, then you have 6 months to figure it all out. How much can change in 6 months when you are putting your mind under stress; let me make sure you know what I mean by ‘under stress’ – by giving it a challenge to solve. I have found that making good decisions is much easier when you’re doing it from a calm state as opposed to reactive, stressed and panic state.

Which is what people tend to do – panic!

100%! Do you know what I heard the other day, 11 million people in the UK don’t have £100 in their savings…11 MILLION! There is a further statistic, I think it said that 60% of people don’t have enough to go past 1 month – It’s mad! As soon as you are emotional about something, you are easily persuaded, you are just looking for any type of answer! When you are not emotional, you can think about what’s best for you, it might be right, and it might be wrong – but who gives a shit, its what’s best for you! I don’t believe in right or wrong, I believe in what’s best for you. Don’t get me wrong, I understand morals – one thing we call a moral in this country, you can go to another country and they’ll say ‘That’s standard! That’s normal, that’s what we believe and that’s what works for us’ – I believe in finding what’s best for you. If you are stressed, scared or in fear, you are more than likely going to look for the quickest way to protect yourself, which 9 times out of 10 will be somebody else’s version as opposed to what’s best for you.

Tasks:  

Have you got a basic financial plan?
What would the first 3 things you buy be and how do you plan to buy them?
What types of investments would you make?
Do you have an accountant? Legal team? If so, who?

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