There is NO recession. I’ll say that again. There is NO recession. In the coming months with this election fast approaching you’re going to hear a lot about how safe you should play it and how dangerous our economy is. These are fear tactics. Without getting too deep into politics and keeping this on it’s effect on how I’m approaching things with Uncommon, I’ll point out a few things. Major corporations continue to thrive, despite what they say. Companies like Google and Apple make money hand over fist. A tiny company like Instagram was just scooped up by Facebook for an unseemly sum. In my personal life I work for a media company that delivers entertainment content to millions of people that take that content in on shiny expensive devices. The bottom line is that if we were in a true recession, these things wouldn’t be happening. A recession has NOTHING to do with whether you can or can’t get a job, a recession has to do with whether the companies that control power can do what they need to do to grow. I haven’t even mentioned the Oil business or traditional blue chip sectors.
In running Uncommon I’ve learned a few things. First, to be patient. I’ve finally reached a point where my two small businesses, Uncommon Records and Nasa Labs (my recording business) are sharing profits and re-investing in each other. This creates the opportunity to actually spend money. I’m pressing up more physical product and travelling more now then I ever have. It took 8 years to get to this point and I’m no where near where I want to be with Uncommon. But it’s all levels, you start spending money and not making it back, then you spend as much money as you earn back, then you make a profit. I think we’re somewhere in between step 2 and 3, but we were in step 1 for almost 5-6 years. That breaks most people and breaks most companies….especially in music.
I’ve been lucky enough to get us to this point in a “bad economy”, because I run companies that do something specific that specific people want. At this point, it’s just a matter of creating more of those specific items and multiplying the specific people looking for them. At the same time, in my personal life I’ve also been fortunate to stay employed, but mainly because I have a specific skill set and background and have moved with the times to stay fresh.
I know lots of folks that have no real set of skills that are disgruntled to not be working. I know lots of musicians that are disgruntled that they can’t sell music or tour. Patience is what’s needed and during that time, it’s about crafting out that set of skills that hopefully will keep you working in music (or any field you’d like to be in) through your 50s. I feel like I’ve done that, I’m 33 and I started working humbly at that by the time I was 17. Will I ever be rich? Probably not. But I’m not going to be working some office job or serving fries or escorting people to the electronics department at a Walmart.
Living humbly is another factor. A lot of the people you see on television or that respond to polls think that they should be filthy rich and might not see how good they have it to have a roof over their head and a stable family under it. As someone the grew up under harsh circumstances I’m at ease knowing that at this moment I have both of those things and that’s what’s important.
So to wrap this up, if you are in the creative fields, don’t be afraid to take calculated risks. When the economy is perceived to be “down” (you know when Democrats are in office), is the best time to strike. Even if it’s small, even if it’s one show some place new. Even if it’s a short run of CDs. No matter what, it’s a start. There is always a chance of getting burned, I can point to lots of examples where I have been burned, but almost all of those took place during the “boom” years of the 00’s when I started my label.
More of this running a label/business/staying employed thing is about self determination and life experience then what’s happening in Greece or with the Euro. Don’t let cable news turn you into a corporate drone. Build your own kingdom, even if it’s incredibly small. Good luck.