This episode about your creative entrepreneur type was previously published on the Profitable Musician Show.
Lisa Robin Young is the founder of Ark Entertainment Media. She helps creative entrepreneurs define and achieve success on their terms, and believes the best way to be truly successful in life and business is to be yourself. In this episode, she shares her journey about owning her niche, doing what she loves, and making a profit.
She has been a musician since was two years old. It started with her singing and dancing with big wooden lid from her big toy box. By 3 or 4, she was charging her neighbors a nickel to watch her sing and dance. She’s always been interested in both Music and Business. The band from Flint, which is from her hometown, was her inspiration when she was ten. She told herself back then that she wanted to be a rockstar.
As every well-meaning parent does, they advised her to put all her efforts into music if she really wanted to pursue it. In high school, she took all the music classes and there was a point she had two 6-hour classes, because the band teacher and choir teacher both wanted her.
In college, she got her degree in Music Theory, Music History and a minor in Vocal Performance. She recognized that she needed to learn more about the business side of things and took Business, Law, Marketing, Advertising, and all those things.
She started at Bowling Green in Ohio, but they wouldn’t let her take Music Composition, and only the introductory class. So she left and went back a few years later to a different school. She really wanted to write because she felt that she needed to write good songs first like Billy Joel did, so that she can be a rock star.
She left music to get a job and work. However, she had an awakening moment in her car when she was on her way to her therapy appointment. God told her she was going to record 300 songs. She needed to get back to music.
She set up a recording studio at her home and is now halfway through the project and has put together 130-ish songs. She did some original songs and a lot of cover songs. She takes the songs out of their genre. For example, she did a cover of Aerosmith’s Dream On and people who would never listen to them get the opportunity to experience the stories of music in a different way, appreciate it and change their lives.
When she started recording on her own, Lisa also started sharing videos of her rehearsals and performances, which led to her second and third album. She is now working on her fourth album. She tells people her music is pop infused jazz and blues. In the process, she was invited to join the reality show, Encore. It’s the show where they take adults and reunite these casts of high school musicals to remount their high school musical, and you’ve got less than a week to put the show back on.
As it was a reality-based show, we also got our storylines. For me, as a performer, that’s the thing. For me, it’s never been about being in the spotlight but about recognizing the influence and the impact that you can make in people’s lives immediately. To be able to reach into people and stir up stuff that maybe hasn’t been stirred, needs to be stirred, or needs to be stirred again to inspire them to incite them to make their lives better, that’s always been my driving force.
Lisa recommends Jennifer Lopez’s documentary Halftime. It allows you to get the sense of how much responsibility a celebrity carries on their shoulders.
Artists should be able to separate themselves from the work. The money is important too. However, for Lisa, it was more about how she could touch, change, and reach people. The awards are that nice extra to have a thing.
Lisa and Bree are both fusion creatives. They are good at a lot of things and you cannot ask them to pick only one thing to do. On the other end of the spectrum are linear creatives. They need to know the detail about the budget, schedule, systems and processes, and there has to be order within the day. Since they are number focused, they usually find financial success a little faster than everyone else. You need to find a way that works for you.
Linear creatives are usually interior designers, instructional designers, or those people helping with intellectual property and system methodologies. They don’t usually identify themselves as creatives. All entrepreneurs are creatives, but not all creatives are entrepreneurs.
Since the pandemic, Lisa does not have much income coming from the music side of things. They now come mostly from the business side of things, like work coaching with clients and working with other creative entrepreneurs to grow their businesses. They have a pay for results model. If the client makes money, they also make money. They keep helping the client until they do make money. Around 15-20% of the revenue comes from merch like books, CDs, online classes, and other things like that.
2020 to 2021 was a good year for Lisa financially because people were pivoting and people were looking for new ways of thinking. Now, she’s finding more into performance and recording opportunities because more people are now exploring the virtual side of things. Relationships are still important so that when someone needs your service, they can call you and do it for them.
Lisa wants to encourage musicians who aren’t yet at that profitable and sustainable place with their music to do whatever they need to do to have some sustainability and relief in their lives. If that’s a day job, a bridge job, or driving ride share. Do what you have to do and let the “stigma of that.” Drop the judgment around it because here’s the thing.
You’ve got to do what creates a space of safety for you so that you can take those risks musically, show up more authentically and do the work that matters to you as a musician or artist. If you are constantly wondering about, “Where am I going to sleep tonight? How am I going to put food on the table?” That saps your creativity.
This is true for entrepreneurs and musicians across the board, and I tell people, “Shift your mindset. Let your job be your sugar daddy or side hustle. Music is my thing, and my day job is my side hustle.”
Lisa shares this inspirational speech for you to remember: “If you remember nothing else from this episode, the one thing that I always want to drive home is my favorite quote from Judy Garland. “Always be a first-rate version of yourself instead of a second-rate version of somebody else.” Especially as a musical artist, especially if you are doing cover songs, it’s easy to borrow, take, and use what’s already been done, but I’m going to put my little flavor on that. It sounds so much like it’s already been done. It’s not innovative. It’s not new. There’s no life force in that.
I’m inviting you to stand in what you love, what’s true for you, and what you want to bring into the world because there’s nobody else on the planet that’s you, that has your life experiences, that has your worldview that’s been through what you’ve been through. All that stuff can shape your music, work, and interaction with other people, and we need that. The world needs who you are. I want you to be yourself, wart, sparkles, and all.”
You can find Lisa Robbin Young’s books, The Secret Watch and Creative Freedom on Amazon. You can check her out at LisaRobbinYoung.com.