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Blog // Thoughts
February 6, 2014

On Not Having A Business Plan

There is a great interview on YouTube with jazz guitarist John Scofield, conducted by Jan Bertil Pool of the PoolGuitarBlog. The video quality is not great, but it’s worth persisting nonetheless if you are interesting in hearing how a leading jazz musician, who is constantly touring and recording, approaches his work. On fascinating moment is […]

There is a great interview on YouTube with jazz guitarist John Scofield, conducted by Jan Bertil Pool of the PoolGuitarBlog. The video quality is not great, but it’s worth persisting nonetheless if you are interesting in hearing how a leading jazz musician, who is constantly touring and recording, approaches his work.

On fascinating moment is when John Scofield, after talking about being constantly employed and regularly launching new projects and collaborations talks about the business side of his work. I’ve embedded the video below and if you are short on time, forward to 7:24, when Jan asked John wether he has a marketing plan.

“There’s not really a marketing strategy, at all.
John Scofield”

Scofield doesn’t say marketing is irrelevant, when a project is good and connects with audiences he believes it marketing it. And, he certainly places importance in having the business side of things well managed and organised.

What he does make clear is the importance of putting the art first, then figuring out if and how it connects with audiences. He also makes clear how the obsession with business plans and marketing in this DIY age can take the focus off the art.

I know it has for me, over and over, in recent years.

I’m not saying plans don’t matter, they do. Projects need plans. Finishing what you want to achieve today or this week requires a plan. By all means, work out the steps you need to take, figure out what you need, then give yourself a schedule to complete it.

But, the business plan kind of stuff, the “I’ll grow my business by 11.3% this quarter and optimise my marketing by…” stuff makes an awful lot less sense for a small or solo creative operation than it does for big corporate businesses. And, it can twist people out of shape, disconnect them from their art (or at least their authentic voice) and turn them into a clone of everyone else out there in the snowstorm of content-creation.

I see it all the time and I’m sure you do too.

Ask yourself honestly, how much of your business planning really feels like wishing and dreaming? How much does your situation really feel like just making the most of the opportunities you get and delivering on the ideas you have?

For me, it’s a clear yes and yes to all those questions.

There’s a lot to be said for just having an idea and doing it. If it gets traction then great, start thinking about marketing. If it doesn’t just enjoy it anyway and move onto the next project and keep creating.

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