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TEM Blog

The Entrepreneurial Musician Blog by Andrew Hitz featuring articles on being an entrepreneur in the music business. Show notes for The Entrepreneurial Musician Podcast.

Filtering by Tag: The Portfolio Composer

Article: Dana Fonteneau on why freelancing is not a dirty word

Andrew Hitz

Dana Fonteneau.jpg

Garrett Hope's Porfolio Composer blog featured a guest post by Dana Fonteneau about freelancing which is a really good read.

Dana first talks about what many "real jobs" actually entail above and beyond what we might expect and then eloquently makes the case for being a freelancer and entrepreneur.

"As an entrepreneur, you are your own boss. THERE ARE NO GATE KEEPERS BETWEEN YOU AND YOUR DREAMS.

YES, freelancing can have a lot of instability and volatility at first until you learn how to create systems that create stability and take you out of that “feast or famine” cycle. These are not hard to do but require discipline, focus, and long-term planning. There is NO LIMIT to how much you can do and earn, IT’S UP TO YOU!!!!

It takes a lot of work, but then again, what doesn’t?! If you’re going to be busy and work really hard, you might as well be doing what you LOVE!"

—Dana Fonteneau

You should definitely read the entire article. It is well worth it!

Article: "I Used to Think That Freelancing Was a Dirty Word Until…" by Dana Fonteneau

If you haven't heard it, don't miss the conversation I had with Dana for Episode 85 of TEM.

TEM85: Dana Fonteneau on Figuring out Your "Why", Holding Yourself Accountable When You Work for Yourself and How She Got Her First Paid Clients Before She Had a Proven Track Record

TEM 73: Jessica Meyer on Not Waiting for the Phone to Ring, Becoming a Professional Composer at Age 40 and Writing a Great Grant Proposal

Andrew Hitz

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Jessica Meyer is a violist, composer, entrepreneur and music business consultant based in New York City. I absolutely love her approach to the music business and to life. Quite inspiring!

Topics Covered:

  • Jessica had two degrees from Juilliard, was living in New York and yet her phone wasn't ringing because she was primarily only hanging out with her husband and not intentionally networking
  • How when missing two notes in the 6th round of the Buffalo Philharmonic audition prevented her from winning an $18,000/year job she realized there was a problem with the traditional orchestral model which inspired her and her husband to start their own ensemble
  • The incredible number of things like grant writing, budgeting, making a website, branding and many other things which they had to suddenly learn how to do (and which their top-notch Juilliard educations didn't prepare them for)
  • How running your own ensemble is like owning a house rather than renting (you get to customize anything you want but any repairs or upkeep are your problem)
  • The very large ensemble they hired (at a large expense) which lead to their first New York Times review which in turn has lead to a review every single year
  • How Jessica became a professional composer at the age of 40 (Spoiler: She relied on her pre-existing network that she had intentionally developed)
  • The importance of her being able to stand in front of people and succinctly tell them about her music
  • The key to writing a great grant proposal (It's easier than you think!)
  • Why she starts her networking seminars off by having people figuring out exactly what makes them them
  • Why it's important to practice stating within a conversation what you do in at most two sentences (and why you should have one of these soundbites for each different thing you do)
  • Why you have to be your own advocate for what you do (and why Jessica prefers the term "advocate for yourself" rather than "selling yourself")
  • How even if you have management you need to be out there "shaking the trees"
  • Why it's important that when you find yourself in a serendipitous moment (career-wise) you need to speak up and get the ball rolling
  • Why solving problems for other people or making random introductions for no reason will serve you well in the long run
  • Gary Vaynerchuck's 51/49 Rule
  • How all relationships are feeding your career (which means more than just liking Facebook posts)


Favorite Quotes:

"You have to spend money to make money. That's how it works."

"(Grant writing) is like networking. It's not about you. It's not about how great your art is. It's not about how great you play. It's not about how great this composer is. How are you making the lives better of the people you are serving."

"How can I advocate for myself and my colleagues?"

"You just keep asking. And there'll be a lot of no's. And you just keep asking anyway."

"The people who are successful...are the ones willing to do the mundane things that other people are not."

It would mean the world to me if you felt like making a small donation to support what I'm doing with TEM. You can find out more at:

Produced by Joey Santillo

TEM 59: Garrett Hope of the Portfolio Composer Podcast on the Skills Needed in the Freelance Economy, Thinking About Art as a Business and the Power of Outsourcing

Andrew Hitz

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Garrett Hope is the host of The Portfolio Composer Podcast, a composer, a bass player, owns a piano tuning company and is a consultant.

Note: Since we recorded this interview, Garrett has rebranded his podcast, Composer On Fire, as The Portfolio Composer Podcast.

Topics Covered:

  • How entrepreneurial thinking led him to ultimately choose bass over guitar as his primary instrument
  • The factors that led to him getting turned off by academia which led him to becoming an entrepreneur
  • How starting a piano tuning business made him realize he needed to apply the same entrepreneurial principles to his music career
  • The skills musicians need as the world moves more and more towards a freelance economy (and they don't teach them in music school)
  • The challenge of thinking about art as a business
  • Why it's imperative to identify exactly who your audience is
  • The importance of having a rich network to utilize when trying to serve a specific niche
  • How Garrett came to have world-renowned thought leader Seth Godin as a "guest" on his podcast
  • The audacity of asking
  • The power of asking "And then what?" to get to the bottom of fear
  • The Brand Fascination Assessment Test
  • The power of outsourcing (even though it can be scary to spend money on things)
  • Understanding cash flow as a small business owner and the importance of keeping good records
  • Why we've all networked already on some level
  • How networking is the bread and butter of a musician's life
  • How to create a spreadsheet to get organized about your networking



Favorite Quote:

"In 10 years, more than 50% of the workforce will be freelancers. That's where we're heading and musicians need to be prepared for that."

You can help offset the ongoing costs of producing the show by making a small donation at Your support is greatly appreciated!

Produced by Austin Boyer of FredBrass