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Level 6

Can You Get Customers By Jamming? You Can When You Are Musician Matt Clackett.

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Matt Clackett is a musician who has worked with some of the world’s biggest artists. Now that he's moved into a music business consulting role, he's utilizing Facebook and LinkedIn to reach a new audience and grow his client base. He talks to us about the importance of having a finely-tuned strategy and why word-of-mouth referrals are golden.


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Name: Matt Clackett

Job: Freelance Session Saxophonist and Music Consultant

Started: 1990


Q: How did you get started as a freelance musician?


A: At 17, I had just relocated to a new city and I searched Time Out magazine to find open jam sessions. I went to as many as I could and played whenever I could. I started seeing the same musicians at different venues and soon I was building a network of contacts, which eventually turned into paid work that took me all over the world.


Q: What has been your biggest challenge when it comes to consistently getting new work?


A: In 2009, I collapsed with peritonitis and needed major surgery, which stopped me from working for a considerable period. I made it through by raiding my savings and diversifying into new areas – songwriting, production and consultancy.


At first, the consultancy jobs found me. I’d built a good reputation over many years and created a successful company within a very challenging market sector that was shrinking for everyone else. There were lots of entrepreneurial bands and musicians wanting advice, so I set about writing structured approaches for them to follow. I was helping them create short, medium and long-term strategies for areas like marketing, gaining fans, creating new products and selling classes. 


Basically, I made it my job to instill standard corporate practices into unstructured but talented people.


Q: What is the #1 way you find new clients for your music consulting business?


A: Word of mouth is the biggest asset for any self-employed professional. I've found that social media really helps experts get the word out about their work in a niche field. I write a blog that I update frequently and I’m always looking to learn and contribute to online forums and networks. It’s the 21st century version of going to jam sessions.


I have large networks on Facebook and LinkedIn, which need to be utilized in different ways. On Facebook, I post interesting articles sparingly. At one stage my wall was being commandeered by bands and musicians eager to promote their events. I’ve restricted that tightly now, so anything I want to post doesn’t get drowned out.


LinkedIn is a great tool for contacting people I’d like to speak to directly. I rarely post articles or comments, although I do read interesting stuff there. I haven’t even scratched the surface of Twitter yet.


Q: How do you charge clients for your time?


A: In general, smaller music jobs already have a budget in mind and bookers tell you up front. If I’m putting together a creative project, like bespoke music for an event or producing an album, I’ll factor in all of the elements with an overall management fee on top. It’s important to implicitly understand the brief and to build in enough contingency to ensure complex projects run smoothly.

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 Q: How do you plan for your business?


A: I write and review my business plan every six months or so to see whether I’m diverging, getting closer to its aims or if I need to find a better avenue to move forward. I find it really helpful. However, it can be hard where there are delays affecting my plan that are beyond my ability to influence. 


Most musicians and music businesses find it hard to project what they'll be doing even next year. This is partly because the marketplace is changing rapidly, even after a decade of technological disruption, but also because of the nature of freelancing. 


I quantify milestones for my business in a number of different ways. They could be, “gain x amount of Twitter followers” or “connect with and meet x number of key influencers” or “build a fan base of x number of people, ask them what they like about your music and what and where they would like you to play next.” Charting these small victories, building on them constantly and having aspirational targets of where the business should be in three years means it's easy to judge what's working and what isn’t.


Q: What would you like to learn from a network of other self-employed professionals and small business owners?


A: At the moment, I’m reading up on venture capital, methods to project sales and growth within very unpredictable (and entirely new) markets, working through licensing contracts for types of digital products that haven’t existed before and even looking at cross-border incorporation with regard to tax and patent law. 


If anyone has any thoughts or advice in these areas, that would be fantastic!

Can you help Matt with learning more about selling digital products? Are you a licensing expert or do you have thoughts on patent laws?

Share what you know right here! 

We can't wait to hear more about what you're learning. :-)

1 Comment 1
Level 7

Can You Get Customers By Jamming? You Can When You Are Musician Matt Clackett.

We'd love to get your thoughts! Are you a licensing expert or do you have thoughts on patent laws?

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