Following the Beat of Your Own Drum with Blayne Chastain
Ever wonder what an Irish flute player’s life looks like? Blayne Chastain is a stellar example of someone in the music world, and the business world.
Graduating from Berklee College of Music with a bachelor’s in Music Business, then a master’s in traditional Irish music performance from the University of Limerick in Ireland, Blayne has made it his life’s goal to tell musicians of their value.
THE BUSINESS BEHIND THE MUSIC
As a musician, licensing plays a big part in how you earn income.
Mechanical royalties: physical product sold, which includes Apple downloads. This is a set rate of pay.
Performing royalties: via BMI or ASCAP, this is a blanket fee given to performers.
Sync licensing: pay received from your music being used in commercials or films. This rate is negotiable and is the most lucrative for musicians at the moment.
Blayne’s advice for the technicalities of fees and licensing? Don’t get stumped by it. You figure it out over time. There are distribution services available to help that are inexpensive, such as CD Baby, Musicbed, or Artlist.
KNOW YOUR VALUE
After spending time working with an independent performer in Nashville, TN for two years, Blayne discovered the importance of researching how much to charge for gigs. If you don’t know, ask! Peers within our space are the biggest resource.
“AS ARTISTS, WE TEND TO UNDERVALUE WHAT WE DO.”
Ask yourself: What is your time worth? Having a predetermined pay rate and a list of terms for your contractor, saying no to gigs asking below your desired price becomes easier. Remember, there is opportunity cost in saying yes to gigs that are paying less for your value (i.e., family time, better gigs).
In the wake of COVID-19, Blayne says that working as a musician in the remote-gig economy has taught him the value of online teaching courses. Knowing how to put yourself out there is tough, but with online teaching, you are able to influence more people, grow a wider listener base, and improve as a performer.
He gives advice to new musicians, stating that the “transition period” of taking low-paying gigs is sometimes necessary. But taking on a day job instead helps stay true to the value you’re representing. Never settle for less!
“AS AN ARTIST, YOU HAVE TO NOT JUST THINK ABOUT YOURSELF, BUT THE ENTIRE ‘OCEAN’--THE ENVIRONMENT AND PEOPLE YOU WORK WITH.”
As an entrepreneur, Blayne created the Whistle and Drum store, selling and valuing living and antique instruments. It led to him creating his own Irish Flute store, bringing together the chasm of creativity and business.
Blayne agrees that the balance between art and business is a struggle, but to remedy that, he knows his limits. He sets aside time in the morning to practice, record, and play his instrument, leaving the afternoon to the needed administrative tasks at hand. His tip? Ignore social media while practicing. Shut the phone off. Just enjoy being a musician without the texts, emails, or gigs.
Blayne Chastain has changed the Irish flute world and given us a glimpse at the joys amidst struggles in the musical realm. You can check out his work or schedule a course with him at https://www.irishflutestore.com/
The full interview with Blayne Chastain is below!