music careers

The Pro Musician Game: My Daring Journey

At some point we all ask, “How do I turn what I love into my career?” That’s when we discover what risks we’re willing to take.   I’ve been playing drums for over 27 years. For a long time I knew I wanted to turn pro. I didn’t have too many […]

The Road to Turning Pro

Turning Pro w/ David Borenstein in 004 RMP

How to Become a Successful Professional Artist/Musician – 004 RMP

Are you being true to yourself with your art?

Have you defined whether you’re a hobbyist or a professional?

How can striving for security negatively affect your work and your life?

And, how does sacrificing your art for money affect you in the long run?

Turning Pro w/ David Borenstein in 004 RMP

Turning Pro w/ David Borenstein in 004 RMP

Today, I chat with painter, David Borenstein.  He is a prolific fine artist and has been a professional painter for over 50 years! He has copied over 90 oil paintings directly from the Great Masters, and has original paintings in major galleries all over the world.

Let’s listen, as David shares how his obsession to paint allows him to travel the world, live like a gypsy, and make his art his business.

In this episode, David shows us some key points to being the artist you want to be:

Look for ways to earn using your unique skills.
Balance the commercial and the creative.
Study the masters.
Teach better students.
Work towards a bigger purpose.


Here are some insights to today’s talk with David Borenstein.

Look for ways to earn an income using your unique skills as an artist, even if it’s small. David was drawing people on the street for the train ride home. You could busk with your buddies, take on students, or record other people’s music as a side man.

You don’t have to wait to make it big to be a musician or an artist. Sometimes, you have to take on other jobs to survive. And, that’s ok. But, if being an artist is your chosen purpose in life, you have to integrate supporting yourself and staying true to your art.

David talks about balancing the commercial and the creative. You have to eat but, it’s also your duty to create great art. If, we aren’t pure in even the more commercial aspects of our music, then people lose trust in us as artists.  Think about other artists who seem to only care about the money.  Compare them to those whose songs or paintings stay with you for a lifetime. If you give of yourself fully, even in a commercial setting, the money will follow.

David reminds us to study the masters. Learning what great artists have done before not only teaches better techniques, but allows us to create from an inspired place. Legendary drummer, Tony Williams, once said that learning exactly what drummers played on their albums allowed him to play what they didn’t, thus developing his own sound and a new approach to the instrument.

If you have students, teach better ones. Look for ways to share your knowledge at a higher level. It’s easy to stay with beginners because we have the material down. Plus, there will always be new ones. But, that’s a surefire way to stagnate.

Do you have a student that is moving into intermediate level playing? Bring them in to teach some beginners with you. Create an apprentice relationship. Give them a discount on their lessons or split the earnings from the students they teach.  It will re-enforce the apprentice’s knowledge, allow you to add more students, make time to focus on higher level students, increase cash flow, and build recognition for yourself.

Teaching at a higher level will also improve your own abilities and inspire you to create better music.

One last thing David mentions, is to

. His goal is to open a fine arts academy overseas, where he will paint masterpieces and take on higher level students. The galleries, the students and the portraits, all are in line to get him closer to that dream.

My dream, is to create a business around helping musicians achieve their dreams. This podcast, seminars and workshops, even someday opening a professional music academy are ways for me to achieve that goal. My personal practice, performing and teaching are tools for me to give better content and art to the world.

How are the activities you’re pursuing helping you achieve your goals and get you closer to that dream?