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CMA Week 5: Manage That Cash Flow

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Cincinnati Music Accelerator logoMost artists end up falling flat and broke because they didn’t manage their funds correctly. The sheer amount of expenses, further compounded by paying your own taxes, can spell an early death – no matter how promising the talent. As class resumed for the 5th week at the CMA, students sat down with Micah Dickson, business accountant at Fifth Third, who showed them the ropes on financing a music career.

Dickson emphasized that students need to make their brand a business – literally, as in registering their name as a business. Most importantly, according to Dickson, is that profit is what attracts investors. That’s the power. If an artist can’t promise X amount of pennies on the dollar, there’s not much of a reason for an investor to look twice. If an artist can’t manage their money near-perfectly, those pennies will come up short.

Cincinnati Music Accelerator
Photo by Simion Collins of RiverSky Films

Students squinted at the whiteboard where Dickson drew out a simplified mapping of how their money should flow. His plan articulated details such as how many accounts you need to open, what percentage of investment dollars go into those accounts and what day of the month students should be shifting a percentage of one account to another. Without a doubt, there were a lot of variables to consider. Questions were rifled off left and right, but after some due diligence, students finally pulled around the bend. Head scratches turned into thoughtful hand raises, broaching context-specific questions. Dickson fielded each scenario, patiently breaking down how the individuals should approach their situation.

Cincinnati Music Accelerator
Photo by Simion Collins of RiverSky Films

CMA is quickly drawing an end to its inaugural class and the graduation night, featuring a performance at Elementz, is right around the corner. A few students recapped their experiences as well as discussed some pre-show jitters.

“As far as my brand, I’ve discovered who I am, who I’m trying to become and how I’m trying to become [that]” said Onyx Johnson. Always passionate about writing and recording, Johnson finally has some business savvy to work with. He expanded on how he’s been able to identify his target market as well, giving direction to his craft. “Then I feel like it’s easier to create songs you’re comfortable with.”

Cincinnati Music Accelerator
Photo by Simion Collins of RiverSky Films

Hiram Yukunoamlak, who’s been in the game for a minute, walked away with an in-depth respite of topics she’s only glossed over in her short time as a musician. While her baseline as far as branding might be a little higher than others, being a “Bad Girl” and all, she’s realized you can’t just appeal to every market.

“Although I know a lot of the stuff, I’m getting between the lines now. I’m getting the details of things that I might have skipped over before.” Hiram explained. She’s dealing with vocal fold issues at the moment and is hoping that doesn’t carry over to the performance, though doesn’t expect it to.