4 Lessons From The 4-Hour Work Week Musicians Can Use in Their Business.

In the summer of 2013, I moved to Melbourne. I had just finished my music degree in a small regional centre within Northern NSW. It was my first time living in a major metro area. As could be expected for a small town boy, I had some major emotional, existential and cultural shocks and semi-breakdowns during that summer. But there was something I found that (and I don’t use this term lightly) changed my life. During that time, I came across a book in an Op-shop called the 4-Hour Work Week (4HWW). The 4HWW, written by Tim Ferriss, has been out for 10 years. It is the best business book I’ve ever read. The philosophies and strategies in the book are still relevant 10 years on.


Before you read on, I’m not going to give away any spoilers from the book or infringe on the intellectual property of Tim Ferriss. I urge you to get the book. It will change you.



  1. Define Goals


In my travels, I have read many entrepreneurs, writers and creative people reference an article written called 1000 true fans written by Kevin Kelly.


You can check out the original article here, http://kk.org/thetechnium/1000-true-fans/


In the article, Kelly states that any musician or artist only needs 1000 true fans (superfans) to sustain a decent living, and therefore maintain a career as an artist. The article details, if every fan bought a $100 worth of product from you every year, you’ll maintain a $100,000 a year income. $100,000 is a living for most people. The numbers change according to an individual’s specific circumstances. What is great about this article is that it sets a marketing target.


“If you don’t know where you’re going, any road will get you there” – Lewis Carroll


What I learned reading the 4 HWW, is that your lifestyle and business goals may not require a $100,000 a year price tag. If you are designing your lifestyle and your business – you set the terms and therefore your goals. You don’t know how much that is going to be until you define it. The first thing anyone should do as they establish and grow a music business is to define their target income, and lifestyle goals. Ask yourself, ‘how much do I need to live the lifestyle I want and how much I will need to invest into my business?’ The 4 HWW has some great exercises to help answer that question.


Setting goals isn’t an easy task because each decision comes with a trade-off. Making a choice is choosing to not take other options. But If you don’t make the decision to choose a path and let go of other possibilities, you won’t go anywhere. The Internet is littered with help for this task. I personally keep a goals journal.


Reading the 4 HWW helped me define my goals for my personal life, my creative life and my work.


  1. Outsource and Delegate


Entrepreneurs that take on the world by themselves are going to fail, according to multiple sources I’ve been reading. In the world of psychology, Existentialism is based upon unavoidable, existential ‘truths’. Existentialism states that we live in a world with others, interacting with other people is something we need and cannot avoid. A common ingredient I have found reading music industry and music business articles and books is that forming a team is a must for a successful music entrepreneur. Some sources suggest turning to your inner circle for help. The 4 HWW has a different answer.


Reading the 4 HWW, I learned how to delegate and outsource certain business tasks to a virtual assistant (VA) and other skilled individuals. In the 4 HWW, delegating and outsourcing allows the entrepreneur to enjoy time and mobility at a fraction of the price of traditional team building.


There are so many great online resources for outsourcing; I’m currently experimenting with fivver.com. Outsourcing and delegating certain business tasks is one thing I learned reading the 4HWW that you can use to make conducting business much easier for you.


  1. Automate Systems


A lot of operations within a business occur as a part of a system. Systems that function effectively, allow for seamless operation. Shit systems not so seamless. Systems can range from communicating with an audience to delivering merchandise to managing your website.


Automating system function is the key to scaling a business’s operation. Scaling allows a business to grow, allowing one to achieve the goals set out in lesson 1. Automation is the process of putting system operations on autopilot, so they can occur without individual involvement per execution.


Reading the 4 HWW put me in the mindset of discovering systems (within all areas of my life) and putting as many of them onto autopilot to automate my way to a less labour intensive and more enjoyable life.


  1. Batch Process


For things you can’t automate or outsource, batch processing is the answer. Each task has a setup operation time that is required for the task to commence. Why waste the extra time involved setting up different tasks to complete them in a linear fashion? It is much simpler and more efficient to batch process tasks to eliminate set up time. Batch processing is more than that. It’s a philosophy for avoiding distractions. Each time you are distracted from a task, it tasks a bit of time/energy to get back on track. Batch processing, in my opinion, is about cutting the time fat from each process.


If a band goes into the studio to record after a pre-production phase, it is likely they will record each instrument one by one for all the songs that need to be recorded. This is because of the time it takes to set up the instrument and recording equipment. It would be an immense waste of time to record drums for one song, pack it up, set up guitar, record guitar for that song, etc.


Reading the 4 HWW, I learned that batch processing is about streamlining activities in life to become an efficiency machine.


The 4 HWW work is one of the biggest and most influential business books of the last decade. It is compulsory reading for anyone serious about starting or sustaining a career in the music industry, and for anyone who wants to live the life of their dreams on their own terms.