Why Playing the Guitar Makes Me a Better Businessman

Smart businessman playing the guitar on stage
Photo by Alex Grant (alextakesphotos)

I’ll bet that got your attention didn’t it? Guitarists are not generally known for their business acumen, right? No, mostly we hear about them throwing TV sets off hotel balconies or trashing their rooms for fun.

Well, it may surprise you to discover that many famous guitarists are actually very astute in the field of business and I can offer some reasons why this might be the case. All in the name of fun you understand, none of this is scientific fact, I just thought I’d lighten things up a little with a change of pace on the blog. And, by the way, if you actually fancy taking up the guitar, I’ve added a bit more info elsewhere on the site to give you my recommendation on how best to learn guitar.

Guitarists are Typically Better Educated

In my experience, guitarists tend to be better educated than their fellow band members, certainly better than the drummers I’ve played with, that’s for sure!

Let’s take Brian May as an example here. Brian is the guitarist with Queen, one of the most successful rock bands of all time. He may have gone a bit soft in recent years and become more interested in saving badgers and foxes than making fans’ ears bleed with the sheer awesomeness of his guitar playing, but he deserves his place in the rock and roll hall of fame, no doubt about it.

So it may surprise you to learn that he is in fact an astrophysicist with a PhD from Imperial College? Well, you shouldn’t be surprised because the study required to excel in the guitar not only exercises the fingers, but also the brain.

The possibilities on the guitar are endless. You have 6 strings, each with up to 24 frets that can be (literally) pressed into action to give a huge number of potential notes, and that’s before you even think about bending the strings to alter the pitch. It takes an able mind to make sense of all those options and mould them into good music.

Guitarists Need a Good Head for Business

This is as true today as it ever was. Without a head for business, you’ll be taken to the cleaners by the record companies, the agents and everyone else who wants to take a cut of your earnings as a musician. With the rise of the internet and the decrease in the reliance of musicians on the record companies to get their music published and distributed, big business is taking a back seat to innovation and the rise of talent over commerce.

A great example of how bands can empower themselves by making radical decisions in how they run their own businesses is Radiohead, who took the decision in 2008 to give away their latest album.

It was a great tactic and operated on the basis of inviting donations from those wanting to download the album. Loyal fans would pay perhaps quite a lot as a way of thanking the band for the music they have enjoyed during the band’s career; others could choose to pay as little as 45 pence, which only just covered the credit card handling fees.

By far the biggest benefit of this tactic, though, was the free publicity that the unusual distribution model generated. That alone would have paid for any loss of revenue suffered because of people downloading after making the minimum donation. Genius!

So, the evidence is clear. Guitarists are better at business…fact!

Why not take up the guitar yourself and see whether the benefits translate into improvements in your own business acumen? I can highly recommend a free website called, Guitar Instructions, where you can find all the information you’ll need to get you started.

Give it a try! You might even enjoy it.

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