“I wanted the challenge of building something where I couldn’t rely on anyone but myself.”

Image of Neil Mason
From Musician to Artist Development

Having spent his working life in the same industry, Neil Mason was ready to share his experiences and knowledge in a new way. Here's how he brought a wave of fresh energy and fulfilment into his career, along with the lessons he's learned along the way.  

What work were you doing previously?

I was in the music industry, for the first twenty years primarily as a drummer.

What are you doing now?

While I'm still actively touring with my band The Cadillac Three, for the past five years I have additionally been managing artists (Badlands Management) as well as running an independent record label (Badlands Records). 

Most recently I launched a website dedicated to artist development. It's an off-shoot of the management and label work I’ve been doing, where I provide tools and insights to up-and-coming artists and artist teams. 

Why did you change?

I would say I’ve expanded.  

Having been in the music industry for over twenty five years, I felt that offering my 'lessons learned' and strategies for navigating the industry was something that could be beneficial to anyone still trying to find their path.  

When was the moment you decided to make the change?

I began building Artist Development this summer in my downtime on tour. 

It was something I felt compelled to do because of the number of artists looking for help navigating their challenges in the music industry. 

How did you choose your new career?

I’ve been fortunate to have made a living in the music business throughout my worklife and with that have had a lot of experiences.  

It made sense to find another outlet to share that experience and knowledge to hopefully help others get where they want to go in as straight a path as possible. 

Are you happy with the change?

Yes. 

It’s opened a lot of new relationships, and provided interesting opportunities to be helpful to others and to learn.

What do you miss and what don't you miss?

I’m fortunate to still be doing what I’ve always loved, which is playing music. 

But I'm now also able to apply the things I’ve learned over the years to other career strands. It's a wonderful addition. I feel very lucky. 

How did you go about making the shift?

A lot of coffee and journaling. 

I built the site myself. I'd built some websites in the past, but every time feels like a new adventure to get it to look and feel like I imagine. This one was no different in that respect.

Anything that can be automated, I automate. Otherwise, I build a system for staying organized.

My marketing strategy has been focused on LinkedIn so far, posting twice daily on artist development in the music industry. People message me from seeing these posts, and I'll schedule a short video call with them discuss what we are both up to and use those for discovery for building products and offerings.

How did you develop (or transfer) the skills you needed for your new role?

A big part of why I chose to build this was because they were skills I already have.

I wanted to find another outlet for those skills.

I've managed artists for the past five years, which is essentially coaching and mentoring. Artist Development is a way to help others like I do with management clients, but on a need-by-need basis.

How did you handle your finances to make your shift possible?

I have a few revenue streams for income.

I was able to build Artist Development on top of those. 

What was the most difficult thing about changing?

Adding another thing to my weekly workflow. 

It has forced me to be more organised with my time. I have to be my own motivator, my own critic and my own boss. 

It’s been a lot to learn. 

What help did you get?

I’ve built this on my own.

That was intentional because everything else in my life has partners involved.  I wanted the challenge of building something where I couldn’t rely on anyone but myself. 

What would you advise others to do in the same situation?

Start, build.

Make mistakes and learn from them. Then keep building. 

To find out more about Neil's services, visit www.artistdevelopment.net 

Plus, if you know someone who's made a successful shift into work they love, we'd love to hear from you. Drop us a line at [email protected]ifters.org. and you could win a £25 / $35 voucher in our monthly draw.