Artist & Entrepreneur: Being a 21st Century Musician

We are singers Natalia Tsvi and Gilad Paz, and together we are VOCE NOVA, a crossover music duo specializing in combining the luxury of classical music with the excitement of rock and pop music. Seen around the globe on America’s Got Talent, we put a new twist on your favorite songs, with brand new arrangements and exciting original mashups that seamlessly weave classical instrumentation and a modern sound into a dynamic, high energy performance that can be customized to fit any event!

That, dear fellow artist, is our elevator pitch. Why did we decide to open with our elevator pitch? Because being a musician in 2023 also means being an entrepreneur and treating your music like a business.

You know how it is. As musicians, there are so many voices telling us that if we think about making money from music (read: think about it as a business) we’re “sellouts” or “aren’t passionate” about our art. They tell you that if you don’t do music 100% of the time you’re “not a musician,” or a slew of other tropes about the bohemian lifestyle that have been perpetuated by pop culture for at least 170 years. “Scènes de la vie de bohème,”on which Puccini’s famous opera “La bohème” is based, was published in 1851, folks!

Yes, there was a brief period of time when artists could (kind of) afford to live in cities like Paris and New York, while solely pursuing their art and barely making any money. But then again, for centuries, the most prominent musicians, like Mozart and Bach, were supported by royalty or by the church, and more recently by wealthy patrons who took musicians under their financial wing.

But those days are gone, and in today’s economic climate, musicians have to be resourceful, innovative, and business-oriented to create a performing life.

Neither of us was ever drawn to the romanticized life of a starving artist. This applies, first and foremost, to the way we approach our music business. While many musicians first create a show and then try to figure out how to sell it to an audience, when we started working on VOCE NOVA we actually used a “reverse engineering” tactic to figure out what kind of act we wanted to create. First, we thought about what we bring to the table that’s unique and sets us apart from other acts and musicians, which for us, was our ability to sing both classical and pop repertoire in a way that’s authentic to the styles of the genres. Then, we envisioned our goals for this act, and actually talked about the annual income we were hoping to earn from our performances.

The next step was to figure out what kind of audience would be able to pay the kind of prices we wanted to charge for our shows. All signs pointed to corporate events and a high-end clientele, so we did the research and came up with a catalog of songs that we were excited about (which would also appeal to that audience) and started building the show while utilizing all of this information. Since officially launching the act in April of 2019, we have performed in various settings, from corporate events to yacht & charter shows to weddings, and even got featured on America’s Got Talent season 15 with our rendition of Verdi’ “Libiamo” with a Moroccan dance beat.

While the performing life is what we love most, it doesn’t always pay the bills, and this is where the entrepreneurial aspect of being 21st century musicians comes in. In addition to being performers, we have also both created our own businesses that happen to be music-related, and that help us bring in more income to support ourselves and our performing careers. Natalia created a holistic vocal coaching studio, where she helps singers find their true, authentic voices for years to come. She is also a certified success coach and hypnotherapist, and she integrates these skills into her work with her clients. Gilad is a certified mindset & business coach and consultant, and the founder and CEO of The Marketable Musician, where he helps musicians create the artistically fulfilling lives of their dreams. The pillars of his coaching philosophy are “Fearless Performance, Financial Empowerment, and Artistic Freedom.”

Remember those voices we mentioned earlier? The ones that try to undermine you as a musician if you don’t prescribe to that starving artist lifestyle? You have full permission to put them on “mute” and never listen to them ever again! We’re here to tell you that in no way do we ever feel like our work outside the stage has come at the expense of our performance careers. Even more to the point, helping other artists through businesses that contribute to our financial stability has given us the ability to invest back in our music business in ways that would not have been possible with performance income alone, at least at this point in our careers.

The notion of what the life of a musician looks like changes with the times, and as a musician living in the 21st century, you have the power and the freedom to create the kind of life you want for yourself. You don’t need to apologize for wanting to live comfortably, or for making money from your music and from other sources, or for creating an artistic career that is sustainable and healthy. We urge you to follow your own path with no reservations, to live the kind of life that will make you happy every day, and to pursue success in the music world from the powerful position of being a musician and entrepreneur in 2022.

–– Natalia Tsvi and Gilad Paz