Becoming the Patron of Your Art with Cathy Heller

There was a time when artists were commissioned to create for royalty and other wealthy patrons. While it isn’t widely done today, there is a way for you to become the patron of your own art and our guest will tell us how she did it.

Becoming the Patron of Your Art with Cathy Heller

Cathy Heller is a musician, podcaster, entrepreneur and deep soul. In her own words, she helps people do the things they are called to do in a way that no one else can do them. And she does this in a variety of ways including her podcast, online courses, and an upcoming book.

Having always been a creative person, today she also uses her talents to write, sing and license songs for clients like McDonald’s, Wal-Mart and kid shows like Llama Llama Red Pajama.

But Cathy took a circuitous path to get to where she is now. Twelve years ago she moved out to Los Angeles like so many other aspiring creatives: with $500 in her pocket and a lot of dreams! She worked incredibly hard to get a record deal, and then she got dropped. She got another deal and got dropped again.

Changing tacks, Cathy looked into a “regular” day job working at a non-profit and then at UCLA to teach mindfulness to kids. Then a friend hooked her up with a job in real estate, which she did for a couple of years only to find she was utterly miserable.

Realizing there must be another way for her to use her talent, Cathy began exploring other possibilities. Soon after, she read an article about how indie artists were licensing their songs to different TV shows and commercials, and she decided to try it.

Cathy reverse engineered the process and it didn’t take long for success to follow. Ever since she’s licensed anywhere from 20 to 40 songs a year, and earning $200K-$300K in the process.

Success came as a result of taking great care and paying attention to what her clients wanted, and that authenticity delivered. Along the way, Cathy got noticed and was featured in global magazines like Variety, Billboard and USA Today. She began teaching other songwriters how to replicate her results through online courses and her podcast.

Cathy and I talk about each of these subjects, plus the importance of grit and why clarity follows action on this episode of The Portfolio Life.

Listen to the podcast

To listen to the show, click the player below (If you’re reading this via email, please click here).

Show highlights

In this episode, Cathy and I explore:

  • Why she felt invisible and how she works to eliminate that for others.
  • Why there’s a big difference between a hobby and a business.
  • Are we all in search of purpose and contribution?
  • Why you should be stubborn on vision and flexible on the details.
  • How do you know if you have tried enough to know where you truly shine?

What you seek is seeking you.

Cathy Heller

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How to license your art

  • What kind of market research do you need to do, and how do you do it?
  • What is radical empathy and what does it have to do with marketing?
  • What was the first song she wrote to license?
  • What are ways to build a real connection to the people you are pitching?
  • How can you solve other people’s problems with your art?

Have the courage to make a lot of mediocre things so you can get great at your art.

Cathy Heller

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Making a living versus selling out

  • How to get rid of the “victimhood” mentality of being an artist.
  • Why will listening to your gut tell you if you cross the line?
  • How does she know when something isn’t working?
  • What is one of the biggest issues with being an artist?
  • How to know when to keep going and when to go down a new path.


What new approach will you take to becoming the patron of your art today? Let us know in the comments.