The Artist's MBA (Part 1)
Should a professional or semi-professional artist learn the basics of business?
Short answer: yes.
Being a performing magician for a number of years has taught me two things: card tricks are a great way to get a girl's number, and a professional performing artist should be a lifelong student of business. My first lesson in this was when I received my first check from a gig at the age of 15. With cash in hand, I realized the only way to get more was to learn how to market myself. This sent me on a quest to learn marketing, and ultimately lead to a scholarly career as a marketing major.
I consider myself a small business owner, and I believe every magician, musician, and otherwise performing artist should.
You're a serviced-based business
Just like a landscaper or plumber, your service is your product. People will trade cash for your specific set of skills. This is the fundamental foundation of any economy, and an artist has to take full advantage of it in order to make a living. Marketing your services is very similar to marketing a physical product, and can easily be learned from reading two or three books on the subject from your local library.
Knowing how to handle money helps
By studying business, you learn how to invest money into your business. This is crucially important! All too often I've seen magicians invest in investments that will almost certainly lead to a loss of revenue.
How to learn these skills
If you are currently student, you might consider taking an intro to business class and some finance and economics classes. For everyone else, Barnes and Nobles and your local public library will provide more than enough education. Believe it or not, 90% of the information that you need Is available in easily accessible books and audio books (signing up for audible was one of the best investments I've ever made!).
Just remember to use the knowledge that you learn! Don't be a passive reader and not act upon any of your new found information. You should be testing and experimenting with marketing tricks that you learn.