If you think that making money by treating music as a business is ‘wrong’ and ‘offensive’, then save yourself the frustration and skip this article.
If you have not left after reading that first sentence…great. In this article, I am going to help you identify various ways that you can achieve financial success in your music career. After following the advice of this article, you will have a head start on the majority of other musicians out there who do not know how to make a good living in the music business.
In reality, making A LOT of money in the music business is not as hard as it might seem (and is NOT something reserved for rock stars only), however, if you want to achieve this for yourself you will need to think with an alternate mindset than most musicians.
The reason why so many musicians do not make much money with music is because they are not aware that music is a business (and needs to be treated as such). These people fail because they are not mentally ready to achieve great things in the music industry. Find out how ready you are to achieve success in music by taking this short assessment on preparing for a career in music. Important: Finish this assessment first, before reading the rest of this article.
Besides not being prepared to achieve success in the business side of music, many musicians fail to make a decent income in their careers because they make the following mistakes:
Not Establishing Multiple Sources Of Music Related Income
Almost all musicians enter into the music business with the same mindset they have used while looking for a regular job. This means they only expect to make a single source of income from touring or releasing music albums.
Of course, there is nothing wrong with this approach to making money. However, relying “only” on these avenues is very limiting and makes it difficult to continually make a comfortable living as a musician. Fortunately, it is quite simple to create many different sources of income for yourself that add up to give you a very stable and sustainable career in the music business. No matter what your main goal is in the music industry, whether it be touring in a band, selling albums, producing records, etc…you will need to have various sources that are bringing in money for you in both passive and active ways. By having multiple sources of income, you will gain a lot of security and won’t need to rely on a single income stream to make a living.
Not Working To Continually Add Value To Others In The Music Business
There is one very important concept to understand if you are going to pursue a career in music. Whether you are a touring musician, music teacher, producer, session player, songwriter, or are involved in any other occupation, the people who will pay you money to work with you will need to have a reason to pick you from the thousands of other musicians following the same path. At first, this may seem pretty hopeless, but in reality the amount of competition you face is not a major factor. Why is this? Fact is, most musicians are too busy focusing on their musical skills while not focusing on building as much “value” around themselves as possible. Your musical skills (no matter how great they may be) are only ONE element of “value”. The other elements (that most musicians do not focus on) include your work ethic, temperament, business savvy and reliability just to name a few. To make yourself the absolute best choice to work together with a music company, you must work to build up a massive amount of value so that any of the musicians competing against you will pale in comparison. This means that when a music company considers working with you, it must be OBVIOUS that there is no other choice.
Right now you may be thinking that this is a simple concept to understand (and you are right!). However, in spite of this, the overwhelming majority of musicians do not take action to do this in their music careers on a daily basis. To see if you are taking the proper amount of action in this area of your music career, fill out this quick music business survey about music career value. As long as you have the ability to continually add high amounts of value for anyone in the music business, you will have great potential to make a lot of money. It is for this reason that I train all of the musicians in my music industry mentoring program to develop a mindset for adding value within everything they do.
Not Properly Identifying Who You Are Marketing To
After you understand the value you are ready to offer in the music business, you must know WHO you are going to give it to. For instance, if you are ready to put out your new album, or create a new instructional service or product on your website, who are the people that are going to purchase it? Do you have a way to get in touch with these people? If not, what steps are you taking now to build a database of your fans/customers? If your goal is to work as a session musician, have you already spent time to write down all the musicians, studios, and bands that might be looking for someone to work with? What are you going to do today to get the attention of your potential customers?
If you are at all like the majority of musicians, you likely have not invested much time into determining who your market is. As a result, here is what is likely to happen: you spend a lot of time and energy to create music or instructional products, but don’t make much money from your musical efforts since you don’t already have a database of customers who are willing to buy what you have to offer.
Since this is such a major factor for success in music business careers, I spend a great deal of time showing musicians in my music business mentoring program how to build a database and use it to make a good living in music.
You might believe that being signed with a music company means that you do not need to work to promote yourself, build a list of fans, or find ways to earn money. However, in reality these companies are not responsible for your music career, and will not do this for you. The key to achieving success and earning a lot of money in the music industry is for YOU to take action and build your database. This way all your customers/fans are controlled by you.
Not Knowing Your Goals And Not Having A Plan To Reach Them
To earn more money in your music career, you must set specific goals and have a strategy in place for reaching them. Don’t simply have vague ideas of wanting to be a professional musician. Instead, you must focus on what you want out of music. To get started, answer the questions below:
Once you have answered each of the questions above, you must make every step in your music career go toward the specific goals you have determined for yourself.
The majority of musicians struggle to identify exactly ‘what’ they must do to get their desired results in the music industry. Additionally, once they know ‘what’ to do, they struggle to understand ‘how’ to use this knowledge effectively. If you are in this same situation, the best action that you can take is to find a great mentor who can train you to achieve success in your music career and make a lot of money in the music industry. By doing this, you will avoid wasting your time and effort on the same frustrating mistakes that other musicians make.
Thinking That Popularity = Making A Lot Of Money In The Music Industry
Fact is, the majority of musicians who are ‘making it’ in the music industry are NOT rock stars. Being part of a popular band does not mean that you will be earning a great living. The truth is that some musicians (who are very popular) still work side jobs just to get by. By understanding this, you will be able to push ‘fame’ aside in order to focus on the most effective ways to work toward your goal of making a good living in music. Of course it is possible to both be famous AND make a lot of money in the music industry, however it is most important at this point to focus your efforts on the appropriate aspects of your goal.
There are many musicians who view the music business as ‘deceptive’ or ‘wrong’ because it involves making money from one’s passion rather than giving it away for free. These people likely spend their time focusing on songwriting skills or improving their abilities on their instrument. Although these are important things to work on, it is also critical to focus on improving your ‘music business skills’ if you want to earn enough money from music without needing a day job just to get by.
Even though there is no way to predict (in a single article) the specific path you must take to make a great living in the music industry, if you avoid the mistakes mentioned here you will be much more likely to achieve financial freedom in your music career. The good news is that when you do start making a stable living as a professional musician, you will be able to spend more time on that which drew you to the music industry in the first place: making music.
About The Author:
Tom Hess is a successful professional guitar player, composer and the guitarist of the band Rhapsody Of Fire. He also trains musicians to reach their guitar playing goals in his rock guitar lessons online. Visit his website, tomhess.net to read more articles about guitar playing, get free guitar tips and guitar playing resources.