What It Really Takes To Succeed In The Music Business

How To Succeed In The Music BusinessThis article aims to inform musicians how to succeed in the music business. A lot of bad and outdated advice is shared on the web, much of which leads to musicians wasting valuable time, money and effort. Many people have fallen into the trap of following bad advice, only to reflect a number of months down the line and realise their music career hasn’t progressed very much at all. Due of this, it’s become a widely accepted theory that you can’t make money from your music. This however couldn’t be further from the truth, as we hope to show you today.

Today we aim to debunk this myth, and show you what is really needed to get where you want in the music industry. If you aren’t willing to adjust your thinking and invest both time and money in your independent music career, I suggest you stop reading now. If you’re ready to turn your music into a business however, read on, and make sure you don’t miss a single word.

Below are four key things you need to do in order to be successful, so take them on board and start doing what is necessary.

1. Realise The Music Business Is A Job

The first thing we need to do is get our mentality right. If we fail to do this, we’re already limiting ourself to being one of those people that never quite make it at anything. Too many people want to do well in music and in their other life aspirations, but never really put in the effort to make it happen. In other words, they fail to take action!

So this is the first thing I want to encourage you to do, take action in your music career. Don’t just sit around in your house listening to other people’s CDs and wishing that was you, use that time to write lyrics or promote your music in some way. Don’t complain about other people succeeding and you’re not really getting anywhere, work out what’s getting them to the top and apply the same to your music career. It’s no good simply ‘wanting’ to do well in music, you got to put the work in to succeed!

2. Focus On The Things That Make Musicians Money

Too often I see musicians wanting to succeed, but not knowing how to go about it. They put long hours into their music career, only to find they’re still haven’t progressed in the next six or so months. They may have released a new CD or got a few extra spins by a DJ, but most likely they aren’t really any closer to fulfilling their dream of earning a living from their music career.

The thing is, if you want to make money in the independent music business, you need to focus on the right things. Too many people spend all day adding people on social networks thinking this will help them. While social media is a useful tool for any musician, it should only play a bit part of your promotional efforts. You should focus on the 80/20 rule, a rule that states your should spend the majority of your time on the 20% of things that give you 80% of the results.

So instead of sitting at your computer all day adding people one by one, wouldn’t you rather do something that will mean that a bunch of targeted fans come to your page and add you? The people on your Facebook and Twitter pages will be a lot more genuine and interactive for starters, and you will gain a lot more exposure in the long run.

So what are these things that will make you the most money from your music career? Well, in this article I’ve identified three main ways to earn money from your music career. Doing these things will be the best use of your time, and help your music progress a lot faster. So check out these music strategies and start focusing on the things that will push your music career the most.

3. Invest In Your Music Career

One of the biggest ways to fail as a musician is to not invest in your music career. While it may be hard when you’re of a young age, you will soon realise that it takes time or money to make money. When doing a job, you’re investing time in exchange for a pay packet. When investing in stocks and shares, you’re investing money to make even more money back. In music however, you need to invest both time and money to be a success.

So what sort of things do you need to invest in to make your music successful? Well, in no particular order:

    • Studio Time.
      If you want to have some recorded songs to show off, you need to invest in studio time. I’d advise you not to use a low quality studio, as while you may initially save some money, your recordings will come out a poor quality and not give off an accurate representation of your potential. I also wouldn’t recommend using a high end studio if you make independent music, as you can get good mid range studios for a decent price.
      Always make sure you use a good quality studio, but don’t over spend. If you need help finding a local studio, ask fellow musicians what studio they use and the price. You should be able to get some good suggestions like this.
    • Your Own Website.
      Having your own website is essential if you want to differentiate yourself from the thousands upon thousands of ‘wanna be’ musicians out there. Not only that, but if gives your fans a good place to keep up with your music and connect with you. If you haven’t got a website yet, check our guide on how to build your own music website. Just make sure you add a mailing list on your website as this will turn out to be one of the biggest assets in your independent music career.
    • Music Distribution.
      If you want to get your music out there, it’s important to get good music distribution. Going to a few local shops yourself and asking for a sale or return deal is not enough if you want people too see and recognise your brand, you need to get your music on iTunes and other popular music websites. This can be done via distributors such as SongCast, who while are free to sign up to, charge a small amount to get your songs on iTunes, Napster, Amazon MP3 and more. You also need to get them in shops worldwide if you press up a physical copy of your music, and ‘real world’ distributors also charge for their service. Some charge a price up front, while others take a percentage of what they get into shops for you. This is often a lot more then what digital distributors such as SongCast would charge, so choose wisely when deciding on how to distribute your music. Some people choose to use both avenues available to them, a good strategy if you ask me.
  • Music Promotion.
    It surprises me at the amount of people who release a CD or digital download, but fail to invest money into promoting it. Your promotional efforts can make or break your release, and if you don’t partake in any promotion your release is as good as a dud.
    I can understand that you want to keep costs down when releasing your first CD or digital download, but if you want people to buy it they need to know about it. And if you don’t run a promotional campaign then no one will know about it.
    Once again it’s all about investing money to make money. You need to advertise your releases if you want to make it past giving out free downloads forever, so get rid of the ‘no spending’ mentality and instead spend wisely. We talk about this more in our free ebook ‘Why Your New Release Is Destined To Flop (And How To Change That)’, so check our free music ebooks page to download that now.
  • And more.
    There are other things you should invest in to progress in your music career, but these are the basics. I’m not encouraging your to spend all willy nilly, but if you don’t invest into at least the basics, don’t expect to make much (If any) money back at all.

4. How To Succeed In The Music Business: Increase Your Confidence

The final thing I want to talk about is increasing your confidence. At times, there may be things in your music career you may not want to do. You may be too shy to do them, or you may not have done them before so you’re unsure on how to go about it. So what should you do? Simple, learn how to do it and get on with it!

There are two things that many musicians have problems with:

  1. Performing live shows, and
  2. Selling to people.

These are two of the most important things you need to survive in the music business, so if you want to push your career as far as you can, you need to get over your fears.

The Fear Of Performing Live Shows.
A lot of people get nervous about getting on stage in front of a large audience. Their mouth goes dry, ‘butterflies’ start to enter their bellies, and they start having a nervous break down. This is understandable, as not everyone is a natural performer. But think about it, have you ever seen a big musician that doesn’t do live shows?

The good thing is, performing live shows is something that can be learned, and a fear that can be conquered over time. I’ve actually written a post about how to overcome gig nerves, so if this is something you suffer from then have a look.

Live shows are one on the best ways to make money for the modern independent musician, so make sure it’s something you tackle head on!

The Fear Of Selling To People.
Another common fear people have is selling to people. They feel bad to go up to them and ask them to buy their music, but why would you? Is you music not worth people paying money for? If it is, you shouldn’t feel bad to do this. If it isn’t, you may as well stop making music right now.

Now of course, you’re not going to want to sell to random people on the street. But if you’ve just finished performing at a showcase, there’s no reason you shouldn’t go up to the audience after and ask if they want to buy your CD. They’re heard you perform, so they’re now in a position to make an informed decision about whether or not they want it. Either they say yes and you’ve made some money, or they say no and you move on to the next person.

Doing this one extra selling technique can mean a lot of extra money every year, especially if you do a lot of shows. Doing this should mean that your show expenses are more then paid for, and often you’ll end up in nice profit.

How To Succeed In The Music Business Conclusion

A lot of people do music, but not everyone has the music business knowledge to take them as far as they wish to go. I hope the points raised in this article give you something to think about, and help get your music career heading in the right direction. If you want a new age music strategy that works, check out our book that teaches you how to make money from free music. Like the idea of letting your fans download your music for free but getting paid every time they do? Then this is a strategy you definitely need to read.

Please leave any thoughts you have in the comments below. Is this how to succeed in the music business?

6 thoughts on “What It Really Takes To Succeed In The Music Business”

  1. Thank for the advice. Everyone wants to be a star but are they willing to pay the price for it?

  2. Ryan, in reality most aren’t. That’s good news for those willing to put the work in though!

  3. Hi Im a UK based guitarist and keyboardist thats been playing for 15 years .I’ve read everything you said in this article and have been trying to make it in my current band for 9 years, have done alot of things like major festivals and tours , including Europe the US and SXSW , released an album that didnt sell that well because it giot passed over at radio so feeling really depressed about it all , we are still not earning any real money from it. Im feeling burnt out from pouring all this effort into something that I cant make a living from and Im thinking about becoming a composer for film and TV as this is something that interests me too. Should I give up and follow something that I can make a living from ?

    many thanks

  4. Wow, I’m sorry to hear that Music Man. The truth is, while there are things you can do to increase your chances of success, getting to that level is not guaranteed. It will happen for some people, but for others it won’t.

    With regards to whether or not you should quit, that’s really up to you. It sounds like you’ve become demotivated with music, maybe you should take a few months out and see how you feel? Chances are you’ll enjoy it again once you’ve had a break from the scene.

    Have a look at some of the articles and guides on this site, and hopefully they’ll help you formulate a new way to generate revenue from your music career. As you mentioned it can be difficult to get on mainstream radio, but there are a lot of other good alternatives that do give good results.

    Whatever you decide, all the best.

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