Treating Music As A Business

Music as a businessIf you want to succeed in today’s music industry, you need to treat your music as a business. There’s no two ways about it; If you aren’t willing to put in the work to promote and market your music, you may as well give up now. In order to be successful, you need to do what works. And what works right now is getting off your butt and putting the work in to the right places.

In this article we will be looking at the business of music, and why you need to learn this side of things if you want to do well in your music career. Whether you do independent music or you’re signed to a record label, you need to learn what it is that makes people successful, other then their vocals.

Knowledge is power, so read on and see how much of this you can apply to your independent music career today.

Why You Need To Learn The Music Business

So, why do you need to treat music as a business? Simple, because without you carrying out proven marketing and promotion methods for your songs, people won’t even know you exist. And the people who are aware of you, may not take to you as well due to ineffective or inconsistent branding.

Learning the music business involves learning how you promote yourself, how to build connections within the industry, learning various selling tactics, learning how to get gigs, planning out all the steps you need to achieve your goals, and much more. As someone who makes independent music, you haven’t got someone who will do all these things for you. You in effect have to do all the jobs a record label team does on your own.

Why you obviously won’t be able to get the same mass reach as a wealthy record label, it is possible for you to get out there using the right music business strategies.

The bottom line is this: If you learn what business practices work in the music industry and put them into practice, you will greatly increase your chances of doing well with your music. I tell no word of a lie.

Do You Treat Music As A Business?

Ok, so enough about the general advice for everyone who does independent music. Right now, I want you to look at how your music career is going. Ask yourself:

  • Are you simply recording songs and putting them out for free, or are you sticking to a set release and revenue generating plan?
  • Are you doing gigs as and when they come up, or are you actively seeking out new shows to do?
  • Are you sitting at home all day ‘promoting’ your music on social networking websites, or are you working on getting your music mass broadcasted on radio and TV?

If you answered yes to any of the first options, you are not taking your music as a business as much as you could be.

You need to ask yourself how far you want to take your music. If you are simply making music for the fun of it, then carry on doing what you’re doing. It’s a hobby for you, so only make music as and when you want. If however your aim is to make a career from your music, then you need to start re-evaluating how you handle things.

Prove To Record Labels You Treat Music As A Business

Sell your music on itunesIt used to be standard procedure for record labels to handle the business side of the music industry for you. They would pump a lot of time and money into your career, and all you had to do was turn up, look presentable and sing. Things however are changing. Due to there being a lot less money in the music industry, record labels want to see you are capable of being successful as an independent musician before they even consider signing you for a record deal. This means that whether or not you want to get signed, you have a lot of work to do.

While it is still possible to get signed to a record label just based on your talent, you are much more likely to get a record deal (Or is it called a CD deal now?) if you have a proven track record. And guess what? It’s up to you to provide that track record for all to see! That means you need to demonstrate that you can sell units, that you can get gigs to perform at, that you can draw people in to see you perform live, and that you music potentially has mass appeal. You will also need to demonstrate that you have a good core following, and that you can come out with good songs both now and in future. Sound like a lot of work? It is, so you better get started hadn’t ya!

Learn The Music Business

As with anything, in order to succeed in music, you need to put the work in. Not only that however, but you need to put the work in to the right places. It’ll be no good you sitting at home all day adding people on Facebook and Twitter for example. Yes you will have done a lot of work, but you won’t get much reward from it in the end. Instead, it’s all about putting in the time and effort in the areas where you will benefit most from it.

So, where are these areas? While these aren’t the only places you should put your effort, here are some of the key areas:

  • Getting your music and videos played on mass promotion channels (E.G. Radio and TV). This will get your music in front of a large amount of people fairly quickly, rather then reaching each person individually. A lot of musicians attempt to get in front of new fans one by one by adding them on Facebook and Twitter. The problem with this, is not only does it take a long time to do, but you are often contacting people who don’t want to be sold to. If they don’t want to be sold to, then they won’t take notice. If you let people come to you after they have heard your song on radio however, this person is much more likely to become a fan.
  • Capturing you fan’s contact details from any exposure you gain from these mass promotion channels. The best way to do this is to have a opt in box on your website, and collect people’s information for your music mailing list. This will allow you to contact them whenever you want, and if you have a good relationship with them (Or at least don’t annoy them) they may buy your music / show tickets / merchandise etc in future. Your true fans will do a lot of promotion for you, and help get other people interested in your music. Don’t under estimate how important it is to have these dedicated fans in your corner, they will make work a lot easier for you.
  • Getting and performing gigs. Not only will this get your face out there more, but it will generate revenue for you. Even if you’re not getting paid for the show initially, you can still make money from selling your CDs after you have performed. You can also raise a lot of awareness at shows. I’ve written a free guide on how to get gigs, so check it out for more info.

While this is a brief explanation of what you should be doing, this is the core of things that will get you the most results. You will of course need to do other things such as recording new material and communicating with your fans, but you should put a limit on the amount of time you dedicate to these activities. You want new songs yes, but you don’t want to overload your fans with songs. Flooding the market with your music will make your brand appear cheap, and too easily available. When it comes to you putting out new audio, it will be no big deal to people as they get your new stuff all the time. Hold back and only release material every now and then though, and you will give fans time to miss you and crave your next release. This will cause a bigger buzz all round.

While communication with fans is important, you shouldn’t over do it. As a general rule of thumb, communication with a lot of your fans individually is a bad idea. Not only is it a time drain, but you also make yourself seem too available. When people see as much of you as they want, they won’t crave you in the same way anymore. Eventually, they will get bored and move on to the next big thing.

If you make it so you’re communicating with fans on a mass level now and then (Say make a Youtube video for your fans and put it on your website) then people will appreciate this and look forward to your next video or communication. You will also give yourself a bit of mystery, and make people wonder what you have been up to.

Both of these strategies are worth implementing in your music career. Here are some additional music business strategies worth learning, each building on the three areas I’ve mentioned you focus on in this article. These will help expose your music on a wider scale, an ensure you’re taking steps to getting where you want to be in the music business.

Treating Music As A Business Conclusion

As an independent musician, you haven’t got the ‘luxury’ of having a record label handle the business and promotional side of things. Luckily however, you have Independent Music Advice. We help anyone making independent music learn the music business, giving them a much better chance of doing well.

You may not have seen yourself getting into business, but you do need to take music as a business if you want to get your music out there.

6 thoughts on “Treating Music As A Business”

  1. I definitely agree, a band is a business if you have any thoughts of “success”, however you definte it. There’s only part of this article I take issue with, and that’s the TV/radio aspect. Yes, it would do wonders for a band’s career to be featured on either. However, the chances of that happening is extremely slim for most bands, no matter how good they are.

    Most radio stations are not interested in new music. Even if they are, the band would have to be on regular rotation to make their way into most people’s ears/brains.

    We’re in a paradigm shift. Pomplamoose is successful just using YouTube as a medium to sell their albums. T

  2. (Damn touch screens…wasn’t finished from previous comment). Anyways, YouTube is basically the new MTV and way to reach out to hungry new fans. However, most bands I see don’t use it to its full potential. With Pomplamoose, they were able to secure TV commercial licensing.

    So, I agree with your article whole-heartedly with the exception of concentrating on radio and TV as part of a band’s “success” plan. No band has control over that.

  3. Hi Chris. I purposely didn’t define success as everyone has a different view of what that is to them. In this article I wanted to focus on a mindset that needs to be achieved if you want to move things forward.

    When I mention TV and radio, I wasn’t just talking about MTV / big commercial radio stations. Even specialist music channels and lower level radio stations can get you a lot of exposure, and lead to people coming to find you online (Where you can collect their details). There is space for independent musicians to get on these outlets, and they provide a better use of your time then promoting to people who don’t want to be promoted to (E.G. People you’re adding on Facebook).

    Youtube is a good outlet for musicians, but like you said a lot of people don’t know how to successfully promote their video once it’s on there. I’ve seen independent musicians have their videos on specialist music channels however, and rake up their Youtube views in a very short space of time. Youtube without promotion is as useful as selling music without promoting it.

    Thanks for your comment, and good luck mastering the touch screen 😉

  4. Gotcha. I need to do more research into TV/Radio. I’ve seen local bands get on the radio, but I didn’t see any noticeable impact to their audience or reach.

    Mastering the touch screen lesson #99: Don’t try resizing the screen near the “Submit Comment” button. 🙂

  5. Wow! This is really a great site! Finally somebody has seen the link between internet marketing and music business. Well, great resources and please keep the flag flying: I’m sure this website will be real popular soon. By the way, be expecting an article from me.

    Once again, Thumbs up!

  6. Thanks Babatunde. This website is already quite popular, but getting it more so would definitely be a good thing 😉

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