If you think that it is “wrong” for musicians to want to make money with music, save yourself some time by closing this page right now.
Okay…for those of you who are still reading, I will be showing you what you need to know in order to develop a long and successful career in the music business that will give you the ability to make a good living. It is common for most musicians to be skeptical of making a lot of money in the music industry. Often, these musicians have a strong fear that pursuing a music career means not having enough money to support themselves. As a result, they end up working in jobs outside of music that they loathe going to each day; unaware of their true potential to achieve success by working in the music business. After mentoring many musicians to improve their music careers, I can tell you that this skepticism, and the resulting misdirection of talent and effort, is overwhelmingly common.
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.
Not only must you consider yourself as a musician, but you must also think with an entrepreneurial mindset and take consistent action to further your career. Basically, your music career must be treated in a business-like manner where your “service” is all the things you can offer to music companies, record labels, promoters, fans, and other people in the music industry.
Most musicians do not know how to treat their music career in a professional, business-like manner. This is why so many of these people struggle to make a lot of money in the music business.
To quickly test out your current understanding of what it takes to become successful in the music business, take this short survey on pursuing a career in music before reading the rest of this article.
On top of not approaching their music careers with an understanding of the business side of things, the majority of musicians do not earn a lot of money in the music industry due to making 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 Consistently Providing Additional Value To Other People In The Music Industry
To gain a solid understanding of what “value” means when it applies to the idea of making a living in the music business, you must pay close attention to the next sentence. Regardless of what you do in the music industry, whether it be touring in a band, creating music in the studio, giving music instruction or working as a record producer, the people in the music industry (including bands you play for, record labels, music students, etc.) must decide on working together with you versus thousands of musicians competing for the same opportunity. If you don’t want to blend in with the crowd and go unnoticed, you will need to gain the upper hand on your music competition by creating value that far exceeds that of what most musicians are able to offer. This does not simply mean working on developing your music skills! Developing truly high value in your music career deals with many different aspects of your personal mindset, emotional stability under stress, and ability to work very hard on a consistent basis.
If you want to make a lot of money in your music career, you will need to make it 110% clear that you are the number one choice when someone in the music industry must choose between you and your competitors. In fact, this must be totally clear before anyone has even listened to one second of your music!
This may seem like a simple concept as you are reading it right now. However, as simple as it may be, almost all musicians do not build their music careers by acting on this basic principle. To find out how much you apply this concept in your own music career, take this short survey for creating music business value.
By increasing your potential to create value (for all people involved) during any music related activity, you will be able to quickly earn a lot of money in the music business. This is one of the main ideas I focus on while training musicians to build highly successful music careers.
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 to whom you are going to give it. 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 Having Solid Goals And Ways To Reach Them
To earn a good living in the music industry, you must develop a specific plan for how you will reach your goals. If you merely fantasize about making a lot of money, this is not enough to make this goal a reality. Rather than fantasizing, start working toward what you want to achieve by asking yourself the following questions:
- What is your desired yearly income from your music career?
- What are the sources of musical income that will make the amount in Question 1 possible?
- What are the steps you must take to set up these sources of income? (Read this article about music business planning to learn more about this)
- How many ways can you add value to your interactions with people in the music business? (Think of every possibility!)
- How many ways can you eliminate risk for other people in the music business?
After you have figured out your answers for each question above, you must focus on making every action you take in your music career go toward achieving the exact goals you have made for yourself.
Most musicians looking to become successful in the music business are not sure what they must do to reach their desired goals. If you are experiencing this as well, the best solution to this problem is to seek out training from a professional who has shown other musicians how to earn a lot of money in their careers. This way, you can avoid making mistakes that will cost you significant time and effort to fix.
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 a lot of musicians who think that making good money from their musical talents is “wrong” or “deceptive” in some way. These people think that it is only important to continue improving their musical skills. Although improving as a musician is clearly important, if you’d like to have the freedom to make music for a living, you will also need to invest your time into improving upon the business side of your music career. This way you won’t need to work a dead end day job just to make ends meet.
There is no precise method for predicting every decision you will need to make in your music career to make more money. However, by simply avoiding the mistakes discussed in this article, you will be well on your way to making a great living in the music business. Once you have gained more time due to the financial freedom you will obtain, you will be able to focus more intensely on creating the music you love.
About The Author:
Tom Hess is an electric guitar teacher online and a music career mentor. He plays guitar and tours with the band Rhapsody Of Fire. Tom also trains musicians on how to break into the music business. On his website tomhess.net you can read many more articles about building a music career.