Treat Your Music Career as Your Business

Okay guys and girls, it’s real talk time.

Following our discussion from part 1 in this series, we focus on the aspect which many artists hate to talk about or completely neglect; the business side of the music industry.

Being a independent music maker in today’s world means you have to be business savvy. Your product? You. Your sales exec is you, you are the marketing team and you are the CEO of your brand. Everything a business operates with is you.

Technology, computers and social media have left the industry wide open to the fastest thinking, most original and fastest evolving businesses. The same thing applies to music, and with more creators out there than ever before, you need to be seen as a thought leader through your art.

As creatives we often really don’t do well with paperwork and organisation, but we’re also often known to be risk takers, which can be really good for us in the long term.

Lesson to Learn – No One is Going to Care About Your Music/Business Like You Do

One thing you have to realise is that unless you are making someone else money, as nice as they may be, they don’t (and won’t) care about your product as much as you do.

This is especially true with an art form.

Therefore you should be preparing and taking all the necessary steps to know every aspect of the music industry. For example, after this article you should be spending a few hours doing your own research

Work Harder than Anyone Else and Use Your Resources

Want to get that deal to make that song? Make sure you’re the best producer, or lyric writer, or performer. Practise makes perfect, and this is where it’s going to come in handy. Get those 100 000  hours in and make sure that when you do a gig, they want you back.

Also, think about your connections, and use them. If you’re just starting out you have to make those connections, so go out and meet people in the industry, start at your local music store and work you way up. It takes time, but the return on the time investment is worth the work. Collaborate with as many artists as you can, gain experience and make as much music as possible.

Like anything in life, those who work the hardest and put in the greatest effort always become successful, especially over individuals who just rely on pure ‘talent’

Make Sure Your Legal Side is in Order

Especially with Record Label and producer contracts, management contracts and Copyright

SAMRO, CAPASSO and SAMPRA are organisations (In South Africa) that you need to get to grips with. There are many reasons  why and we’ll be dealing with that in a later article, but you need to get your paperwork done with them. The same thing works for any country or state. There are organizations who license your music, giving radio and other platforms the rights to play it so that you can get paid.

The first and best thing you can do right now is make sure you have signed up with these agencies mentioned above

Some Business Terms You Need to Know

If you are treating your music like a business then you need to some of the terms and Jargon. Below are just a few examples, make sure you do YOUR research and understand them:

Marketing – promoting and selling products (your music) or services, including market research and advertising

Advertising Opportunity – Your product might be doing really well, this is a chance to pull in people who want to advertise with you.

Branding – Marketing and other methods that help to distinguish companies and musicians from their competitors. Branding is about telling people who you and what your brand entails

Merchandise – Many musicians have made the really big bucks by going into clothing lines, perfume etc. This means branching out into something beyond your normal scope.

Business Plan/Strategy – Your personal roadmap for success starting from the process of creating a song all the way to selling it 

Competitive Analysis/Advantage – It is what it sounds like. Measuring what you have and seeing where you come out top against your peers. It also states your weaknesses and other possible opportunities 

Adopters and Innovators – The people who either create or adopt something (this includes music style). It’s best to be an innovator or an early adopter, this put you at the front of the curve.

Return on Investment (ROI) – To evaluate the efficiency of your investment in your music career (your work, time energy, money spent). Has your efforts and investments paid off and why?

Publishing –  Ensuring the songwriters and composers receive payment when their compositions are used commercially. Through an agreement called a publishing contract

Copyright – The legal right granted to an author, composer, playwright, publisher, or distributor to exclusive publication, production, sale, or distribution of musical work

These are just a few, and we mean just few examples of the kinds of things you should be looking at.

For part 3 of our “Take Control of Your Music” series we will be going into further detail about your product and marketing