The Music Business is an exciting world. Contrary to popular belief, it is not always as straightforward as making music, sharing it & having fans rally around you. You may have to learn some lessons the hard way, but depending on how well you navigate the industry, you can achieve your desired results. Taking all this into consideration, we will be sharing essential things artists should know as they start and grow in the music business.
The moment you release a song or a beat, you become an entrepreneur
Acquaint yourself with the business side of the music industry and know how it works - distribution, publishing, royalties, digital marketing, radio plays and even content creation, brand building and social media. Music is an industry where what you don't know can hurt you.
Don't underestimate the power of planning.
“Good intentions might sound nice, but it’s positive actions that matter.” Like with every business, it is always advisable to plan. Business plans can range from one page to a hundred pages. Start from where you are. The basic things to consider when drawing up a plan are:
-Strategic/Long-Term Objectives - "Where do I see myself in a few years?"
-Tactical Goals - "How do I implement my strategy over a period of months?"
-Action Plans - "How do I accomplish my goals in a period of days or weeks?"
(Remember SMART goals: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Timely.)
Think of business planning as a road trip - If you don’t know your destination you'll be driving around with no place to go.
Explore different methods of music distribution, including digital platforms, streaming services, physical releases, and licensing opportunities. Research and choose the distribution channels that align with your goals and target audience.
Contracts, copyrights, publishing and legal matters
When it comes to law, familiarize yourself with copyright laws and how they protect your original music. Understand the rights you possess as a creator and how to register your work with relevant organizations.
When signing agreements with labels, managers, or other industry professionals, carefully review contracts and seek legal advice if needed. Understand the terms, rights, royalties, and obligations involved before committing to any deal.
Royalties and income streams
Music royalties are payments that go to recording artists, songwriters, composers, publishers, and other copyright holders for the right to use their intellectual property. Educate yourself on the various income streams available to musicians, such as mechanical royalties, performance royalties, synchronization fees, and merchandise sales. Learn how to register your works and collect royalties through performance rights organizations (PROs) and other agencies. Mechanical royalties are generated through physical or digital reproduction and distribution of your copyrighted songs,
Performance royalties are generated through copyrighted songs being performed, recorded, played, or streamed in public,
Synchronization royalties are generated when copyrighted music is paired or ‘synced’ with visual media),
Print music royalties apply to copyrighted music transcribed to a print piece such as sheet music and then distributed through a print music publisher are major types.
Learning how to navigate the complexities of royalties may seem daunting, but it provides a revenue stream and protects your music.
Marketing and promotion
As earlier mentioned, it is important to develop marketing skills to effectively promote your music. Utilize social media, websites, email lists, and other platforms to engage with your fans and build a strong online presence. Understand the importance of branding and creating a consistent image.
Networking and building relationships
The music industry relies heavily on connections and relationships. Attend industry events, conferences, and local gigs to meet industry professionals, fellow musicians, and potential collaborators. Networking can lead to valuable opportunities and exposure.
Develop your live performance skills and consider touring as a means of reaching new audiences and generating income. Understand the logistics involved in booking shows, negotiating contracts, and ensuring a successful tour. While some may need to do quite a bit for free at first, the focus needs to switch to getting paid as soon as it makes financial sense. Do not always work for free! Some artists forget the business part of music and do things for free longer than necessary. You are building a career and your business should be treated accordingly. That doesn’t mean great opportunities should be lost if there’s no money involved, it just means you have to weigh the opportunity versus getting paid. Know your worth and don't be afraid to let people know it too.
When the money starts rolling in, manage your finances wisely by creating a budget, tracking expenses, and understanding revenue streams. Consider working with an accountant or financial advisor who specializes in the music industry to help you make informed financial decisions.
Industry changes and trends
Stay updated on industry news, technological advancements, and emerging trends. The music business constantly evolves, and being aware of new platforms, marketing strategies, and consumer preferences can help you adapt and make informed decisions.
You may want to just make music that glorifies the Lord but you cannot pour out of an empty cup. Balancing the creative and business aspects of your career is key to long-term success. Look at your artistry as a business too! While understanding that the business part of music is important, it's equally crucial to focus on creating high-quality music while remaining true to yourself. Yes, running a business will challenge you in ways you never considered and yes, there will be days when you stumble, but remember, God will always be there to catch you and lift you back up.