How To Make Money In The Music Business
by Tom Hess
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Disclaimer: If you believe that music should be free and it's “unethical” for musicians to care about making money, this article is NOT for you.
This might come as a shock to you, but:
Want to make money in the music business? It's simple actually.
Yes, it's true.
Anyone can do it, including you.
Best of all:
...you don't need to be a world-famous rock star to earn a lot of money in the music business.
Being famous and earning a lot of money are often very different things in the music business. (Although both are achievable.)
Make money in the music business by:
- Learning basic money-making principles and applying them to everything you do in the music business.
(I show you how to do this below.)
- Having other knowledge and skills outside of playing your instrument.
This helps you add massive value to every project you work on and make it more successful.
- Having a strong work ethic, so you can take the right actions that are needed to build a lucrative career.
Watch this video to see just how simple it REALLY is to make good money in the music business:
Question: “But Tom Hess, everyone knows that most musicians don’t make a lot of money! If it is easy to make money in the music business, why aren’t more people doing it?”
Answer: Yes, many musicians do struggle financially…but not because it is hard to make money in music business. Most musicians choose not to learn or do the simple things that make financial success possible. They might say they want to make more money, but their actions prove otherwise.
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This means it becomes easier to make money in the music business for you. Why? Because you have very little competition in the music business (yes, you read this correctly). If you are serious about your music career success, the size of your real competition is very, very small.
These money-making principles help you make tons of money in the music business:
Make Money In The Music Business - Principle #1: Think Like An Entrepreneur
You are a music business entrepreneur first, a musician second. You are in business of providing massive value to fans, bands, record companies, promoters, publishers, booking agents and other entities in the music business. “Providing value” means helping these people/companies get what they want. The more value you provide, the more money you earn.
Hint: Your musical skills are only one piece of value that helps you make money in the music business. Your musical skills are only one piece of value that helps you make money in the music business. When you lack other skills outside of playing your instrument, making money in music becomes much harder for 3 reasons:
- You have a lot more competition from other musicians who are just like you.
- People and companies in the music industry can find great musicians anywhere. There is no reason for them to work with you over anyone else (and pay you more money).
- You struggle to engage your fans, turn them into super fans and get them to support your music career.
This guide explains how to think like a music business entrepreneur and get your fans to buy your music.
Question: “Tom Hess, what other skills help me become more valuable to everyone in the music industry?”
Answer: This article shows 22 things the music industry looks for in you.
Make Money In The Music Business - Principle #2: Go The Extra Mile
When you get any opportunity to make money in the music business, go above and beyond the basics you are expected to do (such as playing your instrument). Use all your talents and resources to make the entire project more successful and earn more money.Examples of this include:
- Helping your band’s promoter book more shows. This makes their job easier and helps your band directly.
- Helping your band or record company reduce expenses (through some creative thinking) or find new streams of income. Do this even if you are not the band leader and don’t see an immediate increase in your own income.
- Thinking of new experiences to offer your fans that they want and are willing to pay for. This builds a stronger relationship with your fans and improves your cash flow situation directly.
- Looking for ways to improve your band’s merchandise sales. (Hint: most bands do a very poor job selling their merchandise. Anyone with any sales background can easily double or triple most bands’ income in this area.).
- Discovering the record company’s biggest problems and challenges and offer your expertise, contacts and knowledge to solve them.
These actions require knowledge of marketing, sales, promotion, business operations, strategy and win/win negotiating. Music business training helps you acquire these (and other) skills and use them to grow your music career.
(Note: going the extra mile isn’t specific to musicians who play in bands or who work with record companies. It applies to YOU, no matter what you do in the music business.)
Tip: When you lack skills to provide value in some area, be proactive and acquire them. This helps you become more valuable in the short term and your new skills stay with you for life.
Question: “But Tom Hess, if I freely offer my value to others, won’t people take advantage of me?”
Answer: No. Here is why:
When you offer more value than anyone else, you become in demand. This means other people, bands and companies want to work with you. When you are in demand, the amount of money you earn goes way up. This is one of the best principles of free-market capitalism.
In most cases, you are the direct beneficiary of your actions. When you help the project you work on make more money - YOU make more money!
Make Money In The Music Business - Principle #3: Build Multiple Streams Of Income
Most musicians go into the music business looking for a job. They plan to make money in the music business through one source of income, such as recording music. There are several problems with this:
- It’s harder to earn a lot of money through any single activity in the music business …especially in the beginning of your career.
- Your income becomes less secure. You are in big financial trouble if anything happens to your one source of income.
- The overall amount of money you can earn in the music business becomes limited.
You really make money in the music business when your income streams are diversified. Earning money from multiple sources also makes your career a lot more secure.
Whether you want to be a performing artist, a songwriter, a studio musician, a record producer, an author, a music teacher or anything else, you need to earn money from a variety of ongoing projects.
Make Money In The Music Business - Principle #4: Know Who Your Fans Are
You must know who you are going to sell your skills, products and services to. This helps you turn your music business value into music career income.
If you are about to release your record, you must have a list of fans who you expect to buy it. You also need a way to easily contact your fans any time you want.
If you are a studio musician, you need a list of studios, musicians and bands who may require your services in the future.
If you are a performing musician, you need a list of clubs, booking agents and promoters to contact. You also need a database of local fans whom you want to come to your gigs.
You also must build a relationship with your fans and make them excited about your upcoming release or show.
This music career test helps you improve your music promotion skills.
Question: “Tom Hess, isn’t it the record label’s or the promoter’s job to be responsible for these aspects of my career?”
Answer: No. Only you are ultimately responsible for your own career. Your list of customers and fans must be within your control, even when you have someone else promoting your music for you. This helps you make money in the music business and live securely.
Make Money In The Music Business - Principle #5: Have Specific Goals And Plans For Reaching Them
You need a specific plan for reaching your music career income goals. Simply wishing to make more money doesn't help you achieve it. Start by answering for yourself the following questions:
- How much money do you want to earn every year in your music career?
- What streams of music-related income allow you to reach this goal?
- What actions must you take to put these streams into motion?
- What are all the possible ways you can add value to others in the music business?
- What are all the possible ways you can reduce risk for others in the music business?
Make Money In The Music Business - Principle #6: Separate Fame From Financial Success
Many musicians assume that being famous helps them make more money in the music business. This is (usually) a myth. You can earn a very good income (6 figures per year) as a professional musician without being very famous. Fame doesn't guarantee a great income in the music industry. Many well-known musicians in big bands still work day jobs to pay the bills.
Understanding the difference between fame and financial success helps you stay focused on your most important goals.
Question: “Tom Hess, isn’t it possible to be both famous and financially well-off at the same time?”
Answer: Of course. But you must first decide which of these goals is a higher priority for you and allocate your efforts accordingly.
Implement these principles to become a successful professional musician and earn a great living doing what you love.
Want to make more money from selling your music? Download this free music business eGuide on how to get your fans to buy your music instead of downloading it illegally.
About Tom Hess: Tom Hess is a guitar teacher, music career mentor and guitar teacher trainer. He trains musicians how to leave their day jobs and build successful fulltime careers in the music industry.
Earn a good living in your music career by joining this music business training program.