Michael C Smith, August 14 2018

Three ways DIY artists can find success in the music industry

Talk to many new artists and you hear a lot of the same same things. "I don't  need a record label, I don't need a manager, I don't need a publisher, I don't need a booking agent". Wait thirty minutes and you get to the crux of the matter " I don't have money, so I'm forced to find ways on my own to make it but I'm not making an impact." If this is you, don't worry. I'm going to show you how to accept responsibility for your career and get on track.

Make a decision

Are you in music as a hobby or are you in it as a business? These are two different paths. If you are adverse to making money off your music, don't like to practice, don't like to be on other people schedules, or don't like to answer to others then stick to music as a hobby. On the other hand if you want to make music your primary source of income, open to grueling schedules, and understand that there are people you need to answer to then let's explore how you can make the business of music work for you.

Operate as a business

When I speak at conferences or meet with clients the first thing I get them to understand is that as artists we make a product. We then give the rights to other companies to sell the product on a national or global scale. In return these companies give us money for the use of the rights. Understand what is happening here. You are operating as a business. If you make shoes and you get five stores in your city to sell the shoes and these shoes sell well, the store owners are going to want more shoes and the public is going to want more shoes. Eventually you will expand. When you get to 20 or 80 or 200 stores, you won't be able to make the shoes on your own and take 100 shoes to 200 stores. You're going to need a staff, a distributor, a marketer, an accountant, an operations manager, a public relations manager etc. Each job is an 8-12 hr a day job on its own.  Some of these jobs you'll be good at while others you won't be as good at. In the end however, a shoe makers main strength is designing shoes. If you're not making shoes you're not utilizing your strength.

The same is true in the music business. As an artist your number one job is to make music. It doesn't matter how good your music is, if you're not getting your music out to the public, then you're not making money. That said every minute of your work day should be writing music, practicing music, recording music or performing music. There's still promotion, distribution, marketing, accounting, operations and ton of other things that need to be done. You can not do it all yourself. If you want success in this business, you have to operate as a business. This means hiring people to get these jobs done. Whether you want to sign to a major or stay independent is up to you. The fact however is that both options are businesses. Set yourself up as a business and think like a business. You'll get the results you want.

Invest in your business

Many people trying to make it in the music business have two jobs. Your real job and your day job. Your real job of making music and your day job which supplements your income, but are your really using your day job effectively? If you aren't putting money into your business, don't expect someone else to. At least 10% of your income from your day job should be invested into your real job. 20% if you want to start making an immediate impact. Will that hurt your pockets financially? It should. If you really want to make it in this business you have  to spend money to make money, and for many your only investor is going to be you in the beginning. Sell your Xbox, do your own hair and makeup, take dinner for lunch. Start cutting those corners so you can invest in yourself. Obtaining your goal in this business of music must be your number one priority. Take that money and invest in singing lessons, writing clinics, studio time, website design, Electronic Press Kit (EPK) creation, marketing...all those things that you need but may not be able to afford now. When you do start making money off your music, put this money into savings account. You already proved you don't need it to live, save it for an emergency, like being on tour with two flat tires. The reality is that the music industry is in chaos and executives are not paying attention to artists until they command attention. Invest in your business and make an impact. 

Wrapping Up

The day of the Do It Yourself artist is over. In order to be successful in the music industry artists need to make major impacts and you need a team to do it. Make a decision. Ask yourself if you really want to be in the business of music and if so start operating as one. Invest in your business and you'll see the return.

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Written by

Michael C Smith

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