Hey guys, today I want to look at some of the business skills you need to learn and implement if you want to make it as a professional musician. It’s no good sitting back and waiting for a record label to come along and take care of that side of things for you; if you don’t get your act together, a load of very important things simply aren’t going to get done.
While I’ve talked a lot about the importance of marketing your music and improving your talent, there’s one more key ingredient to having a successful music career you need to learn: Getting the right music business mentality!
Without a strong business mentality, quite simply you could ruin any chance you had of creating a successful music career. If you have a load of talent but haven’t got any clear goals for where you’re going and by when, you’re practically stabbing wildly in the dark. Similarly, if you start making money from your music but don’t fill out the correct tax forms at the end of the tax year (Or whenever they sort it out in your country), you could end up getting a huge fine when the authorities catch up with you.
I’ve already talked a lot about getting yourself the right music business mentality in my book the Independent Musician’s Survival guide (And how to do that). That said, I thought I’d quickly share a few of the points from the book in this post for those that haven’t read it yet. So here’s a few tips for getting both your music business mentality and music career on track. If you find them useful, please share this guide using the social sharing buttons at the top and bottom of this post. And don’t forget to check this additional music business skill after.
1. Set A Clear Path With S.M.A.R.T Aims And Objectives
This first one is very important. As I mentioned above, without setting clear goals for yourself in terms of what you want to achieve in your music career, you’re making it a lot harder to know what you should be doing on a daily and weekly basis. Think about it; If you knew one of your main goals was to ‘be playing at least 2 shows a week in 6 months from now, all within a 15 mile radius‘, you’d more easily be able to come up with a action plan. You’ll know you need to start contacting venues, and you’d know you need to up your performance skills.
This would be one of your aims, of which you’d probably have a few. They would all be broken down so are easily to implement and work towards.
If however you was to simply have one big general aim such as ‘I want to get more fan and make more money’, it not going to be able to easily pin point what you really need to do to achieve this. You may try and do all the things that are generally associated with achieving this (Gigging, having a website, social stuff etc), but you’re not going to be able to take the best steps you can as it’ll be hard to determine what those are.
In order to allow yourself the best chance of making easy to break down and achievable goals for yourself, you need to implement S.M.A.R.T aims. S.M.A.R.T is an acronym which stands for:
- S = Specific
- M = Measurable
- A = Attainable
- R = Relevant
- T = Timed
As you can see, the above goal I used (to be playing at least 2 shows a week in 6 months from now, all within a 15 mile radius) fits into all of the above requirements. It’s specific (You know exactly what needs to be achieved), it’s measurable (You can measure the results as it has specific numbers), it’s attainable (It’s a goal you can realistically achieve), it’s relevant (It’s a goal that relates to your overall aim), and it can be timed (It has a end date by which you need to achieve it by).
If you break down your goals and make sure they’re S.M.A.R.T, you can then more easily draw up a business plan with the steps you need to take to hit your goals.
I give a load more advice on how to implement S.M.A.R.T aims to make yourself a clear path in both the Independent Musician’s Survival Guide and the IMA Music Business Academy, so check out either if you want to learn some practical ways to implement this.
2. Keep Detailed Records Of Everything
As I’m sure you know, every legitimate business should have records of their business dealings. And guess what?
As a musician, you are a business!!
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That’s right; not only will you be dealing with money and providing a service to people, but you’ll also be providing a service to other businesses such as venues who want entertainment for their customers. Once again, YOU ARE A BUSINESS!
As you’re a business, it’s time to start acting like one. And one of the main things you need to do is get all your paper work in order. This doesn’t have to be difficult, so read on and make sure you give it a proper try. 🙂
Not only will you need financial information for the tax man (Yes, musicians do pay tax), but you’ll also need to keep all sorts of records to make running your music career a lot easier for yourself. Some of the things you’ll need to keep records of are:
- People’s contact details. No, it’s not enough to just store people’s numbers in your mobile phone.
- Potential performance venues details. Be sure to make a note of which you’ve contacted, which of them allow performances and which don’t, who your contact at this venue is etc.
- Potential collaborators.
- Your previous press coverage and testimonials. You may need to list these places in future.
- And more.
Often it’s enough to keep all of these details in a Word or Excel file (Or your alternative word processor / spread sheet program). It’s important that you order these files in an easy to find manner, as you’ll most likely have to use your filing system a lot. So make sure it makes sense to you.
As with all the other points in this guide, more details and practical tips for getting this up and running can be found in my book the Independent Musician’s Survival Guide and in the IMA Music Business Academy.
3. Set A Mandatory Work Schedule
The last point I want to look at today is the importance of setting yourself a work schedule for the business side of your music career. While talent is a very important factor when it comes to achieving your musical goals, the reality is that if you don’t put the time into making your music career work, most likely you won’t get very far at all. While there are some exceptions to this rule, I think it’s fair to say that over 99% of musicians won’t achieve their goals if they don’t put the work in.
*Disclaimer: Yes I made that figure up based on what I’ve seen, if it’s not 100% accurate sue me :p
With that in mind, it’s important you start treating your music career as a business. And what is one of the things that the majority of business have in common? That’s right, a set working schedule!
While it would be nice to work under the assumption that if you gave everyone flexible hours to do their work when it best suits them, in reality that really wouldn’t work. Most people need set working hours, otherwise they simply wouldn’t get as much work done as they need to do. And from what I’ve seen from working closely with musicians, this can often be the case.
If you want to make sure you put in enough time to move your career forward, you should consider giving yourself set hours. So during this time, you know you have to work on the business side of your music and nothing else. What this will do is ensure you apply a minimum amount of time to bettering your situation every week (You can do more hours if you wish). It also makes it harder to think “I’m not doing ‘that’ today, I’m going to watch TV instead”; you wouldn’t be able to do that in a proper job would you?
Applying set times to work on the business side of your music career is a very good idea, and something you should consider if you’re finding it hard to sit down and do what needs to be done. If you try this, let me know how you get on with it.
So there you have it, three business skills you really should implement if you want to run your music career more professionally. As a musician you are a business, so it’s time to start treating yourself like one.
If you want to learn more skills and give yourself a much better chance of success, have a look through this site and gain as much knowledge on the music industry as you can.
As always, let me know any thoughts you may have in the comments below, and please share this page via the below social sharing buttons if you’ve found it useful. Thanks. 🙂