As an emerging artist, you are a lot like a start-up business. Building a successful business requires takes hard work, time, and persistence. Like everyday entrepreneurs, you are responsible for your career’s success. Smart musicians know how to properly brand themselves and navigate the business in order to achieve long-term success. Here are six ways to run your music career like a boss:
Know your fans
Any good business knows who their customers are and how to fulfill a specific need. If a business does not understand their customers, their marketing messages will fall flat and they will not make sales. As an artist, you must know who your ideal fan is. Your music is not for everybody. Identify the type of person who is most likely to like your music and support your brand.
Show and promote your value
The idea that “if you build it, they will come” or “if you make good music, they will find it” is a myth. Smart business owners demonstrate the value their products and services provide to their customers. They also consistently market to their customers to sell their products. As an artist, you must show your target fans why they should listen to your music and support. You have to communicate what’s in it for them. Consistently market to your target fans to increase your awareness and generate revenue from your music.
Investing in your brand
Business owners must constantly invest in their business in order for them to grow into multimillion-dollar enterprises. If you want to be a successful musician, you must consistently invest in yourself. While the cost of music production has lowered over the past decades and there are low-cost digital tools to promote your music, investing money in your brand is still crucial. Technology has made it easier for anyone to be an “artist” and you have to break through the thousands of artists who are trying to get their music heard. Invest in yourself or no one else will.
Protect your assets
A business has valuable assets that allows them to be competitive and generate revenue such as patents, trademarks, and logos. A business can also lose money or be forced to shut down if they do not have the proper business licenses and setup. You will get burned and lose money if you do not protect your art and have the proper agreements in place. Register all your works with U.S. Copyright Office, your performance rights organization, and SoundExchange to protect your assets and collect money generated from your work. (While you technically own a copyright once your work is created it is harder to fight a copyright infringement case in court if it is not registered). Hire a good entertainment attorney to review your contracts, negotiate on your behalf, and represent you in legal cases.
Wise business owners do not mix their personal and business finances. Register your music business with your state and get an EIN from the IRS. Open up a business bank account to manage the funds for your music endeavors. Use applications such as Quickbooks or Freshbooks to keep track of your revenue and expenses. Some of your career-related expenses are tax deductible, but you must keep good records to in order to claim them. While you are at it, hire a good accountant to complete your tax returns and review your finances.
Be Persistent while Patient
Many small businesses do not turn a profit the first few years. It takes years to build a successful business. Many artists that are deemed an “overnight success” have been working for years to accomplish their goals. They have sacrificed and endured hard times to become successful. Fetty Wap and Monty were living in Monty’s car before “Trap Queen” became a hit. If this your dream, you have to continuously work towards your goals while being patient in waiting for the right doors to open. The music industry is a “wait your turn” kind of industry, but if you work hard and stay persistent you will achieve success.