There are some fundamental things that you as an artist have to understand to make your art go from a hobby to a career. First and foremost, if you are trying to make your music your career, you have to be able to view it in two forms: art and business–there is no other way. If you can’t do that, you need to re-evaluate what you’re trying to accomplish. Now that we’re past that, let’s discuss your music career as a business and how you should be investing in it.
Treat it like a Business
There are some different ways to view this depending on the size of the artist, but for now we will just focus on the smaller independent artist who is just getting started. As revolting as it may seem to your artistic side, try to view your music as a start-up company and your fans as potential investors. What makes someone invest their money in a start up company? The direct reflection you as the owner are showing them through your product, time, and personal assets you invest. Why would anyone want to put their hard-earned money or time into your business if you aren’t willing to do the same? If you have nothing at stake personally, then it shows a lack of commitment and conviction to your cause. You need to be at risk and it needs to be apparent to your potential investors (fans) so they can get behind you. That doesn’t mean you absolutely have to put 100 percent of your money and time into the business, but people need to feel that you are committed and in it for the long haul.
Invest in your Music
So, what’s the right percentage? Is there a right one? It’s different for every artist but in the beginning you should be leaning very high toward the investment side if not 100 percent. Chances are you are going to be in the negative like any new business for a while, putting 100 percent of the income you make right back into it plus extra if you can afford it. Luckily, there are certain things you can do in the beginning to try and offset this. For example, there are merchandise companies that will let you pay off merchandise orders at a later date, giving you time to sell and make the money directly from the product first. You may have to start out by paying upfront, but once you build a relationship with the company, that trust can be applied.
Its about a Brand
The same goes for fans buying into your brand. Would you wear your T-shirt? If not, why would they? Take pride in everything you put out, from your music to the smallest details. You might think people don’t notice the time investment but trust me, they do. Investing the time is HUGE and a lot of young artists don’t want to wait. “Hey, let’s play this brand new song live we wrote yesterday” is probably not the best idea on the business end. When was the last time you heard the owner of a new company say to a potential investor, “Hey, I came up with this awesome business idea last night. Can I have your money for it?” Understanding that every time you are performing your art in front of people is a business opportunity to gain new investors in your brand can give you the patience and understanding to fine-tune your brand.
Once you understand the commitment required to make your art go from passionate hobby to self-sustaining career you will know how important investing in your music as a business is. When you start applying it, you will never go back.
By: Grant Brandell
Service & Product Sales Manager for Symphonic Distribution
Symphonic Distribution was launched in the winter of 2006 by a Music Producer from Tampa, Florida. The company was launched with the intention of providing new and established record labels cost effective digital distribution to retailers such as iTunes, Beatport, Rhapsody, Amazon, and more with a strong emphasis on customer satisfaction. By the end of 2007, the company
struck agreements with over 250 record labels, and improved its offerings to include additional services such as Mastering, Marketing, Label/Artist Development, and more.