It makes sense that as a creative person, you want to concentrate all your actions on your craft. Knowing the business side of the industry sharpens your art. If you want a profession, specifically a powerful one, then you must grasp the other side of the music business.
As a musician, talent is the base or foundation of having a successful career, but networking, branding, and networking are not what only conceives a successful career, but building a conglomerate around you. Reasons why it’s important you treat yourself not just as a music artist, but as a business on its own. Take Drake as an example.
Think of your Art/Craft as an Enterprise
You need to intentionally scrape the impression that you are just a musician or artist. It makes it hard to do especially when all you want to do and passionate about is to just create beautiful music, but if you want more like; making money with your songs, selling merchandise, selling songs, selling out venues, radio rotations, then you are more than just a musician, but a business.
You are a full brand and your songs and merchandise are the commodities you create. Your services are the performances you do everywhere. That’s why you must deal with your career as though you are starting a business.
To create the business of your career as an Indie Artist, follow these tested and trusted steps
- Creating the commodity
- Market Research
- Strength, Weakness, Opportunities, and Threats Analysis / Competitive Advantage
- Marketing & Strategy
Creating the commodity (the Music & Merch)
You and your team coming together to rehearse, produce records, right behind your house is no different than what Apple or Microsoft did in their begging days. It’s simply a business start-up. The difference is in the community. While they were creating a technology business, you on the other hand creates a business by making music, stage performances, merchandise, and other content.
But know this! No business can succeed without creating and selling a great community. You need to first sacrifice money and time into having quality music and content.
That is to say;
1. Know your skills/talent (subconsciously) and work on your vulnerable areas to become more competitive.
2. Spend sufficient time creating quality songs. Acquire tools to help you learn to make songs by yourself, get a qualified friend to help you, or pay for sessions.
3. Wrap and serve good songs and dope videos/pictures. Make use of interesting images, videos, and graphic arts. Fun facts. Smartphones can be a great tool for serving quality content for Indie musicians without having to break the bank.
Building a Brand out of yourself as an Independent Musician
In business, branding is a crucial thing any business must do because it is the DNA of the business. Branding is your identity. Choose an approach. Are you playful and posting comedic content, or you have an alluring personality approach, or your signature is being an activist in a particular field. Whatever it is, branding will play an important role in creating your commodities (songs & merch) and doing market research. What genre of music are you making, who is going to be your ideal fan? All these will have a bearing on how you brand yourself.
This is to say; from messaging, brand logo, biography, graphic arts, website, and so on. Every content coming from you has to be compatible and consistent with a premeditated audience and feel.
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Research and Know Your Target Audience (That’s the Market)
Before introducing a new commodity, the first thing every new business must do is researching the intending market to find a viable place available for grabs. You might want to jump this step as an artist since almost every musician doesn’t mind anyone at all listening to their music. Nonetheless, as an Indie musician, having one thousand loyal die-hard fans is substantial enough to live a good and comfortable life. While it is soothing to dream big and wanting to be mega like the Carters, it’s more profitable to focus on what matters to your core fans instead.
Work out who your true fans are and which other musicians compete with you within the same market space. As an up and coming artist, look for musicians who are similar to you and doing well, then use them as a model. Which artist has an impact on your songs and which artist shares similar features to your kind of sound? Learn streaming sites like Soundcloud, iTunes Music, Youtube, and web algorithms to learn more about your brand and those you are competing with. Look at similar musicians these streaming services you sign up with suggests to you and analyze your insights to keep ahead of the game by keeping your fans engaged.
Define your COMPETITIVE ADVANTAGE using a method dubbed a S.W.O.T Analysis
SWOT are steps every business takes to help them recognize their strength, weakness, opportunities, and threats. As an indie musician, these steps can be used to know and better identify your competitive advantage as an artist. Your area of strength might be having a beautifully unique voice and having a great producer to help you record. Your weaknesses may be a lack of money and connections to promoters. The opportunities you have got maybe jumping on new trends and techs before others and your threats in most cases is a saturated space of competing musicians fighting for the attentions of fans. This practice is not just to strengthen your career, but it’s the foundation to enabling you to recognize your place and how to make up plans from there.
Take this step to help uncover your competitive advantage to find out what makes you different. What are the opportunities available to you, your strength to take advantage of? Recall that thousands of music and published daily online and to be noticed, you have to be interesting in the tiniest realizable market. Find out what will make anyone within your target audience would halt n sighting your content and listening to you when they have a gazillion of other options to enjoy from. It’s an overpopulated market, so it is important you recognize your place and how to capitalize on your area of strength and the opportunities available to you.
Design Your Marketing & Plan
As states above, it’s an overpopulated market where there is no scarcity of arts and crafts in chunks, and this is the reason why marketing is key. The most cases, there is too much going on for an artist to thrive on talents alone.
Where do you start from? First writing a marketing plan, taking your place on the various social media sites, and building an engaging social media following just like any other start-up business will do. Only you know and can tell your own story properly, you know your target audience, but how do you catch up with them and turn them into your fan? The best place to start and for free is to create a social media plan. You need a reliable and free place to kick off by sharing organic plans as The bedrock. The plan is to keep fans engaged by creating and sharing interactive content. Using this strategy will eventually hit its effective limit as you target a larger and larger group of people outside your following.
In some instances, an original post can go viral, none less, it’s important to capitalize on paid ads reaching the maximum amount of people possible. Put to use different sites like Youtube, Instagram, Tik Tok, Twitter, and the rest.
Ready to run digital ads? Start with proper research and put together a realistic strategy, come up with a period table for each campaign. Know what your budget is, what you want to spend on different platforms, your targeting procedure, and so on.
As important as your digital plan is, don’t neglect the role of networking amongst people, especially those that share your values. Locate musicians you can work together with, reach out to industry experts, O.A.P’s DJ’s and so on. Don’t just jump into DMs seeking favors, take time to build long-lasting relationships by first offering values, this is the fastest route to building a cult following of people who will add your songs to their playlist, give you radio spins, social media trends, and so on.
Just as any start-up business, there will be bills to pay. You need to work out what these bills are with your possible sources of income. Evaluate your costs. Like any business, there will be variable and fix costs, just as any other kind of business start-up would have. Assess the amount to use for equipment, music recording, promotions/marketing, digital and social media ads. If you are going to be on the road, work out how much you will need for transportation, accommodation, and welfare.
Now the main part of it all, what ways do you have to generate income to finance your music and career? Streaming and disk sales, performance bookings, sales of merchandise, sponsorship/partnership, royalties, and so on. You can also prepare proposals and look out for grants from individuals and corporate organizations supporting the creative industry. After you have got all that sorted, make some calculations in line with your needs and the amount of money to be generated to break-even and perhaps even cashing in on the profits. Gather data. In this business, the number is everything. The number of followers, streams, CD sales, merch sales, and so on, you need to know how much of these you need to cash out from your music.
Knowing your true numbers can humble you, but don’t let that weigh you down. Most startups don’t usually get off making profits in their first year, you will run on losses at first as put into your craft. It is having a clear plan and mission and being committed to it that will turn red into green
Discover Ways to Fund Your Start-up (Music)
Every new business needs money to get the ball rolling, you as an indie musician no different. You have so many bills as seen above and little or no source of money to start. You need this money to put things in place until you start generating enough money to take care of those expenses mentioned. Prepare a document just like a new business that shows your plans strategy and mission for sponsors and investors and search for those who are willing to part away some money to help build your music career.
The first source of revenue would be ‘you’. Do you have a job, or render services that can help generate money to fund the new business(your indie music career)? If yes, then you have a great start-up soft landing. But if not, find ways, like getting a part-time job to help yourself with.
If that’s not enough, you can look towards funding from family and friends supporting you from donations.
5 friends can seat and spend a lot on drinks and chips, same friends can come together to support the business of a friend, reason why good friendships are important. But before then, you will have to sell your plans to them, show them the strategies you have in place to achieve all these. If the money was a loan, let them know exactly how you plan to generate funds to replay them back and the timeline for all these taking places.
Crowdfunding is another great opportunity for indie musicians to generate a reasonable amount of money to help fund their careers. Your go-to platforms abound such as; GoFundMe, Patreon, and even Kickstater.
You can also seek grants from organizations that support the creative industry and the government also.
Registering yourself as a full fletched business will position you to be able to deal for business loans or credits just as other startups do.
Conclusion: Are you prepare to become a Business as an Indie Musician?
By no means is all these easy, but you must take them seriously. The more passionate, focus and consistent you are about your music (the business) and brand, the greater your chances of becoming a success. Spend quality time learning and creating top-performing content and art and you will be seen and heard more than you ever imagined.
We suggest you follow these steps to getting ahead in the game even if it’s just some of them.
I am sure you are excited to let your people know you are starting your business and that business will be yourself. Isn’t it?