My girlfriend at the time and mom thought I was crazy when I first quit my job at an insurance company to be a “full-time….musician?” (Yikes, right? What’s this dude going to be able to afford?)! They assumed that I was trying to be a rockstar and play stadiums rock shows. Maybe I didn’t communicate effectively to them that I had very modest and realistic goals. I didn’t properly explain to them that I had a game plan and that I had taken steps to make sure I’d be alright without my traditional job (that gave me security but little else).
The reason I knew I would be okay in my new endeavour as a music entrepreneur is because I:
- Surrounded myself with people who in some way or another were making a living solely with music,
- I started working as a musician and getting paid before I quit my full-time job. I made sure I had bookings extending a month or two into the future as well as a bunch of guitar students to teach lessons to,
- I was diversifying. This is super important, especially when starting out! This means doing a few different music related things to make a living.
If you have the skill to play and/or sing but have never considered being a music entrepreneur then you understandably may not know all the ways to make money with music. Hell, I’m still learning and I’ve been doing this for the better part of a decade. That’s the best thing about music, you are always learning. Every new lesson opens a bunch of new doors you never knew existed. It is true with your playing and it is true with your business skills. Here are a bunch of ways that you can turn your passion of music into a career (Thats RIGHT! A career! I know music entrepreneurs that own their own homes and have normal lives that they enjoy very much!);
- Busking (Wherever able, check local laws concerning where and what regulations apply)
- Playing live shows (Pubs, clubs, restaurants, hotels, etc)
- Playing private parties (Birthdays, anniversary parties, special events, etc)
- Playing weddings/having your own wedding band
- Playing on cruise ships/overseas hotels or casinos
- Teaching music lessons
- Booking and/or promoting live music
- Selling original music and merchandise
- Licensing original music for film and television
- Owning music industry assets such as your own music school, booking agency, recording, or production company
- Scoring music for artists/bands in your area (or online…another business opportunity for starting a company!)
- DJ-ing or hosting Karaoke/Open mic nights
- Writing songs for artists, ringtones, etc
- Recording local artists’ music
- Doing session work (playing in studio or on someone else’s home recordings)
- Gaining a following playing online (YouTube, Periscope, etc. Other business options become available here such as leveraging your influence for network marketing).
- And more!
As you see, it isn’t all monkey business indeed! It is a lot of fun to play shows to make a living, it’s the best decision I’ve ever made! But you can see how I’ve had to consider a wide range of options available to me to make money. It literally is a business, not a loosy goosy way to rock out, do whatever you want, and answer to know one. You should take it seriously and not lightly. When you are your own boss (as you will be as a music entrepreneur) then you have to have the discipline and business sense to cover your ass and line up enough work to succeed. I’m blunt about this because you need to know this going in! If you can’t take it seriously then there is still money to be made part-time (you’ll get what you put in) but being a music entrepreneur requires more commitment to really reap the benefits of this life (This paragraph was brought to you by Captain Buzzkill)!
Real talk guys, it is a fun life. You do rock out, you do spend most of your time doing whatever you want, and you generally don’t answer to too many people. You answer to yourself though, and if you don’t approach this business properly then it will be you that you are letting down! It is all about positioning and it really isn’t that hard. It just isn’t THAT obvious if you’ve never done it or haven’t got the time in OR connections with the local music scene.
My next few blogs will expand upon the idea of positioning yourself for success in this business. That means doing stuff that will make it easy to shift your life towards a life as a pro musician. My tips and tricks will be designed to give you things you can start doing immediately to get you closer to your goal of being a successful music entrepreneur. Practicability and applicability are everything to me. My future content (which btw is coming very soon) will also give you insights as to what this life looks like. I’ll talk about the pros, the cons, how to overcome obstacles, and how to kill it in this business. I’ll show you the life you are considering and give you the confidence to make your mind up for yourself…Is this “Monkey business” for you?
Image courtesy of Ron Pereux, Dec 2012)