Building a successful music career requires dedication. This means you need to be willing to roll up your sleeves and work hard. And, this applies to both the creative and business sides of your career.
It’s easy to get wrapped up in the creative side. Making music and playing for fans is the goal. But, you’ll also have to spend time dealing with the business aspects of your career. This is especially true if you’re working without a music manager.
The following DIY steps will help point you in the right direction. These are simple steps that every DIY indie artist should use when planning their career without a music manager.
#1 – Establish a Business
The first step is to separate your personal life from your professional life. You should open a separate checking account for your music career. Keep your earning and expenses separated from your personal earnings and expenses.
Additionally, filling out a DBA (doing business as) or registering as an LLC (limited liability corporation) can be helpful. An LLC is a common choice if you’re part of a band. For solo acts, a DBA form filed at your local county clerk’s office should work.
This step sets you up as a business. This is a professional step and will simplify the handling of band finances.
#2 – Create a Business Plan
Dealing with the business side of things requires you to treat your music career like a business. So, you’ll need a business plan.
Here’s some info on creating a business plan. The following video is a general video for small business owners. But, remember, you should treat your music career like a business:
You don’t need a fully outlined business plan. You’re not going to take your business plan to a bank to get a business loan. But, you should put thought into this outline.
The business plan is just that. It’s an outline of your plans, goals, and the strategies that you’re going to use to reach your goals.
Speaking of goals – decide on your long term and short term goals.
Long term goals might include getting a record deal or recording and releasing your first album. Breaking these long-term goals into smaller steps can help you come up with a handful of short term goals.
For example, before you reach the point that you can accomplish your long-term goals, you’re going to need to grow your fan base. So, some short-term goals might include:
- Reach 100,000 total social media followers
- Average $2000 a month in earnings
- Build a professional website
- Increase online earnings by 200%
Short term goals are goals that you can reasonably obtain in 12 months or less. With effort, you can reach 100,000 total followers on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. By increasing your earnings and growing your fan base, you can earn a comfortable living with your music.
#3 – List Your Revenue Streams
Next, make a list of your revenue streams. These are your sources of income, such as your pay from playing a show. Here are some examples:
- Payment from gigs and live performances
- Merchandise sales – at shows and online
- Album sales – both physical and digital
- Music licensing
Any income source related to your music should be included in this list. This list is how you’re going to make a living.
Start keeping track of your earnings from each income stream. You can use a spreadsheet to keep the data organized. If you don’t have a spreadsheet program on your computer, then use Google Sheets. This is available through Google Drive.
Each month, you should review your spreadsheet and make sure that data is updated. Keep track of how much you’re making from each revenue stream. This is where you’ll be able to find room for improvement.
If you’re earning consistent pay from playing live shows, but aren’t making any money from your website, then you know what you need to focus on.
#4 – Improve Your Metrics
By increasing your earnings from just one revenue stream, you increase your overall earnings. So, determine which area you need to focus on and try to improve just one metric.
For example, if you need to improve your online earnings, then focus on your conversion rates or your total traffic. Make this your sole marketing focus until you’ve reached a specific goal – such as doubling your conversion rates or traffic.
After you’ve reached one of these mini-goals, then start focusing on a different area.
When you have a single focus, it’s easier to reach strategies and techniques for helping you reach your goals – instead of trying to do everything at once.
#5 – Learn the Business
The final step is an ongoing process. You need to keep learning the music business. Think of each opportunity as a learning experience.
These steps are just an outline of the steps that you should be taking to advance your career. It’s a basic structure that can help you put things in perspective.
When you’re in charge of booking gigs, recording music, and selling merchandise, it’s useful to have a plan in place. And, you want to know if you’re making progress. Having a business plan and setting goals will help.
Remember to diversify your revenue streams and look for ways to reach your target market. In addition to these tips, you can learn more with our guide – music management for indie artists!