As a musician, you may think of yourself as creative and NOT a business person. But you need business tools to help run your career and get work done. That way, you can make a living from your craft.
Whether you’re a performer, private teacher, or something else, these business tools are essential. Even if you find alternatives, you need something from each category.
(A quick note: this post contains affiliate links. Click here for my full disclosure policy.)
Without further ado, here are some of my favorite business tools for musicians!
One of the most important business tools for musicians is a website builder. I use WordPress, which is the most common and most flexible. You can use WordPress to write pages, blogs, and build a career/business.
While it does have a bit of a learning curve, it’s much better than options like Wix or Squarespace. With WordPress, you can do whatever you want, and there are plugins for almost anything.
However, Wix and Squarespace have a lot of limitations. They don’t have as many apps to customize your site, and you can’t keep backups of your site as easily.
If you decide to use WordPress, you’ll need a third-party host. While you can use WordPress.com, it has a lot of restrictions. But using WordPress.org (the software) allows you to use any hosting company you want.
I’ve been using SiteGround for about five years, and they’re great. My site rarely goes down, and it’s usually up quickly if it does go down. The customer support team is also helpful when I have questions or issues.
SiteGround and other WordPress hosts have different pricing tiers. You can start building your site for a few dollars a month. And you can upgrade for more services as needed. I currently pay $12 per month for hosting.
Of course, you also need business tools so that people can pay you. While you can take cash or checks for in-person work, a lot of stuff has moved online during the pandemic. And even if you will work in person in the future, online payments are convenient.
PayPal is an excellent option because your clients or customers don’t need an account to pay you. You can either create an invoice or request the money. And when selling products on your website, you can connect those to PayPal.
Stripe is another popular payment gateway, it offers similar services to PayPal. However, you’ll need to pay fees when using either service. But it’s worth it for the convenience and security of your payment.
QuickBools Self-Employed is another one of my must-have business tools. Once someone pays you, you can log the transaction. And you can use QuickBooks to track business expenses and estimate self-employment taxes.
You can even use QuickBooks to pay your quarterly taxes. That way, you can keep track of that spending throughout the year. And you can make sure you don’t miss any deadlines.
If you connect your bank account, it can add transactions for you. And you can categorize business and personal transactions. However, this isn’t the best option if people pay you through PayPal and you don’t transfer the money immediately.
I was able to get my subscription for free because I use TurboTax to file my taxes. But you can pay about $15 a month, which I still think is worth it.
Another one of the business tools I use every day is Trello. It’s a project management tool that allows me to keep track of what I’m working on. You can create boards for different income streams or projects.
Each board has lists, and lists have cards. Cards can be individual tasks, blog posts, social posts, or whatever you want. I have a board for my client work, an admin board, and boards for blog and social content.
If you have a chamber group or some other project that you do with others, you can add them to the board to collaborate. That way, you can make sure everyone is on the same page.
I use the free version of Trello, and it works for me. But you can pay to get more features to help customize your boards. That way, you can use it in a way that works best for you.
Another essential tool is Canva, and it’s perfect for those of us who aren’t graphic designers. You can use it to create graphics for your website or social media. And you can even design a basic logo in Canva.
It’s also a great option if you want to create digital downloads, like eBooks or workbooks. And you can use Canva as an alternative to PowerPoint if you ever need to design and give a presentation.
If you work with others, you can add them to your account to collaborate. You can create a team with Canva Pro. And even with the free version, you can share the design via email so that others can view or edit it.
I’ll be honest and say that I haven’t been the most consistent on social media. But I still love having a social media scheduling tool, like Later. With Later, I can upload media, write captions, and store groups of hashtags.
And I can schedule the post to go out at a certain day and time, all for free. If you pay for Later, you can also get hashtag suggestions and schedule even more content per month.
Later has both a desktop site and a mobile app, so you can create and schedule content anywhere. So far, the free version has been great. I can use it for Instagram, Pinterest, Facebook, and Twitter.
Another essential business tool is a cloud storage plan, like iCloud. I use Apple devices, so iCloud makes the most sense for me. But you can use any cloud service that you like as long as you can store and access files.
That way, you don’t have to email things back and forth when you want to use a different device. And you can send someone a link to the file rather than emailing them, so they can view or edit it.
Even if you have a non-Apple device, you can use the iCloud website. That way, you can still access all of your files. This is one tool that I pay for, and I believe I pay a few dollars a month to get up to 200 GB of storage.
Another excellent cloud service that has other features is Google Drive. You can use it to store and access files, but you can also create files. Google Docs is great for creating documents, and I use it with a few of my clients and for some of my own projects.
Like any other cloud solution, you can use it for free with limited storage. If you need more space, you can upgrade accordingly.
But the biggest benefit of using Google Drive is access to Docs, Sheets, and Presentations. It’s more affordable than having to pay for Microsoft Office, which can be expensive once you lose your student discount.
If you do any virtual teaching, meetings, or presentations, you should use Zoom or another video conferencing program. Zoom is probably the most popular, and it offers a lot of features for free.
However, you may need to upgrade if you want to offer group classes over 40 minutes long. That’s the time limit on meetings with more than two people. But if you only offer private lessons, you don’t need to pay.
Other video chat options include FaceTime, Skype, Google Hangouts, and Google Meet. Each of them have free versions, so you don’t need to pay extra.
If you need to give out your phone number but don’t want to give your personal number, I’d suggest using Google Voice. It’s free, and you can get a number to use without needing a second phone.
You can make and receive calls and texts just as you would with your normal phone number. But you don’t have to worry about people getting a hold of your number and sending you spam or other messages.
I’ve used a Google Voice number for a little over a year, and it’s been great. I got the number before I signed up with Stripe, which requires a number to include on customer invoices. It’s a useful option for many people who work online.
Whether you want to build a private studio or some other type of music business, you should have an email list. You can send a newsletter each week or each month and include updates on what you’re doing.
The people who join your email list tend to be more interested in working with you than the average person who follows you or visits your site. Whenever you have a new product or service to launch, you can promote it to your list.
While there are tons of options out there, I’ve used Mailchimp for a few years. It’s not perfect, but it’s pretty good for a free program. And you can have up to 2,000 subscribers before you have to pay.
If you decide to set up a mailing list through Mailchimp or another program, you need to give a physical address. It’s not just a requirement of those programs but by LAW.
And like Google Voice, Viabox lets you get a real address that you can get mail at, so you don’t have to share where you live. This is great if you work from home and don’t have an office to use.
Viabox is free, so you don’t have to pay a monthly fee like for a P.O. Box or some other service. You only need to pay when you get mail. And so far, I haven’t received mail at my Viabox address.
What Business Tools Do You Use?
Working as a musician can be great because you can do something you enjoy. But you need some business tools to stay organized and collect payment. That way, you can keep working as a musician.
Do you use any business tools that I didn’t mention? Share your favorite tools in the comments!