Do you want to start a music business? Working for yourself can be an amazing way to make money.
However, you need to consider a few steps. That way, you can set up your business in a way that works for you.
Before we get into the steps, this post contains affiliate links. Read my full disclosure policy to learn more.
Compare Music Business Ideas
Before you can start a music business, you need a good idea. You can use social media or Google to figure out what other musicians are doing. Take a look at what some people you admire are promoting.
Some common music businesses include a private lesson studio, a solo or chamber performer, and a composer taking commissions. Yes, even if it’s just you, you can have a business doing standard music gigs.
If none of those interest you, you can also pursue other businesses. For example, I started a blogging business with a focus on music. Or maybe you like editing audio, so you go into music production. Do what works for you!
Think About Your Personality
As you look into different music businesses, you may find one or two that sound perfect for you. However, you also need to think about your personality and what kind of working schedule you want.
For example, I thought I wanted to teach flute lessons full-time. After teaching for a while, I realized that I didn’t like scheduling my time like that. I like to wake up and change my routine, and I need that since I have multiple chronic illnesses.
Blogging about music (and other topics) has given me that flexibility. Yes, I still have deadlines, but I can take a day off if I need to. And I can work earlier or later in the day than I originally planned if I need to.
You might like the schedule of a private teacher. Or maybe you enjoy traveling, so you want to go into the world of giving concerts. Everyone’s different, so it’s important to consider what works for you.
Decide If You Want a Partner
Another important step in how to start a music business is considering if you want to do it alone or with someone. I had a short-lived business with a friend, and that business ruined our friendship.
But if you work with someone who shares your values and goals, it can work out. Just make sure you have a long talk about your business plans. Then, you can decide if working together is smart or not.
Having a business partner can be great. You can divide the work and potentially grow faster. However, there’s nothing wrong with starting your business by yourself. If you change your mind, you can find a partner later.
Try Different Things
I’ve tried multiple different music business ideas over the years. As I mentioned, I had a private lesson studio. I also got a couple of performing gigs, which were fine but not ideal for me as a full-time business.
More recently, I thought I was going to want to focus on arranging and composing music. However, I’ve lost interest in all of those things. What’s more, my interest in blogging has stayed steady.
Finally, I’m starting to see that as a sign that I should focus on blogging. But I’m glad I tried those other things and learned they weren’t for me. So try a few different business ideas, and don’t be afraid to pivot.
Get Some Equipment
When you’re ready to start your music business, you need to invest in stuff. You may already have a good instrument, which is important. But you might need to upgrade to a better laptop, like a new MacBook Pro.
If you want to record music, you’ll also need a good microphone. And if you want to teach online, you’ll need a nice camera and video chat software. For composing, you’ll need good sheet music notation software.
You can go back to Google or social media. Find some other musicians with similar businesses to yours, and see what they’re posting. Consider if their posts have any equipment in the frame, and use that as inspiration for what you should buy.
Learn Business Basics
As musicians, we hardly get any business training in college. I didn’t get to take a single business class; the closest was economics. More colleges are starting to teach business, which is great.
But if you didn’t get to learn business in school, learn it now. You can follow tons of blogs and YouTube channels for free tips. If you have some money to invest, you can also buy online courses.
Either way, learn as much as you can about marketing and accounting. Then, you can apply those skills to your business. I didn’t know much when I first started my music business, but I’ve learned a lot, and it’s helped.
Choose a Name
Next, you’ll want to choose a name for your music business. If it’s just you, you can use your name. I did that for a newer blog that I started about blogging.
But you can also come up with a name based on your niche or location. I used my flute playing to name this website and blog. Plus, my last name is hard to spell, so I wanted something easy.
If you’re going to start a local business, like a lesson studio, you could include your city. Of course, the risk with this is that you’d need to change your name if you decide to move.
Be sure to talk about the name with any business partners. You can also run a few ideas by other musicians. Then, you can figure out what name speaks to you and your ideal customers.
Set Up a Website
Once you have a name in mind, you should register the domain for it. I’d recommend going for a domain that ends in .com. It’s easy for people to remember, and it’s pretty cheap.
You’ll also want to pay for hosting. I’ve used SiteGround since 2016, and I really love it. They have cheap plans, so you don’t have to spend a ton of money to get your website up and running.
With SiteGround, I’m able to use WordPress for all of my blogs. It’s super easy to set up and use. There’s a small learning curve, but it’s becoming easier and more flexible every year.
Start Using Social Media
You’ll also want to get started with social media. There are a ton of different platforms that you can choose from. The best platform will depend on your specific music business.
For example, I’ve found Facebook and Pinterest to be great for my blogging. But if you’re a performer, YouTube might work better for you. A lot of musicians also use Instagram or TikTok.
I’ve been taking a break from it, but I think Instagram can be powerful for building your brand and community. If you want to learn more about that platform, the Instagram Marketing and Sales Academy is great.
Draft a Business Plan
Another important step in how to start a music business is to write a business plan. You don’t need to make it super long or complex. Just write out how you plan to make money and how you plan to promote your business.
Unless you want to get investors, you don’t have to show your business plan to anyone. But you can keep a copy on hand for whenever you’re feeling stressed or uninspired.
Refer back to your plan for ideas on how to grow your business. Then, you may figure out how to get over the slump and get back on track. You can find a free template online or in Word or Google Docs.
Start Getting Work
Now, you’re ready to launch your music business. If you’re opening a teaching studio, you’ll need to get a few students. Performers will need to start finding performance gigs.
Depending on your business, “work” may look very different. For me, it’s a combination of writing blogs for clients and writing articles for my own blogs. If you teach, you’ll have to give lessons and handle scheduling issues.
Composers may spend time writing music, finding commission clients, and self-publishing their scores. Music journalists may pitch their article ideas to publications, interview sources, and write.
Diversify Your Income
After you start a music business, you can get your main thing going. Then, you can find other income streams to add. For me, this mean building a few blogs that I can monetize with ads and affiliate links.
If you’re a private teacher, you may use affiliate links. That way, when your students need more music or a new instrument, you can earn a commission for helping them.
Composers might self-publish digital and print music as well as work with a traditional publisher. And performers might record albums that they can sell so that they don’t only have to do live gigs.
Is It Hard to Start a Music Business?
Starting a music business is an excellent option, but it can be hard at first. You have to figure out what you want to do and if there’s a need for it.
Once you set up your services or products and your routine, it gets much easier.
Can Anyone Start a Music Business?
Any musician can start a business, but that doesn’t mean everyone should. You have to be very self-disciplined to work for yourself.
Of course, to start a music business, you should also have some experience with music.
What Are Some Good Music Business Ideas?
Some good music businesses include:
- Private teaching
- Audio recording or editing
If you want to make money from your music, you should start a music business. Then, you can have control over your time and do what you enjoy.
There are a lot of routes you can go, so consider your situation. And don’t be afraid to experiment with different business ideas to see what you like.