Do you want to work in the music world? You should consider a few music business ideas.
Sure, you can find a traditional job, but they’re few and far between. Starting a business can be a great alternative.
Before we get into the ideas, this post contains affiliate links. Read my full disclosure policy to learn more.
One of the most obvious music business ideas revolves around being a solo performer. You can give your own concerts locally or tour around the country or world performing.
Maybe you solo with orchestras, or you simply play solo music for your instrument. Now, this can be a hard business to get into. You have to be one of the beset players of your instrument, and you may also need a lot of money.
Consider a few different types of solo performance businesses, including some with a lower barrier to entry.
A lot of us know of the concert soloist: the musician who tours around giving performances. Some play with orchestras, while others play with a pianist or some other collaborative musicians.
As a flute player, people like James Galway and Jean-Pierre Rampal come to my mind as examples. This can be a great business if you want to see the world and play with all sorts of groups.
However, it’s also very expensive unless you have someone else to fund your travels. You also need to spend a lot of time practicing to get to a high level of proficiency on your instrument.
Another option to consider is being a wedding or event musician. You can play during wedding ceremonies, such as when the wedding party walks up or down the aisle.
Or maybe you decide to focus on something like birthday parties or corporate events. You could even perform at multiple types of gigs. As a soloist, you only have to consider your own schedule when taking work.
Plus, if you live in a big enough city, you won’t have to travel much. That means you can still settle down somewhere and enjoy life outside of your music business.
One of my favorite music business ideas for performers is remote recording. If we learned anything from the pandemic, it’s that the internet is a great place to look for work to provide a bit of extra stability.
Remote recording is an excellent way to perform without ever leaving home. You can record a part on your instrument for bands that want to add a flute, for example. Or you could record melodies for composers who want to hear their music love.
To get started with this, I’d suggest setting up a website and posting recordings of yourself on social media. You’ll also want to get a good microphone that you can use to record audio at home.
If you play one or more woodwinds, consider learning even more. You can become a woodwind specialist or doubler. Probably the most common place you’ll find work is in musical theatre pits.
However, you could also work as a soloist and play at events. The more instruments you can offer, the more clients may want to book you. Then, you could switch between instruments as the event calls for it.
Now, this may be more of a career and less of a business. But you can use your skills playing flute, clarinet, sax, and double reeds to your advantage. Then, you could get more work to help support yourself.
Maybe you don’t like performing alone. In that case, a better music business would be to start a chamber group. Your group could be as small as a duo or as large as an octet or even larger.
Similar to a solo career, you can pitch your group to venues to get gigs. You could perform primarily in your local area or go on tour.
Now, the trouble with a chamber group can be the instrumentation. Unless you form a standard group, like a string quartet, you may need to arrange a lot of the music you play.
Another chamber music business you can start is a wedding or event band. Like a soloist, you can focus on weddings, corporate events, or other parties. You could even experiment with all three to see what you enjoy.
If this interests you, you’ll want to pitch yourself to other wedding and event vendors. Then, they can start to refer clients to you. So if a wedding planner gets a client, they can tell their client about your band.
Of course, this type of group may require a specific instrumentation. If you want to be more like a band, you’ll probably want guitar, drums, and piano. But you could also be a string quartet or wind quintet and find relevant gigs.
Educational performance is a relatively new and uncommon business idea. My band director from high school is a drummer who takes drums from all over the world and performs for young audiences.
If you want to teach and perform, this can be a great business. You can pitch your services to local and regional schools. Then, you could be the guest for an assembly.
Another option is to work with libraries and community centers. You can help teach the entire community about your instrument or chamber group.
Private Lesson Teaching
Along with performance, many musicians think of private teaching as a potential business idea. This is where you teach individual lessons to students who want to learn to play your instrument.
You can offer lessons in person and focus on local students. To do that, you can teach from home. But if your apartment lease doesn’t allow that, you can rent a studio or drive to students’ homes.
Of course, the pandemic also opened many teachers up to the world of virtual lessons. These are great if you like working from home or if you live in a small town. You can teach people from all over the world.
In a lot of cases, private lessons refer to one-on-one. However, you can also offer small group lessons to two to five students at a time. This can be a great way to teach more people without working more.
You can also get away with charing each student a bit less but also making slightly more per hour. For example, you may charge $50 for a private hour lesson. But maybe you charge $30 per student for a group lesson. Two students equals $60.
Of course, you should group people together based on their playing level. That way, you can more easily teach new concepts. Group lessons can be great for beginners for that reason.
If you’re passionate about early childhood music education, consider a music business surrounding that. You could obtain certification through the Musikgarten or Kindermusik programs.
Then, you’ll be able to teach classes using those methods. A lot of these classes are for toddlers. You can take the training courses for the types of classes you want to offer.
After you finish your training, you can start marketing off your new classes to local parents. Since this program is for young kids, it doesn’t work as well online. But you can teach out of your own home or find a studio space.
When starting an online course based business you need to be careful. There are a lot of scammy courses out there that don’t provide any value. However, you can make sure your courses are useful.
You can create a course for beginners of your instrument. Then, you can sell the course on your website or a platform like Udemy. Whenever someone signs up for your course, you’ll make a bit of money.
Some online courses are live, while others are prerecorded. You can usually get away with charging more for a live course or a course with live support. But a prerecorded course can eventually become semi-passive income.
If you want to learn about creating something like a course, consider taking Pocket Products. It’s perfect for smaller digital offers.
Maybe you have a successful private studio, but you want to grow. One of the best music business ideas for you is to start a music academy. You can partner with other teachers or hire them as contractors.
Then, you can market your school to more parents. Plus, you can hire people who teach instruments that you don’t to expand your market. As with a solo studio, you can teach online.
To teach in person, you’ll almost always need to rent a studio. But you could also focus on in-home lessons. Then, teachers drive to where their students are, and you can charge a premium for that convenience.
Another one of the more traditional music business ideas is composition. If you majored in composition or simply like it, start composing music.
You can get commissions from classical performers. Then, you’ll charge a set rate or a rate based on the length of the piece. Your client will pay you a decent chunk of money, so this can be fairly lucrative.
Another option is to compose jingles and other commercial music. You can also get paid from clients. But it can be a nice change from writing classical works since they can be quite long whereas jingles are usually short.
If you don’t particularly enjoy writing music from scratch, you can be an arranger. You could work with composers who don’t like arranging, and you can help them make their piece as good as it can be.
Another option is to offer arrangement commissions. Then, you’d arrange works in the public domain for clients. You’d charge them a flat rate, and you can deliver the score and a recording.
If you don’t want to work with clients, you can arrange what you want. Then, you can sell it online through self-publishing platforms. Of course, you’ll have to make a lot of sales to make good money.
Maybe you’re really good at making sheet music look pretty. Consider starting an engraving service. You can work with composers who have a rough draft but don’t want to do all of the editing themselves.
Of course, you’ll need professional notation software. You should also offer previews of scores you’ve engraved. That way, people will know they can trust you to make their music look amazing.
Sometimes, people want to learn music but can’t find it notated. In that case, they could hire a music transcriber. If you have a good ear, you can get into this work.
You’ll need to listen to a recording multiple times. Then, you can notate the pitch and rhythms as you listen. It’s a good option for people with perfect pitch or good relative pitch.
You can charge per minute of audio to transcribe. Or you could charge per hour of your time, especially if you work slowly.
Sheet Music Publishing
Another one of the best music business ideas for composers and arrangers is to publish sheet music. You can sell your music on a platform such as Sheet Music Plus and Sheet Music Direct. I do this through the ArrangeMe program.
You can also sell digital sheet music on your website with a plugin like Easy Digital Downloads. The plugin or platform will take care of sending the files to buyers, so you don’t have to do much work.
If you want to also sell print sheet music, you can do that. You’ll need to use a plugin like WooCommerce or a platform like Shopify. That way, you can sell physical items that you ship to customers.
One of my favorite music business ideas is music journalism. It’s a pretty new field, but you can take this business or career in many directions.
Yes, you can start a business and work for yourself. But you can also look for a staff writing job for more stability.
Either way, consider some other businesses that fall under this category.
If you enjoy writing, you can pitch stories to various publications. You can focus on writing about music rather than just whatever. A publication will pay for any story it accepts, but this is a numbers game.
The more you pitch, the more chances you’ll have of getting accepted to write for someone. When you get a writing gig, make sure you do your best writing the piece.
If you do a good job, the editor might ask you to write more in the future. You may not even need to pitch a story idea.
A more specific type of music journalist is the role of a music critic. Instead of writing just any story about music, you focus on reviews. You can review concerts, albums, or other things.
Depending on what you want to review, you may need to travel. Or you could focus on local publications to pitch stories to. Then, you can stay in town and go to concerts in the area.
Of course, albums are easy to listen to no matter where you are. Like general journalists, you may work as a freelancer.
My current business is that of a music blogger. It’s similar to journalism in that I do a lot of writing. But I write for the internet, and I write more informational articles than news stories.
You can write about anything from the best instrument models to tips for beginners of your instrument. Or you could blog about industry topics, such as recording or composing.
You could set up your own WordPress blog with a professional theme. Then, you can make money from ads and affiliate sales. If you want to make more money sooner, you could write for clients with music blogs.
Content creation businesses aren’t unique to the music world. But you can become a creator with music as your niche. You can post content to various social platforms, from Instagram to YouTube.
I’d recommend also setting up a blog because you own it. You can refer your social followers to your website for more content. Relying only on third-party platforms means you could lose your business if they shut down.
But content creation is a great option for anyone on a budget. You could start an Instagram account today and use your current phone to take photos and videos. As your following grows, you can promote affiliate products or get brand deals.
Consider using a tool like Later to help plan and schedule your content. That way, you can spend time growing other music business ideas as well.
A more recent type of music business revolves around music therapy. Not many colleges offer this major, but it’s slowly becoming more common. You can also do a music therapy program after you finish college to get the specific credits you need.
As a music therapist, you work with clients of all ages. You use music to help them cope with whatever’s going on.
The nice thing about music therapy is you can start your own practice or work for others, which is nice if you don’t want to run a business. Either way, you can work in person or even virtually.
Musical Instrument Repair
We almost always need more musical instrument repair technicians. You’ll need to do an apprenticeship or take a course on repair. After that, you can invest in some tools and supplies.
Set up a shop in your home or lease a physical space. Then, you can have clients come to you with their instruments or ship them to you. You can work on any and all instruments.
Of course, this “business” also works as a traditional job. If you don’t want to work for yourself right now, you can work for a music store.
I know a lot of techs specialize. For example, you could work only on flutes or on woodwinds in general. Then, you can learn how those instruments work and how to fix them.
This is a popular choice because every instrument is different. You can keep up with the trends on, say, flute repair much more easily than all instruments.
You could also start a music business where you make instruments. The term “luthier” usually refers to string instruments. So you could make violins, violas, and cellos.
However, you could also start making flutes, piccolos, or other woodwinds. A good way to get into this is to get a job working for an instrument maker.
Then, you can learn the craft. Once you get experience, you can buy the supplies you need, and you can start to make your own instruments. Just make sure you don’t copy your former employer because you need your models to be unique.
Music Store Owner
If you’re good at sales, another excellent music business you can start is a music store. You can lease a brick-and-mortar space where you house instruments, accessories, and sheet music.
Now, you’ll need to set operating hours, and this is one of few music business ideas that requires employees. You can’t run the store all by yourself, especially if you don’t want to work seven days a week.
However, it’s a great option if there are no other music stores near you. You could fill that need, and you can start a rental program to help local students.
eCommerce Music Store Owner
A more accessible option to starting a music store is to do it online. You can set up a website and invest in some inventory that you sell to customers.
You’ll need space to store your inventory and some startup capital. However, you don’t need to rent a retail space. you can work out of your home, which is great if you don’t like leaving the house.
Plus, you can process and ship orders when you have time (as long as you do so soon after an order is placed). You also don’t have to worry about hiring employees until you start making a bit of money.
Once this business gets going, you can expand into a retail location or not.
Music Accessory Company
If you have an idea for a new accessory, turn that into a business. An excellent example of this is the Win-D-Fender. They started with that one product and have made a couple of other products for flute players.
Or maybe you don’t want to reinvent the wheel. You could make cleaning cloths or other existing accessories for musicians. Just make sure you can tell customers what makes your business unique, such as your production process.
That will make it easier to convince people to buy from you instead of your competitors. To start getting sales, pitch your product to existing music shops. You can also list your products on Amazon to get your first few customers.
There are tons of music business ideas out there. Most musicians should be able to find at least one idea that appeals to them.
Whether you want to perform, teach, or do something else, consider a few ideas. Then, you can do the research to see if there’s a need for your idea.
To help get your new music business off the ground and make money, take the Instagram Marketing and Sales Academy.