By Kerry Oliver, Rock the Dream

Each year thousands of bands and artists join the music industry, performing and recording; however, less than 1% achieve success beyond the local scene.  Why?

Some have terrible music and shouldn’t be in the industry at all, but most are missing the business element, which is crucial to their success. What is the first thing a major label does when signing an artist? Turn them into a company, hopefully a profitable one.

Without the business factor, how do you book shows effectively? Create profitable merch booths? Successfully market your brand? Take it from the big guys, to reach that national touring level and a chance for fame, an artist must master the business side.

To begin with, decide if you wish to be an LLC company or partnership. Lots of things to consider in making this choice, so do your research. You will need to get an Employer ID number from the IRS, and check into your state requirements. Also, remember you must file your taxes each year. This all sounds horrible. Who would want to do this? The good news is, it will take about an hour of your time to set this baseline for your business. 

Next, create a budget which outlines your income, and then defines your expenses. Can’t spend what you don’t have. If you find yourself short, like everyone else, it’s time to increase your income. I suggest you establish 2 sources of income. One, from your shows and music, such as performance guarantees, merch sales, song downloads, etc. And the other should not be music-related. 

An example would be fundraising efforts, such as car washing, yard cleaning, second-hand sales, etc. The main point is it shouldn’t come from your personal earnings. You will need that to live on. Climbing the music industry ladder takes a lot of money, about $1500 each month as you enter the regional touring round, so be prepared. The biggest source of discouragement is when you don’t have enough money to exist and still keep your artistry going; ergo, the fundraising element instead of digging in your own pocket.

Does it seem that Artists with managers reap the biggest achievements? It’s true because he/she is managing the entire business end. The professional industry takes these artists more seriously. They offer bigger shows, more money, better opportunities. Good managers communicate quickly, supply the info in the proper format, and the brand is promoted effectively.

What should you do next? Establish your target market, not more than 7 years for the age range. You don’t have enough money to to reach everyone, so you need to narrow it down. Then, create an image that fits your personality and music. Now take this information, and promote your image to reach this market.  

You will need an artist website; management email address using your website domain (never use gmail, yahoo, etc.);  a business checking account; four prime social media sites, including Facebook; and, a P.O. Box. Most industry professionals use Facebook as a research source.

Yes, this is A LOT of work, but these steps are necessary to separate you from the other 99.9% of the struggling artists in the world. And, once done, maintaining and updating is a breeze if you do it regularly. If you need help with all of this, email contact@rockthedream.org.

So, we go back to the original question, Why do most bands and artists fail? Now that you have the answer, it’s up to you to create your own success. 

Music Business | UCLA Continuing Education Online

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