If you have an ‘ethical’ issue with finding the best ways to earn money in your music career, do not read any further. Simply leave the page now.
Now, for those of you who are still with me, let’s talk about improving your music career by making a good living. Fact is, the majority of musicians out there are not making very much money with music. This is because they do not believe that they can make enough money with music to support themselves. That said, these people tend to work much less on their music, and much more in their full time day job. As a music business mentor, I have seen this common scenario occur countless times.

In reality, making A LOT of money in the music business is not as hard as it might seem (and is NOT something reserved for rock stars only), however, if you want to achieve this for yourself you will need to think with an alternate mindset than most musicians.

Not only must you consider yourself as a musician, but you must also think with an entrepreneurial mindset and take consistent action to further your career. Basically, your music career must be treated in a business-like manner where your “service” is all the things you can offer to music companies, record labels, promoters, fans, and other people in the music industry.

The reason why so many musicians do not make much money with music is because they are not aware that music is a business (and needs to be treated as such). These people fail because they are not mentally ready to achieve great things in the music industry. Find out how prepared you are to reach success in music by taking this short assessment on building success in the music business. Important: Finish this assessment first, before reading the rest of this article.

Besides not being prepared to achieve success in the business side of music, many musicians fail to make a decent income in their careers because they make the following mistakes:

Not Having Solid Goals And Ways To Reach Them

To earn a good living in the music industry, you MUST develop a specific plan for how you will reach your goals. If you merely fantasize about making a lot of money, this is not enough to make this goal a reality. Rather than fantasizing, start working toward what you want to achieve by asking yourself the following questions:

  1. What is your desired yearly income from your music career?
  2. What are the sources of musical income that will make the amount in question 1 possible?
  3. What are the steps you must take to set up these sources of income? (Read this article about planning a music career to learn about building multiple sources of income.)
  4. How many ways can you ADD VALUE to your interactions with people in the music business? (Think of every possibility!)
  5. How many ways can you eliminate risk for other people in the music business?

After you have figured out your answers for each question above, you must focus on making every action you take in your music career go toward achieving the exact goals you have made for yourself.

Most musicians looking to become successful in the music business are not sure what they must do to reach their desired goals. If you are experiencing this as well, the best solution to this problem is to seek out training from a professional who has shown other musicians how to earn a lot of money in their careers. This way, you can avoid making mistakes that will cost you significant time and effort to fix.

Confusing “Being Popular” With “Earning A Lot Of Money In The Music Industry”

You don’t need to be touring in an internationally known rock band in order to make a great living in your music career. The reality is that even some famous bands include band members who are working regular jobs to make a living. It is important to understand this point so that you can place priorities on achieving your goals in the most effective way possible. Obviously there are musicians who have achieved both popularity and great financial stability, however you should prioritize your efforts to reach your goals in the most effective way possible.

Not Properly Identifying Who You Are Marketing To

After you understand the value you are ready to offer in the music business, you must know WHO you are going to give it to. For instance, if you are ready to put out your new album, or create a new instructional service or product on your website, who are the people that are going to purchase it? Do you have a way to get in touch with these people? If not, what steps are you taking now to build a database of your fans/customers? If your goal is to work as a session musician, have you already spent time to write down all the musicians, studios, and bands that might be looking for someone to work with? What are you going to do today to get the attention of your potential customers?

If you are at all like the majority of musicians, you likely have not invested much time into determining who your market is. As a result, here is what is likely to happen: you spend a lot of time and energy to create music or instructional products, but don’t make much money from your musical efforts since you don’t already have a database of customers who are willing to buy what you have to offer.

Since this is such a major factor for success in music business careers, I spend a great deal of time showing musicians in my music business mentoring program how to build a database and use it to make a good living in music.

You might believe that being signed with a music company means that you do not need to work to promote yourself, build a list of fans, or find ways to earn money. However, in reality these companies are not responsible for your music career, and will not do this for you. The key to achieving success and earning a lot of money in the music industry is for YOU to take action and build your database. This way all your customers/fans are controlled by you.

Not Working To Continually Add Value To Others In The Music Business

There is one very important concept to understand if you are going to pursue a career in music. Whether you are a touring musician, music teacher, producer, session player, songwriter, or are involved in any other occupation, the people who will pay you money to work with you will need to have a reason to pick you from the thousands of other musicians following the same path. At first, this may seem pretty hopeless, but in reality the amount of competition you face is not a major factor. Why is this? Fact is, most musicians are too busy focusing on their musical skills while not focusing on building as much “value” around themselves as possible. Your musical skills (no matter how great they may be) are only ONE element of “value”. The other elements (that most musicians do not focus on) include your work ethic, temperament, business savvy and reliability just to name a few. To make yourself the absolute best choice to work together with a music company, you must work to build up a massive amount of value so that any of the musicians competing against you will pale in comparison. This means that when a music company considers working with you, it must be OBVIOUS that there is no other choice.

Right now you may be thinking that this is a simple concept to understand (and you are right!). However, in spite of this, the overwhelming majority of musicians do not take action to do this in their music careers on a daily basis. To see if you are taking enough action in this area of your music career, fill out this quick assessment about value in the music industry. As long as you have the ability to continually add high amounts of value for anyone in the music business, you will have great potential to make a lot of money. It is for this reason that I train all of the musicians in my music industry mentoring program to develop a mindset for adding value within everything they do.

Not Establishing Multiple Sources Of Music Related Income

Almost all musicians enter into the music business with the same mindset they have used while looking for a regular job. This means they only expect to make a single source of income from touring or releasing music albums.

Of course, there is nothing wrong with this approach to making money. However, relying “only” on these avenues is very limiting and makes it difficult to continually make a comfortable living as a musician. Fortunately, it is quite simple to create many different sources of income for yourself that add up to give you a very stable and sustainable career in the music business. No matter what your main goal is in the music industry, whether it be touring in a band, selling albums, producing records, etc…you will need to have various sources that are bringing in money for you in both passive and active ways. By having multiple sources of income, you will gain a lot of security and won’t need to rely on a single income stream to make a living.

Final Thoughts

There are a lot of musicians who think that making good money from their musical talents is “wrong” or “deceptive” in some way. These people think that it is only important to continue improving their musical skills. Although improving as a musician is clearly important, if you’d like to have the freedom to make music for a living, you will also need to invest your time into improving upon the business side of your music career. This way you won’t need to work a dead end ‘day job’ just to make ends meet.

Even though there is no way to predict (in a single article) the specific path you must take to make a great living in the music industry, if you avoid the mistakes mentioned here you will be much more likely to achieve financial freedom in your music career. The good news is that when you do start making a stable living as a professional musician, you will be able to spend more time on that which drew you to the music industry in the first place: making music.

If you haven’t yet taken the music business assessment tests mentioned in this article about building success in the music business and value in the music industry I encourage you to do so now.

Author's Bio: 

About The Author:

Tom Hess is a recording artist, composer and a touring musician. He plays guitar in the band Rhapsody Of Fire. Tom also trains and mentors musicians from all over the world on how to get into the music industry. Visit his website tomhess.net to get free music business tips and to read more articles about the music business.