I see a lot of independent musicians struggling to really make a solid living out of their talents, I was one of them until last year. Throughout last year I learnt one extremely important lesson when it came to actually making money from my music.
You MUST have a BUSINESS MINDSET! I know it sounds more complicated and scary than it actually is, I was put off this for ages but if you really want to start making money from something you love, you need to start treating your talent like a business.
The business mindset means making serious time and putting serious effort into your work and this means making sacrifices. I’m not going to sugarcoat anything about this, if you want to have a successful career in anything, you have to be dedicated to your craft and the demands it has. Let me put that more bluntly, if you’re not prepared to get in from gigs at 3am and then be prepared to wake up at 8am the next day to write about your gig, respond to emails and post photos, then you may as well stop. Sure, the life of an indie musician isn’t the most glamorous in the world, but believe me, it does get better if you’re prepared to put the work in!
Having said all of this, here is how I managed to finally get into the right frame of mind to start making a profit from my music.
I built my brand
Branding is everything when it comes to any form of business idea. The reason behind this is because brands are lot more memorable than names, hence why you see celebrities making perfumes, clothing lines, toys and so on. Because that way, they are everywhere and constantly on peoples minds. Now, I’m not saying I have a toy or a clothing line BUT I do still have a solid brand under the “Gary Cunningham Music” name.
Branding is another phrase that people are petrified of, especially musicians. The top one liner from the majority of indie musicians is “I’m a person, not a brand” there in lies mistake number one, and that one line has basically killed their chances of making money from the off!
I will write a more detailed post about how to build a solid brand in a later post but the bottom line is, you have to come up with something memorable and get it seen by as many people as possible.
I started charging for my performances (at a reasonable price)
This sounds like something is painfully obvious, like “the sky is blue” obvious. BUT shockingly, some people still don’t do this. They spend their musical days doing open mics and charity events! NOW I am not slating open mics OR charity events in the slightest, I support many charities and have various charity performances coming up.
What I am referring to, are the musicians that say they want to make money from their music but are just doing these sorts of events. I’m sorry but if you genuinely want to make money, you need to start looking further afield regarding performance opportunities. I very rarely do anything music wise for free these days, simply because I believe that I am working hard and investing my time into something just like every other business person around me is. This, again, is where the importance of a business mindset comes into play. KNOW YOUR WORTH PEOPLE!! If you don’t venues, managers, promoters, press, they’ll all walk all over you like you’re their own personal doormat!
If a potential client asks you to work for free, don’t be rude or unprofessional about it. Just politely remind them that you are running a business and trying to earn a living, if they are decent people, they’ll understand that. Those people that contest and explain that it’s for promotion, aren’t worth your time. Again, I’ll write another article about working for free in the coming weeks so be sure to keep an eye out.
I know this is quite a short article guys but every topic I’ve discussed today will be explained and broken down in more detail in future articles!
The one thing you should take away from this one though is that this is the music BUSINESS and it’s not called that for nothing!