A Band Is A Business!

What’s the key to longevity in the music business today?

Some may still believe that a recording deal is ‘the prize’, the ‘Holy’ Grail’, the one thing that’s going to make them rich and famous, and bring with it the recognition some crave. The unfortunate reality is, for most, it won’t.

They say everything changes over time, and the industry is simply not what it was. Recording deals are not what they used to be. Whether we like or not, we have to embrace change. Accept that time does not go backwards, only forward.

Bands today need to embrace change to. They need to consider themselves and operate like a business. And here’s why!

If you’re in a band, you want to sell records, right? You want to record your music. You want to take those notes, melodies and harmonies out of your head, record them, and sell them. Or put another way, you want to manufacture a product, bring to market and sell it, with the intention of generating a profit margin.

The same principle goes for merchandise, and gigs. The ultimate goal is to make money. You want to be paid when you play, and you want people to buy your merchandise.

A band is business, dealing on a day-to-day basis with other businesses that together, form the wider music industry.

Management companies, promotion companies, PR companies, along with recording studios, artists, photographers, music press, record labels and more. All different businesses that combined, make up an industry.

Any business, be it a sole trader with a market stall, through to multi-million dollar corporations, all have one thing in common… they plan ahead. They write business plans. They set targets, and work towards goals. They also assess their own strengths and weaknesses, and know at times they need to hire outside help.

Planning ahead is at the heart of any business, whether they are bringing a new album to market, or a new brand of baked beans. The skills are different, but the principles of business are the same:

Develop

Produce

Market and advertise

Release

Follow up.

While the company making baked beans may develop a new recipe for the sauce, the band will be writing new music, and so on and so forth. Each and every step has a plan of action that is followed. Each step may, or may not, require the use of other businesses along the way.

Of course, planning alone is not enough to guarantee success. For a start, you need to write and play music that people actually want to listen to! You need merchandise that people want to wear.

You might be reading this and thinking this is all starting to sound expensive. Just like any other business, yes, it’s going to cost. Whether you’re ordering and paying for tee shirts and hoodies, or spending the time researching Press outlets, or even just networking, there’s a price to pay. Don’t be under any illusion, it’s going to cost in time, effort, and cold hard cash. Nobody is going to invest in you, your band, or your music, if you can’t invest in yourselves. Not your fans, and certainly not the industry!

If you’re one of those people that complain about having to pay to ‘boost’ your posts on Facebook, stop now! Stop reading! Forget the last five minutes you’ve just spent reading this. Away now, and continue complaining! Continue complaining about the cost of boosting posts, but don’t complain when you don’t get paid for the next gig you play.

It’s called advertising. You’re not just advertising the post to the people who have already ‘liked’ your page, but their friends list too. How many people in other bands that you have performed with like your page? How many friends do they have that like the music from that gig you played? How many of those might like your band? Every business has to advertise their services or products. It’s advertising to a targeted market that already has an interest in your style of music.

This is just the beginning. As a band, every gig you play, every new Tee shirt you add to your merchandise range, and every EP/album you release will require you to make business decisions. Start planning like a business, start treating your band like a business and last but not least…..

Welcome to the music industry!

By Jamie Sweetlove

(All opinions expressed in this article are solely that of the author)

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