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Music Business

13 Best Jobs For Emerging Independent Artists To Fund Music Career

By Music Business No Comments

Many developing artists dream of turning their music hobby into a full-time professional career. The problem is that this transition is challenging. Not only do you have to make generate enough income to take the leap, you need to be able to keep it going for the long haul in an ever-changing, competitive industry. Until you get to that point, you’ll need to fund your music aspirations with other sources of income.

This doesn’t only apply to new artists. It’s not uncommon for professional musicians to bounce back and forth between doing music full-time and taking up another job to supplement income. Or, even returning to a full-time day job and doing music on the side. It shows how volatile music can be for independents and why you can’t always depend on income directly from music itself, unfortunately.

As an emerging independent artist, you might be wondering what are your best job options to earn money to fund your music career. In this blog, I will cover 13 jobs you may want to consider while you develop as an artist. Read More

Living Legends. Photo by D4 Nguyen.

9 Lessons Today’s Musicians Can Learn from the DIY Independent Music Ethos of the 1990s

By Music Business, Music Promotion No Comments

We all know it’s hard to get your music noticed and grow a fanbase in today’s content-saturated world. Have you ever thought about how much harder it would have been to make a living with your music as an independent artist WITHOUT the internet and social media? Or how about without powerful computers (desktops, laptops, smartphones) to conveniently record and produce music from home?

In this blog, I want to share some key lessons we can learn from DIY independent music artists from the 1990s, specifically in the underground hip hop scene in the United States. Even if you don’t listen to or make hip hop / rap music, you should be able to learn something and gain perspective that applies to you today. Read More

How Musicians Can Maximize Merch Sales At In Person Shows

By Merch, Music Business No Comments

You’ve put a lot of thought into creating the right designs for merch based on your brand and music. With those designs, you decided on the best way to get those items made. Now, it’s time to sell!

For many independent artists, live shows don’t come as frequently so you want to make sure you’re maximizing these opportunities to sell when you’re performing live.

In this blog, we’ll go over all of the basics that you should keep in mind for selling merch in person and some tips to maximize your efforts. Read More

Beginners Guide for Filing Taxes as a Musician – Part 2: 5 Tips To Get Started

By Music Business No Comments

Please Note: I am not a financial advisor or tax consultant. The contents of this blog is for educational purposes only. Nothing contained here is financial, legal, tax or accounting advice. Be sure to talk with a professional tax consultant or accountant if you’re unsure about filing taxes as a musician. The information contained is specifically for those who live and work in the United States.

Have you started bringing in income from music and you’re unsure of how to prepare for taxes?

Being able to earn money as a musician is the first key step from something just being a hobby to becoming a full-time professional. Unfortunately, this is also where income taxes kick in and things can get complicated quickly.

In this blog, which is part 2 of my beginners guide for filing taxes, I’ll cover 5 fundamental tips on how independent artists should get started with accounting for their music business. Also, I share a list of expenses you may be able to write-off as a musician. Read More

Beginners Guide for Filing Taxes as a Musician – Part 1: Frequently Asked Questions

By Music Business No Comments

Please Note: I am not a financial advisor or tax consultant. The contents of this blog is for educational purposes only. Nothing contained here is financial, legal, tax or accounting advice. Be sure to talk with a professional tax consultant or accountant if you’re unsure about filing taxes as a musician. The information contained is specifically for those who live and work in the United States.

As gratifying as it may be to make a living off your art, the tough reality of being an independent artist is that you’re required to handle not only the creative side, but all aspects of the business. This includes filing tax returns with the good folks at the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).

Whether you’re just starting out or on the path to pursue a full-time career as a professional musician, you want to make sure you educate yourself with the basics around filing taxes and creating an accounting system for your finances related to the business. Even though tax returns are due in April, it’s never too early to learn, especially if you want to take this music thing more seriously.

In this blog, I’ll cover common questions newer artists pursuing music professionally may have about filing taxes as a self-employed musician. Read More

Start Music Career

16 Essential Things You Need to Know to Start Your Music Career in 2024

By Marketing Basics, Music Business 26 Comments

2024 Update: This blog was originally published in 2018, but I recently updated it to reflect the changes I’ve seen in the past 6 years.

Have you recently decided that you want to pursue your passion for music, but have no idea where to start? If you’ve been doing music as a hobby for a while now and you want to get more serious, you’re in the right place.

In this blog, I cover all the major pieces and beginning steps you will need to take for starting your music career as an independent artist. Although this guide caters more towards performing artists, singer-songwriters, bands and rappers, I feel a lot of this can still apply to producers and instrumentalists as well.

Even if your end goal is to sign with a major music label, you’ll still need to take these steps to build your foundation. Just know that in the current climate of the music industry (thanks to the internet) you are no longer dependent on music labels to make a career in music, especially the majors. You have the freedom to do it yourself and have complete ownership. Read More

How NOT to Pitch to Music Industry People: Avoid These 10 Common Email Mistakes!

By Music Business No Comments

Have you ever tried pitching yourself or your music to someone in the music industry but rarely ever hear back?

Many of us are busy and yes, we get a lot of emails. At least for me, I actually read most of the emails I get from my website, but I only respond to maybe 5% of them. Why is that? Many artists are making the same common mistakes when it comes to email.

One of the most fundamental skills any emerging independent artist needs is to know how to communicate to music industry people professionally. So if you want to improve the chances of getting something you want, whether it’s pitching for a playlist, receiving coverage on a blog, performing at a venue, getting help with your career, you need to know the proper way to email someone.

Some of you may be thinking this sounds so basic, why dedicate a whole blog on this topic? Unfortunately, I still see a lot of these mistakes in my own inbox way too often so clearly this isn’t common sense. Read More

10 Ways to Enhance Your Music Marketing Around Song Lyrics

By Music Business, Music Marketing No Comments

Lyrics are powerful. You write and perform your songs. Fans memorize them and sing along. Sometimes, they’ll even tattoo their favorite lines on their body. As independent artists, you want to make sure you leverage the power of lyrics in every possible way in your business and marketing.

In earlier days of the Internet (in the late 1990s and early 2000s), searching for song lyrics was one of the top things people did online. I remember I would print out the lyrics to my favorite songs from sites, like AZ Lyrics, and sing/rap along so I could memorize them faster. The good news is making your lyrics accessible is so much easier now, compared to how it was a few decades ago.

In this blog, I will cover all things lyrics that independent artists should do for every release as well as things to consider for marketing your music. Read More

How to Sell Your Merch Directly Through Instagram Shopping (Guide for Musicians)

By Ecommerce, Instagram, Merch, Music Business No Comments

5/8/22 Update: I noticed that Meta(Facebook) is rolling out a revamped tool called Meta Business Suite that looks to replace Facebook Business Manager, which I reference in this blog. As a result, some locations of things I reference and directions I included below may not work anymore. I will try to update everything as soon as possible.

For musicians, a big part of marketing is accessibility. Whether it’s at a live show or on social media, you want to meet fans where they are at and make it as easy as possible to support you.

With Instagram being one of the top social media platforms for musicians, setting up the Instagram Shopping feature is a great way to do this. After launching in 2019, Instagram Shopping has become more widely available now for most business account users.

Unfortunately, the process to get set up can be a bit confusing. In this blog, I will go over all the steps in detail so you can get Instagram Shopping up and running on your Instagram account. Read More

Zion I

RIP Zumbi (Zion I): 9 Things Artists Can Learn From His 20+ Year Independent Career

By Motivation, Music Business No Comments

The most influential artist that got me interested in the independent music scene 20 years ago as a college student and ultimately led to the creation of this blog, passed away in August of 2021. Zumbi (Stephen Gaines) was also a former client of mine.

As a big fan and supporter since 2001, it was an honor to get to work with him and to know him more personally during that period. I’ve been to so many shows and financially supported them anyway I could. He was truly an artist of the people and will be missed as one of the cornerstones of independent hip hop in the Bay Area.

Because of the importance he had for my passion in music and my career in this industry, I wanted to write a blog to honor him as well as share what other independent artists can learn from his legacy, even if you’re not familiar with his music. Read More