Many aspiring artists don't take the time to learn about the music business. However, we cannot stress enough the importance of understanding at least the basics about how to run a successful career in the music world when it comes to the business side of things. Here are 4 facts taken from All You Need to Know About the Music Business that you should definitely become familiar with as you start to dig more into this topic.
1. You are a business. Even though your skills are creative, you’re capable of generating multimillions of dollars, so you have to think of yourself as a business.
2. Most artists don’t like business. This is not to say you aren’t good at it. Some artists are unbelievably astute in business. However, those folks are the minority, and whatever their love and skill for business, their love and skill for creating and performing are much bigger. So even if you’ve got the chops to handle your own business, it’s not the best use of your time. That's why it's so important to have a team working with you, but this is a topic for a later post ;)
3. Success hides a multitude of sins. This is true in any business, from making widgets to making records. If you’re successful, you can get away with sloppy operations that would bankrupt you if times were bad. For example, putting all your pals on the payroll, buying lots of non-income-producing assets (such as houses, jets, and other things that cost you money to maintain), as well as an overindulgence in various legal and illegal goodies, can easily result in a crash and burn if your income takes even a small dip, much less a nosedive. You can make more money by cutting costs than you can by earning more income, so the time to operate efficiently is NOW, not later.
4. Your career is going to have a limited run. Don’t take offense at this—“limited” can mean anything from a year to fifty years, but it is nonetheless going to be limited. In most other careers, you can expect to have a professional life of forty years plus, but as an entertainer in the music business, this rarely happens. And the road is strewn with carcasses of aging rock stars who work for rent money on nostalgia tours. So take the concentrated earnings of a few years and spread them over a forty-year period, and you’ll find that two things happen: (a) the earnings don’t look quite as impressive; and (b) you realize this money may have to last you the rest of your life.
It is certainly possible to have a long, healthy career, and to the extent you do, the need for caution and preservation diminishes radically. However, even the best entertainers have slumps, and very few have lengthy careers. Thus it’s best to plan as if your career isn’t going to last, then be pleasantly surprised if it does. Setting yourself up so that you never have to work again doesn’t stop you from working all you like—it just becomes an option, not an obligation.