It might seem daunting to start work as an independent musician and to create an independent music business plan, but flying solo might be just the opportunity you need. BBC Music Correspondent Mark Savage points out that this may even be the best path towards success, since self-releasing artists grew their revenues by 27% in 2020. On top of that, indie musicians take up 43.1% of the entire music market, which is an all-time high.
Thanks to streaming services, both independent artists and signed musicians have a shot at stardom today.
That said, if you want to become a successful independent artist you need to start off on the right foot with a solid business plan.
Preparation can help you get far in the industry, which is why it’s important to create an executive summary that shows how you plan to run your career.
Create a one-page synopsis that describes what your music business stands for, as well as the projects you’re planning to produce and your roadmap for the next couple of years. Lay down more concrete strategies for each of your initiatives.
Your executive summary will offer a basis for what you say “yes” to, as well as what you say “no” to, which can be just as critical as you’re steering the direction of your music career. Taking on too much is a sure way to fail, so put parameters in place around projects you will green light.
Your audience will drive the success of your songs, albums, and performances – so it’s critical that you know key facts about them.
That said, our article on “Defining Your Target Audience” recommended that you view your audience as your dream listeners, and this is also key. By framing your perception this way, you can put together a plan that combines what you’re passionate about with what’s going to work.
Most experts recommend that you focus on the age, location, gender, and interests of your target audience (demographic data).
But by visualizing your dream listener, you can take a more targeted approach to your music, and really create something that’s authentic and impactful (and thus likely to drive business results).
To make your independent music business a sustainable reality, you must invest in trademarks, legal fees, equipment, and more. Since you’ll be investing your own capital, you need to identify expenses and project earnings to offset costs.
Having a realistic basis for these expenses is crucial to keeping your independent musician venture in the black.
If you need guidance on how to handle your taxes, budgeting, and much more, AskMoney is a free financial resource that you can refer to. The site has several articles on budgeting and business finances that you can refer to that will help you allocate your capital to get great returns.
You can also use accounting software programs to forecast your profits using marketplace analysis and revenue models, so that you can earn back what you invested and increase your financial success.
Once you’ve put together a realistic budget, the next step is to create detailed project timelines. This allows you to identify both your short- and long-term goals – and what it will take to achieve them.
When it comes to producing albums, music education philosopher John Kratus pointed out that there are four steps to setting up your projects for success. You need to produce a timeline for the conception of the album theme, the creation of the songs, the studio production process, and the marketing strategy.
Understand that everything you take on is a “project” in its own right, even if it isn’t expansive in scope. Which means that every to-do item deserves its own mini timeline, preferably with a checklist, and notes on who is responsible for taking what action by when.
Though talent is obviously crucial to your success, a solid marketing plan can play a huge role in making sure that talent reaches an audience. So, once you’ve visualized your dream listener (as discussed above), it’s time to figure out the best way to market your music.
Educational music magazine LedgerNote’s guide to marketing plans recommends that you focus on your message, your audience, and your marketing platforms. Make sure that you create SMART goals and concrete, actionable steps for your overall plan.
We’ve only dedicated so much space to this here, but the importance of solid marketing plan can’t be overstated. It may even be the most crucial part of any business plan, because music not promoted is unlikely to gain traction with listeners.
Plan for Success with Your Independent Musician Business Plan
A business plan can be challenging to put together, but the process helps you clarify your goals as an independent musician and entrepreneur. Crafting a business plan allows you to create realistic and actionable steps that will bring you one step closer to a thriving music career.
We hope this has been a helpful guide, and please come see us at Music Entrepreneur HQ again soon.