This post is part of The Renegade Musician Series.

Study well – the term “music business” has two words in it. The first is music. The second is business.

From this, you’ve already discerned that the music business is 50% music and 50% business (you’re smart, that’s how I know you’ve discerned it).

Spending time creating is crucial for every musician. But no matter how difficult or boring, to have a successful career in music, you must work on the business side of it. Most musicians neglect this and never develop any competence.

Most musicians think business is B.S. They believe if they just spend enough time making music and performing that someone will eventually notice and discover them. They refuse to take ownership of their careers, and beyond hoping and praying to be discovered, they aren’t invested in their own success.

If they ever do get signed to a record label, they will be in for a rude awakening, because labels require artists to handle the business aspects of their career.

Even as an independent, chances are, when you’re ready to build your own team, you won’t be working less. You’ll be working harder than ever to ensure your team is busy, well-paid, and happy.

Personally, after 10 years of practicing guitar, learning to sing, writing songs, self-producing, contributing to compilations, recording and releasing music, performing, and teaching, I hadn’t experienced much breakthrough in my career.

My breakthrough came in 2011 when I joined two network marketing organizations. I started devouring the training material – books and CDs. I found the missing key.

It was simple but revolutionary.

Long-term mindset. Legitimizing your business. Working daily towards the accomplishment of your goals. Tracking your progress. Becoming debt free. Reinvesting in your business.

That’s when I finally started to see what had gone wrong in my career.

That summer, I was interviewed on TV and performed at a local festival. I even went on a mini tour. That was just the beginning of great things to come.

How did that happen? I applied what I was learning in business to my music career.

Everyone you want to work with sees themselves as a business. So, you put yourself at an advantage when you conceive of yourself as a business and act like one. You put yourself at a disadvantage when you don’t. Most musicians don’t.

Everyone you want to work with sees themselves as a business. So, you put yourself at an advantage when you conceive of yourself as a business and act like one. Click To Tweet

Jay-Z’s infamous rhyme from Kanye West’s “Diamonds From Sierra Leone (Remix)” nailed it:

I’m not a businessman. I’m a business, man.


If you are satisfied with where you are in your music career, change is unnecessary. But if you think more is available and know it’s within your grasp, then you must embrace business – negotiation, marketing, accounting, and more. Find your strengths and work in them. Identify your weaknesses and seek help.

Take advantage of The Most Incredible Back to School Sale while you still can.

David Andrew Wiebe
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