The Music "Must Knows"
The first aspect of any journey into the music business is to actually create a
business. Get a business certificate, S-Corp or LLC. Legalize your music
company. Get your Tax ID number and open up a small business account at a
Get a trademark for your stage name.
Copyright Law is the cornerstone and foundation for the entire music
industry. The “Poor Man’s” Copyright is a myth.
- Register your music the proper way with the U.S Copyright Office using
either form PA or SR.
- Log on to www.Copyright.Gov
- Join one of the performance rights organizations like ASCAP, BMI or
- If you don’t have a sense of direction, you will not make it in the music
- Define your career trajectory and outline the steps to get there.
- Create a plan & set goals as to what you need to accomplish weekly,
monthly and yearly. Be progressive, reach bench marks and keep at it.
- Bigger Battles are won as a result of smaller victories..An effective game
plan includes a combination of short term & long term strategies.
Your business Plan is your road map to success. Every aspiring indie label or
production company should have one. The features of a Music Business Plan
include: Mission, Goals, Target Market, Marketing Strategy, Revenue
Streams, competition assessment, Break Even Analysis, Expected Sales &
Every artist or producer should have a “Mission Statement.” A well defined
“Mission Statement” focuses your energy & clarifies your purpose. Being an
artist or producer is a “business” just like any other, and it should never be
treated as anything less… Would you open a store without any investment
capital? So, what makes being an indie label or production company any
different? Every hustler knows that it “takes money to make money.” So stop
asking for hand outs. If you believe in yourself, then invest in yourself.
As an independent artist, If you can sell 10,000 records & tour on your own,
then you really don’t need to be signed to a major label.. Nowadays an artist
has to be like a politician. You have to have a platform and an agenda. And
you must get out there on the campaign trail.. Every album release should
have a Marketing strategy, Promotion implementation, Breakeven Analysis,
ROI Assessment, weekly & monthly sales projections.
Do your due diligence, study the pros and cons and evaluate the R.O.I
(Return On Investment). The home boy way of doing things will not cut it in
today’s music industry.
- Always utilize contracts & split sheets to avoid problems..
- Get your merchandise together to brand yourself like T-Shirts with your
name or logo on them.
- R&D – Research & Development is essential for the continued growth of
- Make sure you have a Twitter, Facebook and Myspace Account
- Equally important, it’s imperative that you get professional high resolution
photos completed for media positioning, press and publicity.
Additionally, try to build relationships with people outside of the music
industry like in the fields of film, fashion, finance or video game production.
And even if you’re in the Entertainment Business you should still study Wall
Street to see how Money, Investments & venture capital operate. Instead of
reading a lot of these music blogs all of the time, I would advise aspiring
music moguls to read magazines like “Black Enterprise” or “Forbes”.
No matter how good your music is, you must create and steadily increase
consumer demand for it in order to continue to prosper. Who is your target
market? In order to market your music, it is imperative that you tailor your
marketing and sales efforts to specifically reach the segment of the
population that will most likely buy your music. It is critical that you first
determine or clearly identify your primary market. Your energies and funds
then can be spent more efficiently. You have to determine what is your USP
(Unique Selling Proposition). What is it about you or your music that
separates you from the competition? Most unsigned artists just want to
perform & nothing else. They give little thought to any other marketing
strategy or career enhancement. Many Producers don’t get placements
because they don’t market themselves well, they don’t network & they don’t
take meetings… They do a few beat battles, pass out a few beat CD’s and call
it a day.
Some artists spend hundreds of dollars on studio time to create an album, but
will not allocate a dime to a marketing budget to promote it. Performing in
showcases only & sending out a bulletin on Twitter or Facebook twice a
week about your album or mixtape is not an effective marketing plan… An
effective marketing plan includes: Press/Publicity, Radio Promo, Video
Promo, E-Blast Implementation, Shows/Tours, Online Promo, Press Releases
& Street Team/Club Promo
Merchandising is an essential element to any successful marketing plan. The
biggest mistake an artist could make after playing a great show is to have
nothing of any interest for sale immediately afterwards. It’s imperative for
indie artists to compile a comprehensive email database of fans, supporters &
affiliates for E-blast marketing purposes. Indie Artists should send out a biweekly Newsletter informing their fans of new releases, upcoming shows,
merchandise for sale & give aways.
The “music business” has been transformed into a “Multimedia & Branding
business” where the music, the songs & artists are the drivers. You’re in the
business of “YOU”. You’re a brand & how you manage your brand is
important. How’s your customer service? Your marketing? etc. Nowadays it’s
no longer just about selling CD’s; It’s about brand development & selling
“Content” & conveying the mission of your movement. As an indie artist or
producer, one of the best ways to expand your brand is to partner with a NonProfit organization for a worthy cause.
Strategic Branding Plus Positioning Equals Increased Sales & Greater Market
Share! An effective marketing plan gives you a competitive edge. The value
of a brand resides, for the audience, in the hope that the product or service
will deliver what it promises. The term “Goodwill” reflects the “prudent
value” of a label or firm beyond its assets, such as the reputation it enjoys
with its clients or fans. Are you “Goodwill Hunting?” Your brand is what
your company stands for & what it’s known for. If you can’t define your
brand, your customers won’t be able to either. “Your fans must either want to
be you or believe you. You must know your target market & your music has
to resonate with them” – Lenny S
Cinematic, Motivational, Memorable, Exciting, Different & Passionate.
Those are the elements of a classic album. Hit songs have an inevitability
about them and they can change the atmosphere of a room instantly..Try to
Create songs that can take you to the next level with in 30 seconds of hearing
the intro. Great song writers write songs that fuel desire, inspire hope, break
hearts, unite people or just make you want to dance. Some artists forgot what
it was like to be a “fan” of the music and it shows in the stagnancy of their
The Music Industry is not dead, people just want to hear good music instead
of the one dimensional form of music that they’re being force fed. Music is
an “art” & when you treat it strictly as a business you get “Fast Food” or shall
we say “Fast Music” with little substance. Some artists should focus on
creating a niche market for their music, instead of trying to sound like
everyone else they hear on the radio. Nowadays, It’s important that artists
make music that can cross regional boundaries. Your music should translate
above & beyond your hood. There is no time limit on the creative process.
Don’t try to “Rush A Hit”. Take your time & make sure the song meets
certain musical standards. Fiction is defined as an imaginative creation or
pretense not based on reality. It appears that 75% of rappers nowadays are
fictional writers. It’s wise to get critical feedback about your music from
people outside of your circle.
Indie artists often get tired of a song once they make a new one. But if
everyone thinks that your old song is a hit, then keep promoting it. Just
because you’re on the underground does not mean that you should put less
effort into mixing and mastering your songs. A good engineer can take your
music to a new plateau and give you a crisp sound. He or She has the ability
to create, scrutinize, critique, modify, shape and control the details & sound
quality of your music. Often times a “great” song can lose its quality and
explosiveness due to a poor mix and mastering.. So choose your engineer
wisely. And pay producers what they are worth…They have a business just