5 Steps to Kick Start Your Music Business

5 Steps to Kick Start Your Music Business

The beginning is the most difficult. When I started my first business I had all of these grandiose ideas about what I wanted to do.  The problem is, when you look at the big picture you can easily miss a lot of the important details involved with getting you there (costs, costs, costs).

Below, I’ve outlined 5 Steps that can take you from the grand idea stage to the execution stage.

1. Write Your Ideas Down

As a musician, you are used to constantly writing and creating.  This really shouldn’t be a stretch.  However, the problem is that a lot of creative types think in a flow which causes them to house their business ideas in their head.  Take your ideas and write them down along with and add-on ideas that relate to the main idea as you go on.

This is important because it brings you closer to a developed music business plan that will help others align with your vision (remember, your TEAM has to be aligned).

2. Map Your Idea

Great, you have written your music business idea down and are ready to start bringing on the fans, right? Not so fast, your plan is still not actionable and we need to break things down further.  In this step, you’ll want to map our your idea and add-on ideas as well.  To do this we need to take our overarching business idea and put it in the center of a piece of paper.

We’ll stick to basics for these examples but lets say you want to createvmerchandise for your music business.  You would place “merchandise” in the middle of the page.  Simple enough, right?  Now we need to think about what it takes to make this idea viable.  A quick few ideas that could make this viable are:

  • Designs
  • Production
  • Fans/Customers

Again, these are very basic but help to get a point across.

The next step in the mapping stage is to identify the additional subsets that help to make design, production, fans/customers viable.  So for example with designs we can draw up the following:

  • Outsourced designer
  • Learn graphic design programs
  • Pre-made designs

You will continue mapping these out until you have at least 5 levels that helps make your business idea viable.

Probably the top choice for mind mapping software is XMind however you can also use Coggle if you are looking for something free.  Of course, you can also stick to good old fashioned paper and pen.

Once you have done this it is time to move onto step 3.

3. Assess Your Music Business Investment

Now that you have your mind map completed, it is time to start adding some costs to this business idea.  For each link in your mind map you will want to put an expected cost associated with that activity.  You will be able to tie this all the way up to your main business idea for an expected idea cost.

From here you will want to start thinking about how many fans/customers you will need and how much money you will need to make in order to make a profit.

4. Find the Profit – Create Your Plan

So now that you understand how many fans/customers you need in order to make your idea profitable, it is time to develop your plan.

A lot of this is just a numbers game to identify where you need to focus your efforts.  Let’s assume our investment/profit analysis identified that we need 100 fans/customers per month to make a healthy profit.  We now need to figure out where these 100 fans/customers will come from.

It is here that you will want to do a little research on the community involved with buying your type of product within your music business.

Let’s go back to the apparel example.  We may want to look at merchandise from similar artists and look at some of the reviews.  What types of merchandise have the highest reviews for this artist? If its apparel, what colors are selling?  You can get a large amount of information from this alone and it will help you decide exactly  what merchandise you need to offer as well as what sites your target fans may be frequenting.

But, this is MUSIC business and you are a MUSICIAN not a merchandise creator.  You are very right, which is why this research and plan creation phase is so crucial! You are not going to go to these identified communities and peddle your merchandise, you will focus on your music while knowing that the merchandise that you are offering is of value to this fan community.


Now that you’ve done research and created a sound plan where you understand your investment, your break even point, and where your fans/customers are, it is time to EXECUTE the plan.

I would say it is fair that this is where the majority of musicians attempting to make a business out of their music fail.  There are all of these grand ideas but no execution. Execution is the true key to being successful in this music business game as everyone has ideas.




Moving Smart and Steady In the Age of Now

Snail Pace - Speak Your Music

Instant, in your face, breaking news.

We live in a world and a time where everything is moving EXTREMELY quickly.  People are live tweeting events as they happened and sometimes even without all of the correct information.  This is a time where you can blur the facts as long as you were first with the story.  It’s crazy it really is AND it can be detrimental when working on your independent music business.

I’ve spoken before about how beneficial it is to act quickly on things but I want to take a step back into the beginning phases of setting up the processes behind your music business.

Sometimes you need to slow down and understand the reasons behind what you are doing and ensure that you have the processes in place and that what you are doing has a purpose.  It is easy to think that whenever a new media device/outlet comes out that you need to hurry up and get to it.  There is some truth to this — you NEED to be where your fans are.  But, you also have to understand how that device or outlet fits into your overall goals.

It doesn’t help to jump into the latest social platform without understanding the best way to interact with your fans.

So, what SHOULD you be doing?

First, you need to understand what your goals are and who your fans are.  I’ve said it numerous times — YOU NEED TO UNDERSTAND YOUR DEMOGRAPHIC!  Once you know who your fans are you can ensure that your goals align with reaching those fans.  Those fans will tell you exactly how they prefer to consume media.

How do they tell you?

Once you understand who your fans are and you have interacted with them, you can understand what other pages they like, what people they follow, and what kind of statuses they retweet or share.

How does this help?

If you have fans or a demographic that seems to retweet live feeds of their favorite bands, perhaps it would be beneficial to host a Google Hangout or join a service such as Meerkat and get involved with those fans.  You should join platforms just to join, you should join because that is how your fans CONSUME entertainment.

You wouldn’t do a concert in a hardware store because they have the materials to build stages.

Building a business takes time and you need to understand your fans, your goals, and how you can ensure that the actions you take allow you to reach your goals and keep your fans coming back for more.

Move Smart!



K.I.S.S. means Keep It Simple Stupid.

Sometimes we all get way too focused on all of the latest stuff that we never allow ourselves to actually make anything happen.  I remember when Myspace started getting big for artists and you had artists adding all of the latest widgets and gadgets that it completely bogged down their page and made it unnavigable.  You have to be careful about this in your music career as well.

There are tons of ways to market yourself, and you should try to use all of them.  But, the key is to create a system that allows for ease of use and simplicity.  Whenever you begin exploring a new avenue for music marketing and promotion you should be asking yourself “how can I fit this into my system?”

For example, their are tons of social media sites out there, there are also tools that allow you to update every single one of them at once, you should be utilizing these tools.  I use TubeMogul when I want to upload a video, this allows me to upload a single video and then it distributes that video across multiple video sites.

Keeping it simple does not mean that you avoid new things, it means make them work in a system.  Simplicity is best met when you use a team.  Running a team to perform tasks is much easier than trying to do everything by yourself.  But, how do you find a team?  My favorite place for teams when it comes to music is to find college students who have an interest in music business.  A lot of people get this wrong though, they think they can take college students as free work by saying they’ll gain experience.  Be real with them, give them real benefits, and do what you can to give them REAL rewards.  College students tend to have a strong work ethic which is why I like working with them.


-Eric “Fuse” Phillipson

PS.  You can catch me with DJ Fittd on 502FM.com today (Mon, May 10th) at 4PM EST.


Jeff Johnson: An Example of Innovative DIY Marketing

Jeff Johnson hailing from Kentucky is a BEAST!  Not just lyrically, but from a business and music marketing and promotions standpoint as well.  He has a new mixtape coming out called “Marketing Genius Branding Tycoon” with KYMP KAMP and Hustle Squad DJ, DJ Slikk.  The moniker “Marketing Genius” definitely fits him well.  Jeff Johnson is innovative and is a SHINING example of how artists can do it themselves.

Check out these quick marketing videos he did below:

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For more Jeff Johnson check out his website www.MakingMyName.com

-Eric “Fuse” Phillipson


Music Marketing with Social Media: Why Most Artists Are Failing

Social Media Integration for Artists

About a week ago I made a status update on facebook that said, “Logging on just so I can hit ignore, ignore, deny, ignore, mark as read, deny.”  Funny, I know, but its true.  Don’t get me wrong, I don’t deny, ignore, or mark as read everything I get, I confirm things I’ve seen elsewhere or am familiar with, I attend events that are relative to me.  This brings up a few points in Social Media and how artists are using it in music marketing and promotions.

With social media you cannot focus on one place. There is no reason, as an artist, you should be on Myspace and not on facebook and twitter, or even youtube.  These sites work together to build your brand recognition.  Myspace is great for use as a second electronic press kit (your first should be your own website).  Youtube allows fans to connect with you visually, twitter allows fans to see the day to day, and facebook is a great avenue to just keep that crowd up to date.

A good social media campaign for an artist will have all of their social sites working together to build the brand.  As an artist you are a brand and if you don’t think of yourself as such, you need to start.

Beyond keeping social sites in sync, many artists are failing at creating a targeted fan base.  Why am I receiving event invites for parties in New York when I am in Michigan?  The best thing about the internet, from a marketing standpoint, is that it is measurable.  You can measure where traffic is coming from, with ease.  So why take away from these measurable stats by not focusing in on your target market.

Here’s a tip for new artists, instead of spending countless hours adding a bunch of random people, why don’t you invest those hours into targeting potential fans in your city? Once you gain a following in your city, and you’ve captured them through your social sites as well as created your “street” exposure, then branch out to capturing those in your state, from there branch regionally.  If you start small with baby steps, you’ll be able to run eventually.

So why do most artists fail with music marketing through social media?

A) They don’t allow their social sites to build off of each other or run in sync


B) They don’t target potential fans

If you think of yourself as a business and make your moves based on business decisions rather than whats easy, you’ll see your career move in a better direction.