The Rotor Blog

How To Turn Your Music Into a Business

Find out how to make money from music as an independent artist from self promotion to creating a business mindset.

Find out how to make money from music as an independent artist from self-promotion to creating a business mindset.

The music industry has changed an unprecedented degree in the last several decades. With the explosion of the internet, social media, streaming and visual content, making music and earning a living doing so is now more business-focused than ever.

Should musicians approach their craft with a more corporate mentality? We’ve considered and explored the reasons why musicians need to think more like businesses and how to approach music as a business. 

Your Music needs to be Financially Viable

It’s not enough to be passionate about the music you play and develop. Any aspiring musician must have a financially-orientated mindset on how to make money from music, or at least some plan for their budget.

Maintaining a Source of Income

This may mean keeping a regular day job around your passion or reserving certain funds for self-promotion, branding, etc. Considering your music as a business will make your aspirations more realistic and could keep your approach more grounded.

Do you have enough money to set up gigs, shows and produce merchandise? Can you balance a separate job with starting up an act? These are important questions to consider.

Deciding between Cult and Commercial

You’ll also need to decide what your act represents.

Are you looking to be a more mainstream, commercial artist, or are you looking for a cult following? Approaching your music as a business, and determining your goals from the outset, will make your path much clearer.

Invest What You Can into Your Music

When working out what you’ll spend and where, it’s important to consider how much time and money you’re prepared to invest yourself. You’ll need to be prepared to give up time and cash before you can expect anything back in the long term.

Make a business plan that takes this into account – will you start your budgets based on your own income?

Record Labels are Less Important

Ever since the rise of the internet, mp3 files and digital downloads, the importance of record labels and promised, paid exposure has dwindled. It is now entirely possible for new, indie or upcoming artists to create a brand and base through their own accord.

Self-Starting on Social Media

With platforms such as YouTube, Facebook and Spotify, it’s easier than ever to connect to as many people as possible without reliance on larger corporations. Musicians need to embrace these mediums if they’re looking for success.

Branding and digital content cannot be left solely to a manager anymore, as many smaller artists simply don’t have enough excess revenue to employ external individuals.

With all of the tools at your fingertips, successful artists will make as much use of social media platforms as possible, and will self-manage until it is financially viable to expand.

A Pro-Active Attitude is Important

Taking a pro-active approach to your music and act is vital if you hope to make it. Gone are the days where an aspiring independent artist could simply play a local venue and hit the big time. You’ll need to be prepared to travel for shows, put the hard work in and get your voice across.

Be prepared to network, collaborate with others, market for yourself and get familiar with all the relevant platforms and outlets at your disposal. Treat it as a business start-up; getting the contacts and the foundations are vital for long term growth. 


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Determine Your Unique Selling Point

Much like any start-up business, you’ll need to figure out a unique selling point. What makes you stand out amongst all of the other artists looking to make it big in the industry?

This could be your acts personality, stage presence or sound. Be sure to adopt your unique traits in any merchandise, logos or gig setups. Make your brand memorable and ensure that your art resonates with audiences. 

Album Sales are no Longer Sufficient

With record sales no longer providing substantial profit for most artists, other avenues of income have to be considered in order to keep things afloat. Musicians need to approach their branding, merchandise and gigs as business models if they hope to thrive.

You can’t just rely on music sales anymore!

Offering a Range of Products

Considering fan bases as customers is a useful practice when trying to increase your revenue. Modern musicians will need to recognise their niche, creating and offering products that fit around their image. Many start-up acts focus on merchandising, which can range from t-shirts, CD presses, stands, and posters.

Live Performances are Important

Gigs are also a vital part of development and growth. Tickets to shows can be sold for just as much, and often more, as an album or recorded session. It’s important for musicians to create and adapt their live shows into something that audiences will want to come back to.

Visual Content

With much of the digital world moving towards video faster than ever before, it’s now equally as important as the music you produce. You’ll need to use it to promote, spread awareness and increase growth.

Music videos, vlogs and livestreams are an excellent means of marketing and promotion in the digital age. Often producing and editing can take time and money, but Rotor Videos provides a cost-efficient, high-quality service that can give you the content you need.

Streaming Services Dominate Music Consumption

Streaming brings previously industry-heavy concerns, such as royalty distribution, to the forefront of artistry conversations, meaning many smaller bands are now forced to be more intimately associated with the business side of their work.

Streaming services have fundamentally changed the ways in which we consume music and, by extension, the way it is profitable. While there are controversies over the royalty fees associated with streams, platforms such as Spotify and Deezer provide useful data and feedback that can be used to adapt creative output.

DJs and artists need to be aware of these tools and utilise them in their management if they hope to stand out in today’s musical climate.

Using Data to Your Advantage

Artists can now see easily and instantly which of their songs are most popular, where they’re most listened to, and how their fans interact with their work. If an act or artist is willing to embrace these platforms, they can create specific playlists, determine which locations to tour, and further hone their craft to maximise their revenue.

Artists that accept data and commercial feedback can gain valuable insight into their content and will allow for more effective changes as they progress. Services such as Spotify for Artists make it simple and easy for acts to gain access to the information they need.

If you’re looking for a straight-forward, economical video-editing and publishing tool to market your brand or act, Rotor Videos is used by over 50,000 artists around the world. Create and sample your video for free and only pay when you’re ready to download.