7 Expert Strategies for Artists to Excel in the Music Business

In the music industry, it’s crucial to be an entrepreneur and have a business mindset if you want to transform your career into a professional endeavour. Artists should not only create music, but also entrepreneurs, to successfully navigate the cut-throat arena that is the music business.

Beyond the lyrics and toplines, there’s a complex web of deals, social media management, financial considerations, marketing strategies and whatnot. In this article, we delve into all this and more while trying to answer the question: how can artists successfully navigate the business side of a music career?

Inside the music industry: The 7-point roadmap to the music business

Having an entrepreneurial mindset

As an artist operating in today’s music business, having zero knowledge of the business side of the music industry simply doesn’t cut it anymore. In the past, artists could be successful by leaving all business to their manager and label, but that just doesn’t work anymore. In this day and age, self-sufficiency is an important quality to have, even for successful artists such as Taylor Swift and Dua Lipa.

If you want to be successful, it’s important to understand the market in which you operate, what your brand is about and what your target audience is looking for. Switching your mindset to that of an artist-entrepreneur allows you to be creative, with the added bonus of having the entrepreneurial knowledge to guide your decisions. This allows you to stay vigilant and actively participate in decisions that can make or break your career.

Being financially literate

Another thing to consider is that the music industry’s revenue landscape has changed dramatically with the rise of streaming services and digital platforms. As the financial impact of COVID-19 has shown all of us, it’s important for artists to diversify their income sources and look beyond touring, streaming payouts and traditional record sales. Merchandising, sync opportunities and subscription models are just three ways for business-savvy artists to boost their financial stability and eliminate constant uncertainty.

Harness the power of networking

Entrepreneurship thrives on relationships, and the music industry is no exception. Building a robust network is not only essential to open doors to artistic collaboration, but it’s also a sure-fire way to attract the attention of music industry professionals who can have a significant impact on your career.

Networking doesn’t necessarily mean in-person conferences and music showcases. With social media, we now have the opportunity to connect with people from all over the world – all without spending a single dime. Therefore, don’t be afraid to put yourself out there and connect with people online! You never know where a single email might lead.

Think about your marketing and branding strategy

In a crowded digital landscape, marketing and branding are crucial to distinguishing what your unique selling point is and making yourself visible. As an artist-entrepreneur, it’s essential to be aware of your USP and have a cohesive brand identity that resonates with your target audience. This will not only boost your music career, but will also help you expand beyond the music industry.

When crafting your brand, you need to create a compelling narrative around your music, and leverage visuals, social media and storytelling to communicate that with your audience. Moreover, having at least a basic understanding of data and analytics is crucial to see what works and what doesn’t – ensuring that you’re not spending money in vain.

Learning the legal jargon associated with the music industry will avoid many heartbreaks and financial disputes in the long run. Whether you’re negotiating deals with record labels, getting your music in movies or working with other artists, you need to ensure that you protect your intellectual property and are fairly compensated. It may seem like an unnecessary expense to get legal representation at an early point in your career, but it’s actually a wise investment that will help protect your career in the long run.

Embrace innovation

As MTV co-founder Tom Freston once said: “Innovation is taking two things that exist and putting them together in a new way.” The entrepreneurs AND artists that are successful are the ones who aren’t afraid to push the envelope and embrace innovation.

With technology advancing at breakneck speed, it’s important for artists to keep up to date with what’s happening and see what they can adopt. There’s no question that adapting to new trends, experimenting with new formats, and finding ways to engage your fan base is the ultimate trump card and a hallmark of what it means to be an artist-entrepreneur.

Final thoughts

With the lines between artistic creativity and entrepreneurship becoming more and more blurred, it presents a unique chance for a new type of artist to emerge – the artist-entrepreneur. By cultivating this mindset, artists not only manage to overcome artistic obstacles, but also successfully conquer the equally crucial business aspect that can make or break their careers.


Janelle knows a thing or two about the music industry. Having been involved in the industry since the age of 13, she's now involved in a variety of music-related projects and is always keen to share industry tips 'n' tricks with fellow musicians.