How to grow a business- for working musicians – Creative Strings Podcast Ep. 19

Scroll down for the Video, Podcast, and Article in which I share my process for creating immediate growth in your music business.

If you’re tired of the status quo and want to jumpstart new projects, jump on a call with me while availability lasts to discuss your business. Click here to schedule your free 30-minute Music Business Strategy Session.

Thanks to our sponsors at Yamaha and Electric Violin Shop for their continued support!

A fulfilling career in music is something worth fighting for.

The mountain is there in front of you; Are you going to climb it or not?

My next month-long online interactive course runs Jan.8- Feb 8, 2017.  If you want to create more income in your music business, schedule a free call with me now. I’ll help you identify what’s holding you back and offer some strategies you can begin applying right away.

Many musicians assume that there’s a direct line between musical ability and income, and I disagree, (except in the increasingly rare cases when one lands an audition for a long term gig).

Consider how many musicians playing beneath your level are making more money than you.

Now consider how many amazing musicians are not working.

This should be enough to convince you that musical skill does not always correlate with getting gigs. The most successful musicians are usually good, but they are also people who either got lucky, have an incredible network, or built a successful business through hard work and skillful promotion.

The only thing you can control, besides your musicianship, is the quality of your business execution.

The restaurant business offers a useful analogy. Eight out of ten restaurants fail, and I’d bet that most of these restaurants are launched by chefs who make really tasty food! The reason they fail is  because there’s a difference between cooking well and running a restaurant. Being good at your craft is different than being good at the business of selling your craft. If you want to grow your career quickly, I recommend you start developing some business chops.

Many musicians feel slimy about “business”. We just want to play music, and asking for money feels pushy and dirty.

If you believe in the value of your music, you need to get comfortable with assigning monetary value to your work. It takes income for most of us to make time for practice, let alone providing for our families and taking care of ourselves.

 Sales and marketing make up the engine of business, while having clear goals, organizational skills and a strong mindset help keep that engine running.

Assuming you have a valuable product or service, if you simply offer that product persistently and effectively to the right people, the more gigs you will land and the more money you will earn.

It’s really that simple.

Here’s a process you can use to create a burst of income or develop a new project. It’s the same process that I guide people through in my month-long interactive online group course (the 2.0 course is launching November 15th).

music biz head on

1) Decide how many hours per week you will devote to proactively working on your business. (Not practice time!)

2) Choose a very specific goal or goals, bearing in mind the following:

-Is it potentially lucrative?

-Will it make you happy (musically, on a personal level, or otherwise)

-Is it a long term or short term goal? If you are strapped for cash, you should include at least one “short term” goal.

Write down 1-3 specific goals. If you aren’t sure, then post several options and explain the pros and cons as you see them. I recommend a maximum of three (one or two is totally fine).

Examples of what are NOT typically good goals (because these are usually a means to an end):

  • Build a website
  • Make a Facebook page
  • Produce an album

Here are better examples of short term and long term goals:

– Get more work playing side person gigs. (where/how much/what type)

-Create an additional $200 per week in income from private teaching

-Get more gigs with your own ensemble playing at bigger festivals/venues

-Get paid for placing your original music in TV/Film/Online

-Establish a 501(c)(3) organization to spearhead several grant-funded projects.

-Create a booking agency

-Start a remote recording or production service


music business is like climbing a mountain

3) Create a marketing/sales/action plan related to each goal. The plan should include:

-Who are the related contacts or prospects  (the buyers or the decision makers who can provide you with a gig)

-What are the best ways to reach these contacts with your offer (contact info and preferred mode of contact)

The Pitch:  sales letters, videos, voice mails, or scripts. You may need multiple letters. For example, a letter for the first touch, a letter for when people say they are interested, a letter asking for referrals, etc.

4) Develop marketing collateral, e.g., presentations, audio, video, website, images, flyers, social media pages, testimonials, social posts, email signatures or templates. Describe your service or product in three ways: a) in a sentence, b) in a paragraph, c) in a page. (A five-word description is great too.) Your sales materials must be about the benefits your service provides to your clients. List the features of your service, but more importantly, list the benefits it provides.


My new music business course will provide these benefits to working musicians: more income, more time, more desirable gigs, and more impact.

My new music business course has the following components: Personalized support, group calls, peer-support, curriculum resources, etc.

5) Go into action. Start making offers. (Promote, market, and sell!)

Effective sales requires persistence/patience, organization, and confidence. there are various tactics and strategies, but for most of us, the psychology behind selling is even more important.

  1. Frame your offers in terms of asking for advice, referrals, or gigs.
  2. Present them via email, social media messages, texts, phone calls, or face to face
  3. Identify your “go to” tools such as CRM, auto responders, email marketing applications, Facebook or YouTube ads, email signatures, templates, LinkedIn messages, social media campaigns, time saving apps. Delegate wherever possible to lighten the load.
  4. Be very clear about “why” you are building your business,  what your purpose is, and what you want. For example, I work hard because I want to support my family. I work hard because I want to have a vacation once a year. I work hard because I want to make a difference in the world. I work to build my business because I really love to make music, and I really don’t want to do another job. Make sure your offers feel congruent with your personality and values. Not every salesperson needs to be gregarious and outgoing. Craft an approach in keeping with who you authentically are.
  5. Establish a reasonable goal of number of quality offers to make daily or weekly.

marketing and sales- the engine of a music business


6) Mindset: Business is practical, but mindset is crucial. Beyond answering the question “WHY” you want to be in the music business, and believing in the value of what you have to offer, it will help you tremendously to be Responsible, Kind, Grateful, Confident, and In Service. Be in service to others through the music you make (or teach!). Allow the impact of the beauty you bring to the world to be a cause that lifts you up such that you are willing to unabashedly fight for it.



To begin creating more income in your music business, schedule a free call with me now.

EXCLUSIVE BONUS FOR VIOLINISTS: Download a free chart for “Postlude” by clicking here!

Clip in this episode

“Greatness Trailer” – Produced by Christian Howes and Hamilton Hardin, for Lewis Howes and the School of Greatness