by Sophia Young
Posted on October 28th, 2021
Deciding to take the leap and start a music career is a big decision. If you are like most musicians, you probably have the talent, the passion, the drive, but not the money.
While your skills and talents as a musician play the biggest roles in your success, getting your career started will be tough if you don’t have the funds.
Before you make it big in the music industry, you’ve got to face the challenge of financing your career first. It’s going to be most challenging during the beginning stages as you’ll always find yourself scraping together enough money to afford your expenses such as your instruments, production, touring, and of course — feeding yourself.
So, how do aspiring musicians like you fund their careers? There are many ways, and they won’t leave you falling into a deep debt hole.
Getting yourself an arts grant is one of the best ways of financing your music career, but it can also be one of the toughest to pull off. Applying for an arts grant is like being in an audition as you’re competing against countless musicians just like you. With most governments cutting arts funding recently, it’s going to get a lot more competitive. But don’t lose heart, because there are things you can do to increase your chances.
The key is to stand out. Take your time in the application process and make sure you understand the guidelines well. Knowing what the funder is looking for is crucial before submitting your application. One thing funders usually pay attention to is a strong foundation. Applicants who can present a long-term plan for their career and proof of their success have a huge advantage over the rest. Lastly, keep your application simple. Get right to the point and explain why you deserve the grant.
If you already have a sizable fanbase early in your career, crowdfunding can work well for you. Crowdfunding is essentially asking for your fans’ help in funding. It’s nothing to feel embarrassed about as it’s a tactic employed by many independent musicians. In addition, loyal supporters who want to see you succeed will be more than happy to contribute. Of course, this means your fans will have a larger stake in your career.
Crowdfunding sites like Kickstarter and Patreon have made starting a campaign easy. However, a campaign can quickly come crashing down when not done correctly. When crowdfunding, make sure you’re stating your goals clearly. It’s hard for people to support someone if they’re not sure what their money will be spent on. You also must set an achievable goal. You don’t want to set a lofty target only for the campaign to flop. Besides, most crowdfunding platforms won’t let you keep the money if you don’t reach the target.
Doing gigs is a no-brainer for any aspiring musician. It will be your top source of income, so you want to get the most out of them. With most people now going cashless, you must have a card machine in your gigs. Relying solely on peoples’ cash in your gigs means you’re missing out on sales.
Another good practice is to sell your merchandise in all your shows. When fans go to your gigs, they want a souvenir to remember the experience, making your gigs one of the best places to sell your merch. You can also up your game by applying marketing techniques such as offering discounts or limited-time offers to drive up sales.
Make money singing. It sounds redundant, but making money singing is different from making it big in the music industry. A large chunk of what you do while building your career involves things that promote your work and improve your reputation, but won’t earn you a dime. You can get extra income by releasing your songs on Spotify, iTunes, Deezer — as many music streaming platforms as you can. The more of your work you get out there, the more streaming and download royalties you can get.
If you really have to take on debt, do it properly. High-interest loans and credit cards might look like an easy way to cover all your expenses right now, but they are likely to put you in a tougher spot down the road. They should only be your last resort. The key to taking on debt is to discard the idea that you’ll “Take care of things later.” Only borrow an amount you are certain is enough to help keep things running while still being sure you can pay it off. When you get the money, make sure to spend it wisely.
Yes, it’s tough. Working on your career is already exhausting, but the income you will generate from a side hustle will go a long way in keeping things afloat. Almost every musician took a side job alongside their music career to help manage expenses. Besides, you don’t have to do it solely for the money. A side job can open opportunities for you and even give you inspiration for your next piece.