Is Music Your Hobby Or Your Business?

© 2009 Vinny Ribas

One of the most important questions that any artist/musician should ask himself (or herself) is “Am I treating my role in music like my hobby or my business?” How you view and treat your music is often the difference between success and failure. Yet it is stunning to realize how many people have never even thought about it!

Here is a quick checklist to determine whether or not you have a business-minded view of your music:

Do you have written short-term and long-term goals for your music career?

  • Do you have a written, well-though-out plan detailing how you are going to get there?
  • Do you know how you are going to finance your next recording project?
  • Do you have a written budget for your next recording project, your performing/touring, your merchandise sales etc?
  • Do you regularly set aside a portion of your music-related income to pay for new equipment, repairs, unexpected expenses etc?
  • Do you have experts that perform some of the day-to-day functions of your business, such as booking, PR, marketing etc?
  • Do you have a mentor, consultant, manager or someone else who knows the industry that you can call on to guide you and keep you on track?
  • Do you have a formal system for capturing contact information of and keeping in touch with your fans (e.g. newsletter)?
  • Do you save all of your business-relaed receipts?
  • Do you pay taxes on all of the profit you make after legitimae deductions?
  • Do you confirm your bookings several weeks before the gigs, and send thank-you letters/emails to the venue/buyer after them?

All too often, great singers and musicians fail to see any success in the industry because they feel that their talent should be enough to get them hired. The truth is that success in any industry, including music, is the result of a lot of hard work in many different areas.

So, if you answered ‘yes’ to all or at least most of the questions above, your chances of having a strong and lengthy career in music are considerably above average. If the majority of your answers were ‘no’, then it may be time to re-evaluate how you treat your music/talent (depending on your goals). The choices are simple: 1) continue to treat it like a hobby and just roll with the flow; 2) learn to treat your music like a business, or: 3) find someone to run the business side of your career.


About The Author

Vinny Ribas

Vinny Ribas is the founder and CEO of Indie Connect, an artist management, consulting and training company. The company also hosts networking and educational events and has published an app that connects people to the Nashville Music Industry. During his 40+ year career, Vinny has been a full time musician, artist manager, booking agent, songwriter, studio owner, producer and the Entertainment Director for the NV State Fair. He has also coached over 1000 artists and songwriters. He is a sought after speaker and has authored over 400 music industry articles. Vinny is also the CEO of Top 4M Entertainment, an independent film and television production company.