Music business-planning

Il4 muso business plan


As stated in previous posts, I’ve been doing some reading up about the music industry in retrospect regarding previous efforts of being in a band. But there’s also the question I ask myself: “how, if possible, can I exploit my created works now?”. The band only did 12 songs back then, but I’d written many more that the band didn’t get to see, and I’ve still kept up song-writing on and off to this day.


And the business of music is more relevant now in an age of DIY musicians and the openness of the internet. So yes, the culture and entertainment industries are super competitive, but I’m not doing it for money now, I’m doing it for love, so I’d do it anyway. However, regardless of how competitive it is, you can’t rule out the chance of someone saying “I want to use that song in my film or ad” or “I want to incorporate those cartoons in my publication” etc…No matter how quirky or ‘poor’ it may seen, it may fit a certain niche or need…


One book I read looked at how to establish a small ‘entertainment’ business, and it seem to adapt general principles of setting up a small business to the entertainment, music and culture industries. Some things I found useful -how to get an ABN and your name trademarked, whether to be a sole trade, partnership or registered company and  to prepare for tax and GST.


But some of the book wasn’t really helpful because providing some sort of artistic ‘product’ is not like setting up a fish and chip shop. If there’s any initial success, I’ll inevitably have to start on a part time basis, and build it up gradually. There’s no point making a business plan and a marketing plan with a 12 month time frame because success in many creative endeavours is so hit and miss.


Compare the fish-and-chip shop with a sole songwriter/publisher enterprise. For fish and chips, it’s clear what capital you need, and designing a business plan is based on fairly specific information -what’s the location? How many potential customers expected to walk by? What competition is in the vicinity? What kitchen equipment will be needed, and how much will it cost? Etc… -it’s reasonably easy to predict what kind of business you will pull in, and to have a time frame to borrow money, set up the shop, have an opening day, and then start recouping on the investment.


Song-writing’s a bit different. There are too many factors involved and evaluating a song’s ‘market effectiveness’ is difficult. Furthermore, the fish and chip shop relies on instant return on investment when customers hand over the dosh for the greasy grub, while a songwriter may successfully ‘sell’ a song to a performer, but he or she won’t see an income stream in the form of royalties probably for over a year -and the song could top the charts, or it could sell a few thousand copies only.


That’s not to say a songwriter can’t be successful -and a lot of it could be down to building the right connections over time in the industry, as well as honing in on song-writing and production skills. But these aren’t the sort of tangible factors you can easily put in a business plan.


So, I’m finding some books more useful than others, and one which I’m reading now is  particularly useful and it’s called: “Making Music Make Money” by Eric Beall. Even though it’s an American book, (so there’ll be some differences in how the music industry works in Australia) he gives very practical step-by-step guidelines to becoming a music publisher for your own songs.


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