Music Business Essentials Every Musician Should Be Aware Of

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Music business essentials can make or break your career. There are simply things you need to know about. Why? Read On!

Music business essentials are the basis of the music industry. By all means, everyone has a different approach to this. However, there are founding stones that everyone can agree on.

How deep you want to get invested is up to you. Important to realise, at least you should have heard about certain topics and have a clear understanding of how they affect you and your career.

Not knowing is never the best career strategy. In order to help you out, I’ve compiled music business essentials.

Copyright law is an music business essential

Let’s get the dry part out first. Copyright is by no means the next best seller in terms of readability. Nonetheless, copyright law is one of the most important founding elements of the music business.

It determines who can earn money with the musical body of work. What is more, it also states all parts that can get a piece of the pie.

Behind every royalty, every streaming payout, and every sync license, there’s a copyright and a copyright owner. If you ever want to earn money on musical composition or sound recording, and if you’re going to protect that right and ensure that people aren’t stealing your work, you need to know your copyright protections. 

*source: Soundcharts

In the music industry, that is a surprising number of partners. As a matter of fact, you as a musician don’t need to know the latest industry numbers.

However, it would be really good if you know who gets what portion of the revenue that subsequently is generated by the music that who write!

The simplest way is to write an Excel sheet where you mark all the different contracts you have. Then, also write down the percentages that you have agreed upon in your contracts.

This way, you can have a clear overview of what is going on!

Figuring out your resources is a music business essential

Knowing exactly what your resources are is a super important music business essential. What does that mean?

It means that you know all things that support your efforts. That can be the money you can spend. Running a music release can be a costly affair. Firstly, you need to write music of course.

However, you also need to live at the same time. How do you finance the writing period? Do you get an advance from your record label?

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Do you have a side hustle that supports your rent and food bill?

Secondly, you need to record the music and have it mastered. That of course comes with a certain cost.

Again, is your record label footing the bill or do you do a tape transfer agreement? That would mean that you produce the whole album on your own first and only license the finished product to the record label.

This is crazy, resources don’t only refer to money. Also, your time is important to track. As mentioned above, if you need a side hustle to complement your music income it literally takes time to do that.

Do you want to be a DIY musician or do you rather hire an expert team?

Another music business essential is the decision if you want to work your music on your own as a DIY musician. Equally, perhaps you rather plan on hiring music industry experts to help you?

This is a super important decision to make. Why? Because it kind of determines your approach and long term strategy.

For example, if you want to go down the DIY route, that would mean that you would finance the whole production yourself. Also, if touring starts after the corona-pandemic, you would also plan that on your own.

Branding – A Music Business Essential

If that is what floats your boat than it needs special planning and a lot of in-depth learning about the music industry. That way, you could manage your career on your own.

On the contrary, if that DIY approach isn’t really your cup of tea, you’re probably going to look into hiring a team of experts.

Of course, this approach also comes with its own implications. For example, you would need to network a lot in order to meet the right people.

Then, of course, you would need to have an understanding of professional work in the music industry to attract said experts.

Likewise, having an understanding of the most important contracts is super important. Also, knowing where you can get help if you don’t understand a certain passage in a contract can be invaluable support.


By no means, there are so many more music business essentials then explained here. This was just a super quick stumbling block to get you thinking. The important thing is to really have a proper think and to identify keystones of your career. Equally important, knowing exactly where you want to go and your biggest goals can be a huge motivator for your music career!


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