When cultivating a career in music, cash can be hard to come, and when it does finally begin to roll in, it's critical that you take the time to reinvest at least a portion of the funds back into your career. Here we look at some smart and effective ways to invest in your music career.
Guest post by Emma Miller
At the beginning, musicians usually make very little money while writing an album or promoting a show. When compared to the amount of work they put in, the spare change in their pockets can’t even pay for new gear or time in a proper studio. Nevertheless, when the first royalty check comes through, don’t start blowing the money off on celebrations.
That first hard-earned money won’t make you rich, but you don’t have to be rich to make good investments. Some artists raise money with a particular goal in mind while others reinvest after releasing a hit album. Here are a few recommendations for investing a portion of your money back into your music career to get the most bang for your buck.
1. Professional recording software
We assume that you already have the minimum hardware needed for recording your music, so it’s time to invest in some proper software. Choose professional DAW software, such as Ableton, ProTools or Logic. Of course, this software requires skills to use it, so you can also invest some time and money in training, or you can find some good tutorials online and spend a few sleepless nights learning the ropes. In any case, learning to use these production tools will enable you to work with the professionals when in the studio.
2. Upgrade your recording gear
If you have some extra cash that you’d like to invest but don’t have an idea how, buying new gear is always a good choice. Expand your drum kit, get a better condenser mic, upgrade your instruments – anything that will improve your sound. These investments can be expensive, but if you’re upgrading your home studio, there’s no need to blow thousands of dollars on a pair of top-notch studio monitors. However, you are probably going to spend hours listening to your demo tracks at home, trying to find ways to improve them, which is why proper equipment for listening is integral to your craft. You can find good studio monitors for under $150 (such as Alesis, M-Audio, PreSonus and Yamaha) and high-quality headphones for under $70 (check out AKG, Sennheiser, Audio Technica and Beyerdynamic models) that will allow you to hear the full dynamic range of your music.
3. Pay off any debts
The most boring advice, but nevertheless important – if there’s a credit card (or any other) debt waiting for you, you should pay it off as soon as possible. By getting rid of that burden, you’ll have more freedom to take career risks instead of doing things you don’t want just to make ends meet. Taking care of your monthly budget and paying off your debts regularly is important. For example, you can take the advantage of gift cards to spend your money in more practical ways.
4. Rent rehearsal/studio space
You’ll do your best creative work in an environment designed for that, such as a professional studio/rehearsal space. Once you compose and arrange all the tracks and have all the lyrics ready, with a $10,000 investment, you can get 6-12 months out of it (depending on the location of the space).
5. Self-fund your next album
Take some money that you earned from your prior work (successful album or tour) and use it to fund your next music project. Instead of taking the record label’s money, you’ll have total creative freedom without anybody breathing down your neck. If there’s not enough to pay for the studio time, at least hire a good mixing engineer to do some real post-production of your sound.
6. Social media promotion
The best way to reach an audience. Period. Whether you’re promoting a new song, video, album, or show, take a small portion of your budget to boost your social media posts. It’s become difficult to reach people on social media without investing some money in advertising (this is especially true for Facebook). Throw a $20 at a post now and then, and with the right messaging and targeting, it’ll help you get your message across to your fans.
7. Videographer or photographer
Don’t be afraid to throw in some money for good photographer or videographer services. Even though you don’t have to hire the world’s best visual artists, you do have to make an investment for professional, high-quality work. The same goes for both photographers and videographers – we know that technology is widely available and that you can put in your own DIY projects, but these are trained and experienced professionals. Pay them for a professional video or live show shoot, because it will leave a lasting impression on your audience. High-quality visuals will increase your chances of getting noticed, winning opportunities, and getting good press.
Trying to make a living as a musician, or breaking into the music business, requires patience, dedication, hard work, and some luck. It’s important to avoid certain music-career killers, such as overindulgence, slacking off, and not looking at the bigger picture. Don’t shoot yourself in the foot by thinking that your music will be eternal after just one successful album. If you want to build yourself a sustainable music career, always invest in yourself and your music. Getting something to sound different and better is, after all, every musician’s obsession.