Ten Essential Tips for Making a Living With Your Music

“Hey, buddy, got any advice for making it in the music business?”

Ask 10 people this question and you’ll get as many different answers. Even Christopher Knab, the author of this article, says as much in an introduction to Tip Number Nine:

Everybody has their own list of Do’s and Don’ts and the only real value they have is that they present you with “opinions” about what to do to get established as a musician.

In short, listen to everyone, but only seriously consider the advice of those who have achieved some measure of success, and even then accept it along with a measured dose of skepticism. There is no single path, Knab says, and he prefaces his list by saying it represents the habits of musicians he has “known and admired.”

As with most of these lists, a few tips are common sense: know your instrument well (a significant investment of time for keyboard players!). Play out a lot. Get people to know and like your music by promoting it. But there are a few nuggets that are tragically unknown or ignored, such as protect your songs by applying for a copyright and get a good entertainment law attorney to represent you before you sign a deal.

I would add that you should decide what your own definition of success is before you set out; that way, you’ll know more or less what sort of advice to solicit and from whom. Once the path is charted, Knab admits that your best teacher will be your own experience. But be warned: you’re courting disaster by trying to go it alone without any counsel from those who have already been there.

Christopher Knab is an independent music business consultant based in Seattle, Washington. He is available for private consultations on promoting and marketing independent music, and can be reached by email at: chris@chrisknab.net. His website is http://www.musicbizacademy.com/


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