Treat Your Band Like the Business It Is

If you play music and make money at it, you’re in a business. And if you’re serious about maintaining that income, or making more of it, then you need to make sure you understand the basics of operating that business. In fact, this article by Brad Sugars in Entrepreneur covers the five basic principles you must know to make your band – your business – a success.

  1. Know where you want your band to go. Got vision? You’ll need it, or you’ll go nowhere really fast. A plan will help you set realistic goals. But watch out: if your plan is “just play out and have fun,” everyone in the band will get distracted sooner or later. We humans have an inherent need for direction, and it’s up to the bandleader to provide it, or everyone else will find his own way.
  2. Learn how to sell. It isn’t hard, but it is necessary if you’re going to get out of the garage. If you’re not comfortable asking for gigs, find someone in your band who is. And if no one in the band is willing to step up, or if you’re considering working solo, then take on the job and educate yourself. Read books, watch videos (YouTube is our friend here), and listen to CDs. And learn how to network. It’s an essential skill for anyone who wants success.
  3. Sell what your customer wants to buy. Sounds obvious, right? Don’t book a metal band in a jazz club. But it goes beyond that – you have to really listen to your customer to find out what his needs are. You’re a classic rock band? The club owner has dozens of classic rock bands that want to play. What he needs is more people in his club. If you have a mailing list of 500 people, some positive press, and you regularly pack clubs, tell him that. Better yet, hand him a press kit that has pictures of happy, dancing fans and testimonials from other club owners.
  4. Get the cash flowing in. Everybody knows that you can’t start at the top, yet some of those same folks try to do it anyway. Your band may be worth $1,000 a night, but if you’re starting out, those gigs probably won’t be waiting for you on your first outing. Build the business. Play for $400 or $500 a night to get the cash flowing in and your name established. Collect email addresses, hand out business cards, and get a buzz going. You can ask for more later when you’re in demand. But get the cash flowing in. Profits will come later.
  5. Just do it. That you want to do it is reason enough, and there are plenty of people out there who will tell you that you shouldn’t or that you can’t. Do it anyway.

And remember – there are no magic bullets, no shortcuts. Stick to the proven principles that all businesses have had to master, and you’ll find your rewards much faster.


Brad Sugars is the founder and chairman of ActionCOACH. As an entrepreneur, author and business coach, he has owned and operated more than two dozen companies including his main company, ActionCOACH, which has more than 1,000 offices in 34 countries.


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