July 21, 2022
For any musician, whether professional or amateur, music skill isn’t quite enough to get the job done in today’s landscape. For pros, a host of business and creative skills are necessary, and even for hobbyists, certain non-musical skills are quite useful in keeping things going. Here, we’ll discuss some of the more useful non-music skills you can have as a musician.
Even if you’re not in business, managing money well helps tremendously in music. Gear is simply expensive, and knowing how to spend wisely, when to wait, and when and how to seek deals or sell stuff off can be valuable for hobbyists and pros alike.
Music takes time. From practicing to group rehearsals to writing to recording, there’s a lot to do – and that’s before you add in everything you need to do to monetize if you’re a pro. It pays to know how to streamline, stay efficient, and spend time wisely.
Like it or not, computers are at the heart of recording and promoting music, and audio and video applications especially can be taxing on computers. Being a power user if not a full-blown IT pro can be super handy in the music making process.
Old school rock stars didn’t need to know anything about visual art and creative. But hobbyists and independent pros would do well to have basic skills in video, photography, and graphic design. Even if you don’t design your own album covers, for example, it’s helpful if you know at least how to resize and deliver various formats.
Many musicians are professional electrical, computer, or mechanical engineers. These pros have a distinct advantage because they can repair gear, build gear, and head-off problems with good maintenance habits. Even if you’re not building custom mix consoles, at least knowing how to replace a guitar nut or clean out a keyboard can save money and time.
Number one if you’re trying to make a living in music is realizing and embracing that you’re an entrepreneur and a small business owner. Poor business management skills are at the heart of most music business failures, so it pays to know how to build and maintain a business. Even if you don’t have a degree in business, a few business management classes will make a world of difference.
Marketing is the heart of business, and many musicians resist learning this game because it’s overwhelming or because the idea of “sales” leaves a sour taste in their mouths. But marketing is how businesses bring products to bear and communicate with potential fans and buyers. Understanding fundamental principles of marketing goes a long way in music.
CRM stands for customer relationship management, and in tandem with proper marketing strategy it’s the meat of how businesses stay in touch with potential leads, keep current customers happy, and maximize the financial value of each customer. It could be maintaining a simple fan mailing list, checking in with venue owners periodically, or implementing a full-blown marketing and outreach system with dedicated CRM software, but wherever you are in your music business, you need to be able to maintain customer relationships.
Music is a simple thing on the surface – just play, sing, and have a great time – but in practice making music brings up a huge variety of skills. Music should be job one, for sure, but be sure to give some attention to the skills that support making music.
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"Make a joyful noise unto the Lord all of the earth; make a loud noise and rejoice and sing praises. Sing to the Lord with the harp and the voice of the psalm." - Psalm 98:4-5