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35 Tips for Self-Management as a Musician


Most musicians say they want to make a lot of money with their music, but when it comes down to it, few are willing to do what it takes to have their music heard, promoted, and marketed. Self-management can be the cure-all for many dedicated, passionate, and talented musicians who are willing to put their careers on the line by working hard to carve out their own unique musical niche. The following tips are suggested for any musician who wants to manage their careers as a business. You need to develop the skills of being a good business manager. Here are 35 tips to get you started.

1. Know what you value most from making your music, and honor your values.

2. Set up your music career as a business, (sole proprietorship, partnership, or corporation?) and keep good records.

3. Decide what kind of career success you want, & evaluate your creative/business skills.

4. Prepare an overview, or draft of a career plan that address your goals.

5. Outline specific strategies to achieve your goals, and pick specific tasks to work on.

6. Remember that getting there IS the trip, and once you arrive somewhere…where next?

7. Don’t forget that killing time also kills success.

8. Don’t let a day go by without doing something to keep you to your plan.

9. Stay focused on what you have planned to do, and don’t run away from it.

10. Be sure to get regular feedback on your music from the music business contacts you have made.

11. Stay informed: read books and articles on the business of music regularly.

12. Organize your office space, and keep it organized.

13. Practice your communication skills in person, as well as on the phone.

14. Be sure to follow-up on any promises you have made to anyone in the business.

15. Create a Webpage, and promote it aggressively.

16. Join and support music/musician associations; participate in membership activities.

17. Remember that you are not alone as a musician, find unique networking opportunities.

18. Don’t stay frozen in one belief system; be willing to let go and learn.

19. When something doesn’t work…stop doing it, and don’t do it again.

20. Be sure to give yourself time to stop and do nothing. i.e. Rest!

21. Keep your physical self in good shape, and eat a reasonably healthy diet.

22. Identify who your most important friends and supporters are, and don’t forget them.

23. At least once a year, study some topic you would not normally consider studying.

24. Go out! Wherever your office is, take regular breaks, and pace yourself accordingly.

25. Seek inspiration from unlikely sources.

26. Don’t let any kind of success you create get to your head. Be grateful, and move on.

27. Don’t blame other people for your struggles.

28. Take advice only from those who have earned it.

29. If you can’t or don’t want to do some particular task…don’t; hire out intelligently.

30. Find out what your personal work rhythms are, and honor them.

31. Nurture your relationship with fans, and communicate with them regularly.

32. Only use attorneys, booking agents, and publicists with music business backgrounds.

33. Realize that the unexpected may show up at any moment, and be able to react to it.

34. Don’t follow trends, observe them and learn from them.

35. Realize that performing, promoting, and marketing in non-traditional ways are much easier to do than trying to act like a superstar.


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: [email protected]

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