The most successful musicians treat their music as a business. Businesses exist for one reason: to make money. Regardless of how high-minded and spiritually sound your music is, you have to sell your product to a market. This requires refining your mastery of your craft to incredible heights and putting in long hours. If you treat your career professionally, then you stand a chance to turn your art into a profession. This corporate approach to the music business is how you turn your hobby into a career. This is also how you attract the kind of talent you need in order to succeed in the game.
First off, you need to know what music is. Music is intellectual property. Your music is your baby. Babies need protection. You can protect these babies through copyrights, trademarks, and contracts.
Second, your music has a perceived value. We generally refer to perceived value as a price. Your perceived value will differ from opposing parties. Opposing parties include managers, gigging agents, venue owners, and label executives. Reaching an agreement between all of these parties is call negotiation. In general, fair negotiation results in everyone feeling a little screwed. No one should emerge from a negotiation as a conqueror. You should make money and they should make money. Unfair deals result in sour feelings and short careers.
Third, performers are not themselves. You are reading this as yourself. Your fans hear your music as the image they’ve constructed in their head of who you are. Never forget that performers are putting on a show. You are not real to the fans. All your fans see is the image that you give them. You can give them hope, love, hate, or inspiration. That’s the art that you perform. Never forget that this image your portray is bigger than yourself. This is especially important when you strike it big or else you’ll turn into a monster. It’s easy for a little luck and money to go to your head.
Fourth, not everyone is on your side. Your agent wants more money from you. Your manager wants money from you. Your other band members want more money. There are only so many dollars to go around. Yes, you’re all friends today, but when you and your friends all have spouses and children then things can get ugly. Involve lawyers early on in your career to iron our details. For example, how do you divide the royalties from a record label versus a BlueRay distribution? Or YouTube earnings? Or what if a band member secures a gig in Madison Square Garden? Are the same terms for previous agreements in effect? Do these situations call for individualized attention?
Professionalism is all the difference between a talented hobbyist and a pro. Professionalism is a habit that is cultivated over time. It can be the difference you need to make it big.