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35 Tips for Self-Management
as a Musician
by Christopher Knab - Fourfront Media & Music - May 2003

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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. Donít forget that killing time also kills success

8. Donít 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 donít 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. Donít stay frozen in one belief system; be willing to let go and learn

19. When something doesnít workÖstop doing it, and donít 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 donít 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. Donít let any kind of success you create get to your head. Be grateful, and move on

27. Donít blame other people for your struggles

28. Take advice only from those who have earned it

29. If you canít or donít want to do some particular task...donít; 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. Donít 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: chris@chrisknab.net

Chris Knab's new book,
'Music Is Your Business' is available NOW from the Music Biz Academy bookstore.

Visit the
FourFront Media and Music website for more information on the business of music from Christopher Knab.

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