Musicians are often both artists and business people. Doing so many things requires knowledge and time. The internet is a useful tool for finding helpful resources that can help musicians but it's also a minefield for clickbait content and misinformation.
This article will share some of the most helpful content, tools, and programs available online and offline. We have included examples of podcasts, blogs, books, forums, and even mental health resources, but this is hardly an exhaustive list.
Essential content for independent artists
Artists today have more access to information than ever before and that information comes in all mediums. Not only are there books about the music business, but there are also social media accounts, podcasts, videos, online articles, and more. Below, we highlight some of our favorite channels from this group.
- Ari's Take features video content, articles for artists, advice from music industry veterans who have worked with some of the biggest artists, artist interviews and more. It's run by Ari Herstand, an American musician, songwriter, author, actor, and blogger based in Los Angeles, California. Join Ari's email list here.
- Burtismo is a music marketing company with awesome content on its YouTube channel. The channel description says "get the most advanced music marketing tips to promote your music weekly...our channel covers everything needed to succeed in the modern music industry, with weekly tips and advice to help get your music out there." The videos on their channel cover things like digital distribution and how to upload your music to Apple Music and Spotify.
- Although there are many books about various parts of the business of music, one book is often touted as the most important. All You Need To Know About the Music Business: 10th Edition by Donald Passman is that book. From the Amazon description, "For more than twenty-five years, All You Need to Know About the Music Business has been universally regarded as the definitive guide to the music industry. Now in its tenth edition, Donald Passman leads novices and experts alike through what has been the most profound change in the music business since the days of wax cylinders and piano rolls. For the first time in history, music is no longer monetized by selling something—it’s monetized by how many times listeners stream a song. And that completely changes the ecosystem of the business, as Passman explains in detail."
- r/WeAreTheMusicMakers is a forum on Reddit. r/WeAreTheMusicMakers is Reddit's home for discussing a wide range of topics within the music-making process in any music genre, including writing, composing, recording, live performance, mixing, mastering, music theory, and more! Thousands of musicians, including music producers, and all types of career musicians contribute content and add to the discussion.
Helpful programs for musicians
Some musicians are fortunate to live in areas that offer private or public assistance programs to artists. These could look like grant opportunities, mental health resources, or several other formats. Examples of these kinds of programs, some local and some national, are below.
- Backline is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that connects music industry professionals and their families with mental health and wellness resources. Backline wants to build a safer and more supportive music industry by helping the music community access quality mental health care providers that understand this line of work. It's great that there is this kind of assistance for career musicians, especially in the wake of Covid-19.
- New music incubators and accelerator programs are popping up all over the place. The programs often offer a wide range of services and some even offer financial assistance. The programs are often localized to specific cities or states. One example is Cincinnati Music Accelerator which is described as "Ohio’s first music career accelerator organization focused on making Cincinnati a music city through job placement and education. Another example is Washington DC's future of music coalition which supports "a musical ecosystem where artists flourish and are compensated fairly and transparently for their work."
- The Digilogue is a diverse music and tech community of creators and industry professionals. The Digilogue curates conversations and programming around music industry education, career resources, and artist discovery content. Programs like the Digilogue help artists and new music industry professionals to find and participate in their own music community through in-person meetups and video content. They are a great resource for musicians. You can sign up for their mailing list at the bottom of this page.
Useful online tools for performers
There are a ton of online music resources built specifically for musicians. From sourcing gear to promoting a show and everything in between, this short list is just the tip of the iceberg. Forums are a great place to find more of these kinds of career tools.
- Reverb is an online marketplace for new, used, and vintage music gear. It was founded in 2013 by David Kalt, shortly after he purchased the musical instrument store Chicago Music Exchange and became frustrated with then-available options for buying and selling guitars. The platform allows you to buy and sell directly within an online community of musicians.
- Songkick and Bandsintown are two similar websites that help musicians promote upcoming concerts. Songkick is a concert discovery service owned by Warner Music Group. The service allows users to search for upcoming concert events in their area, and also track individual artists to receive notifications of upcoming shows in their area. Bandsintown is a music website, which allows users to receive notifications about tours and bands playing in the user's area. It also has tools for artists to manage tour dates. Bandsintown was included in Business Insiders 2014 list of the world's greatest apps.
- OPNR connects musicians with local performance opportunities and local concert organizers with a musician's local fanbase. If you are looking to book gigs locally, this is a great tool.
- Musicasa is a community-powered platform that connects music lovers with musicians to co-create highly personal home concerts. It's a great example of the online tools that are helping to connect musicians with their fans.
- Green Room helps you get the most out of your music gigs by helping with planning, organization, finances, and more.
In conclusion, being a musician can be difficult and it can help to use some of the tools out there. Also, remember to utilize the tools, such as online resources that make the most sense for you rather than trying to do everything. This is hardly an exhaustive list of resources and, as the music industry changes, it's important to try to keep your tool chest up to date.