How To Become A Music Business Consultant

Brenna McFarland

Brenna McFarland

Content Specialist
440 Industries

Introduction

In the competitive world of music, there are layers upon layers of complexities that lie between the artist and their music being produced, recorded, published, and heard by mass audiences. So how can one navigate this tricky industry? That is where Music Business Consultants come into play. 

Ever heard of someone you know pursuing a career in this niche field? The most likely answer is no — it does not have a particularly established reputation as a well-known job opportunity. 

But let me tell you, the music industry would be far from flourishing if music consultants had not been paving the path for artists for decades. It can be said with certainty that this career is a pillar on which the music artists of all genres rely.

So what does this job entail? Could it be right for you — either hiring a music consultant or becoming one? Read on to find out!

1. Job Description

To be a master of music business consultancy, you must have a wide array of knowledge about seemingly every area of the field. They must have experience with management and promotion as well as understanding the theory behind composing music. They define what “good music” is and how their client can achieve it. 

Beyond this, they help in the writing and production process of the music. A music business consultant serves as a guide through writing, helping to aid the artist as their editor. They then connect the artist with a recording studio, or perhaps even get them noticed by a record label. They help to hone the artist’s music into a particular genre and to stay true to it throughout their album(s). Talk about honing — they also focus in on a brand image for the artist and devise business plans to make this brand more succinct, unique, and noticed by executives and audiences. 

Moreover, a music consultant advises their client about all things business and legal-related: copyright, how to keep autonomy if they sign to a record label, how to send out press releases, if and when to hire a manager, royalties…the list goes on and on!

2. How Music Consultants Can Help Your Band or Solo Career

It is easy to get lost in the figurative crowd of the music industry. There are thousands of artists who seem as if they’re just like you or better. Comparison is the thief of joy, as a wise man once said, so the first step is to realize your unique and powerful gift of music that you want to share with others. But even if you know this, it is unfortunate that upwards of 90% of artists with tangible talent stay undiscovered not because of their uniqueness, but because of a lack of exposure to the right people and places. How can this change? Music business consultants can help lower the statistic.

Not only do music business consultants have the power to connect artists to labels, studios, and managers, but they help the formulation of short-term goals and a long-term vision for blossoming soloists or bands. They serve as the all-access guided tour, if you will, of the music world, with exclusive opportunities and navigational directions on where the path should lead in order to make the best early on-set business decisions.

This is where the experiences and current expertise of music consultants is key — their fundamental learned knowledge mixed with connections and “wokeness” to current music industry affairs is crucial to making the most informed decisions about their client’s path. They strive to stir up their client’s career by making their name known and making sure they have stability within the industry, whether that be through a label or being an independent artist.

3. Skill Sets Every Music Consultant Needs

Although this career might seem pretty self-explanatory, it is far from easy — and just because you have a knowledge of music doesn’t mean you are fit for the job. So what do you need to become a music business consultant?

It’s all about your ear and your connections. You need to differentiate good music — with a solid tempo, beat, attractive or interesting lyrics and vocals — from not so good tunes. More than anything, you must be able to pinpoint the marketability of the songs. What target audience is this appealing to? How does one access this public? These questions should be constantly running through your mind if you want to advise bands how to achieve longterm success.

Additionally, you must have a vast array of connections within the music industry that will help bolster your client’s network when launching into this world as a novice. Most of your clients will be beginners in the industry, with minimal or no knowledge of who relevant people are like recording engineers, record label exec, managers, and more. It is part of your job as their consultant to advise them on how to manuever the networking world and get an “in” with the right people. As they say, success is sometimes all about who you know. A consultant must have connections and use them for the benefit of their client. 

It is also important to aid your client in identifying and solidifying their brand. Establishing a brand is what sets up a relationship between the artist and their customers/fanbase. When you see a famous band on the Internet, you also see their logo, their merch, sometimes even the nickname they call their fans. They are in a very specific genre that fans are attracted to. It is necessary to set up that brand identity as an artist in order to maintain consistency and relevancy — saying to the world, “This is who I am”. The music industry craves, even demands, unique individuality from its artists. A music consultant should have a knowledge of the various genres and through hearing the client’s music, should be able to pinpoint their eccentricities and channel it into a congruent brand image.

4. So..Should You Become a Music Business Consultant?

There are pros and cons, as with every career field. If you want to become a music consultant, understand that this is often an underrated field that artists take for granted — it is a common (incorrect) assumption that hiring a consultant equivalates to a one-way ticket to fame. Some will not want to pay the adequate rates for your services. Artists are often fickle beings, with mood swings and egos. They notoriously do not take constructive criticism well, even if they are the ones employing you to help them. A consultant must be willing and able to work with these sometimes difficult personality types. 

On a positive note, you get the privilege of working with music everyday! You delve into the brands, the products, the recording and distributing of songs with creative people who are as passionate about their craft as you. Your creative side will flourish on a daily basis. And it doesn’t hurt that you can make upwards of $60,000 a year as base pay. This number will only increase as you and your clientele gain visibility!

5. Conclusions

I don’t know about you, but I think that music business consultants have pretty cool jobs. They help the music world go round, motivating and connecting artists to opportunities to make it big. 

So whether or not you are an artist looking for guidance, a professional who has the makings of a music consultant, or simply a music lover, let’s praise the field of music business consultancy for providing a stable backbone for artists and the music industry as a whole!

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Brenna McFarland

Brenna McFarland

Brenna McFarland is a senior Communications Studies and Vocal Performance, concentration in Opera Major at James Madison University in Harrisonburg, VA. She is both a professional opera singer with over five years of experience travelling around the United States and Europe to work with teachers and coaches from across the globe, and a future businesswoman looking to enter into the PR and Marketing sector of the arts and business world. Academically, she serves as the Vice President of the JMU Opera Guild, where she coordinates meetings, facilitates mentorships between teachers and students, and plans events with over 100 students who are looking for more opportunities in classical music. She is also a member of the JMU Speech Team and has been on the Dean's List for her academic accomplishments for the past two years. Brenna is passionate, driven, and a hard-worker who understands how to manuever the complexities of connect with others in a unique and sensitive manner.

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