Why Your Music Career Needs A Music Business Plan

You’ve heard it before, “It takes money to make money.” But getting start-up capital requires more than just talent. It means learning to communicate with investors. A business plan is a basic requirement. Sadly, the daunting task of creating one keeps many musicians from their well-deserved success. How can artists, who are not known for their business acumen, get past this major hurdle without blowing their start-up budget or feeling like corporate-beggars? Here’s how.

The following is a sample chapter/excerpt from the revolutionary tell-all book by music business veteran, MOSES AVALON, called 100 Answers to 50 Questions on the Music Business. Enjoy.

Moses Avalon

I’ve heard it over and over again from my younger clients: “Do I really need a business plan?” Simple answer, yes, you do… and yes, I know this sucks. This is the part where they start bargaining with themselves: “Why do I have to write this down—isn’t it obvious how we intend to make money?” Another simple answer, no; not to your would-be investors. Their exposure to the music business is probably the mainstream press, who tells them the industry is crumbling.

Over the past few years even major labels have had to justify costs and income projections to their stockholders with written business plans. So why shouldn’t you?

You have a great product (your music) but you need to think of your act just as any other startup business. With banks failing and our economy in a state of trauma your potential investors are scared out of their minds about what to do with their money. If they are even considering investing in a musical group then they are brave. You need to make them comfortable.

The good news: One great side effect of a deep recession is that it forces investors to gamble for a bigger potential return than they might in “good times.”  One thing everyone knows is that music is a gamble that can pay back big — if you know what you are doing. That’s why the money folk are paying any attention to you at all.  Once you get their consideration, you have to wow ’em.

A business plan is more than an advertisement that you’re competent. It’s a learning tool which will help you understand your business better than ever before. Experienced investors know this: The creation of a plan forces you to ask key questions you may not have otherwise thought of. Answering those questions brings with it a magical transformation, a bonding between you and the data that could not exist simply by “knowing” it.

When completed you’ll feel more powerful, talk with greater authority and be able to look people in the eye with stronger conviction than those who are just sitting passively with their hand out, saying, “Listen to how great I am.” And, between the artist with the hand out and the one with a strategic written plan, who do you think will get the nervous investor’s cash? You do. You’ve got proof, you’ve answered the tough questions. You’ve got a plan.

And that plan is the yeast that raises the dough.


Every potential investor really only has one key question they want you to be able to answer; how long? How long till they will get their initial money back? Five years? Three? Ten? Where is the “tipping point?” That’s the point where revenue will start to outweigh expenses and stay that way long enough to see significant returns?

If you have not anticipated every contingency as well as every source of revenue, how can you possibly answer that question honestly? Investors play a lot of real-life poker and if you don’t know the answer to that key question when asked, bluffing is an option that will usually end the meeting and kill the relationship. The business plan puts it all in writing. It says: here, it’s not just how I feel or what I think– the data backs me up. Now give me the friggen money!!!

Could you leave all this business plan business to a business manager? Sure, if you’ve got one. But in my experience, friends and family investors want to know that you are in control. They want to feel that you are taking a scientific approach to your career and are not just basing success on social equity, hanging out and writing great music.  Another thing the media has taught them– great music alone does not equal a great investment.  You want to invest with a act that has it together creatively and business-wise.


There is a right way and wrong way to do a business plan.

In my book, 100 Answers to 50 Questions on the Music Business, I give you some exhaustive details on this, but for this excerpt let’s say that there is only one right way to do it: hire a company that specializes in this service.

A full-on business plan for a start-up venture costs between $10,000–$30,000. But for a musical group, usually approaching friends and family for money, you don’t need to spend anywhere near that. Here’s why:

Full-length business plans are about 60 pages long and they start with a five to 10 page briefing called an “Executive Summary.” This is what most investors actually read, saving the other 50 or so pages of legal junk for their financial managers and lawyers.

If you’re only trying to raise a few hundred thousand, in most cases, you only need an Executive Summary, even though you’ll be calling it a “business plan.” It’s OK to interchange these terms as long as you know the actual difference. (But when talking to serious prospects, should they require the additional information found in a full plan, you should be ready to give it to them.)

A five to-ten–page “business plan” for a start-up can be put together relatively cheaply. Many services will do it for about $5,000.

At one time the Moses Avalon Company was charging that amount, but we’ve now done enough of them so that the price has dropped to $1,500. That’s the best price that I’m aware of for the quality of the work. You should shop around as I don’t keep up on what everybody charges for this. But make sure, however, that whoever you’re considering is giving you all the following:

— Complete bios of the band and the entire team.
— Mission statement. (Harder to write than it would seem.)
— Market research and analysis.
— Micro-Marketing strategy.
— Macro-Marketing strategy.
— Competitive Advantage

And most important . . .

— Five-year projection P&Ls (Profit and Loss) Statement, done by a professional accountant on an interactive spreadsheet, which includes every expense you can anticipate and every revenue stream you can think of.

This last item will be the clincher and will probably put their price way above $1,500. This item is what will reveal the tipping point mentioned above.


I suppose this could sound self-serving and a bit crass—using my book to pimp my services, but I’m only doing it so you know your alternatives and how much of your hard-earned cash you should be thinking about spending. If I never write another business plan, I’ll live. Believe me. But without a properly done plan, your career might not progress. I’m only giving you my price as a barometer. So, if someone is quoting you something lower for a “complete plan,” you know to be wary. Make sure you’re getting everything mentioned above.

Think even $1,500 is too much to spend? Okay, no problem. In 100 Answers to 50 Questions on the Music Business I give you some DIY tips that could reduce your costs to little more than zero– if you’ve got time to burn.

Business plans are a pain in the butt, but they will separate you from the thousands of bands, groups, and artists who say they’re serious but can’t even tell you at what point in their seven-year plan they will break even. They have the “Dude, it’s about the music, not the money” plan.

In other words, the “no plan,” plan.

Take a look at some of the other questions that are asked and answered in this book that takes a revolutionary approach to your career. Support this site and expand your knowledge by getting your copy today. CLICK HERE.


6 responses to “Why Your Music Career Needs A Music Business Plan”

  1. broshow says:

    It is true you DO need a business plan but not necessarily for the reasons cited here. You need one for YOU. Actually it would be more of a marketing plan. How are you going to build your career? Knowing what it going to cost you to record and go out on the road are important, but are you going to attract money from a venture capitalist? No. Can you get some money from family and friends? Probably, and it will because they believe in you not because you have a business plan. They wouldn’t understand it anyway.
    The business/marketing plan exercise is to force you to think about how the future will look. What is your strategy for putting your band and its’ music in the hands of as many potential fans as possible? A business plan that focuses on market analyses etc. doesn’t have much to do with your chances of success. That will depend on your determination and resourcefulness, the quality of your music and the proverbial 10,000 hours.

    • Secured Party says:

      You seem to have no real idea of what you’re talking about. Marketing plans and Business plans are NOT the same thing. Marketing is a part of business… not an overall plan.

      Sadly supposed creative people have no grasp on how great it is to be creative with a business plan.

  2. Maria says:

    As a musician/producer with a band, the tough part is forecasting the unknown. We just don’t know when something we do will generate income or, when it does, how much.

  3. Max Vasquez says:

    I had my business plan together in 2005 by a Double-MBA genious from Brighton and SD State. SO IMPORTANT! Can’t agree with Moses strongly enough. The best 3k I spent on my business at the time. In this day and age we must consider ourselves small business entrepreneurs as much as artists, and learn how to manage our businesses or it could just end up a nice dream/hobby.
    Because of my biz plan I was able to get a few small business loans for studio equipment and enough collateral proof to help me get my house! I have since written 5 biz plans for clients, helping them get tours and their companies started. I constantly tweak and update my own on a yearly basis. Thanks for covering this important component of a successful music business career, Moses!

  4. I did business plan for one artist, and asked another artist for one (she was working with someone else), but she never got it to me. I think they are very important because they force you to ask what you are going to sell and to whom. When you start trying to calculate how much merchandise you need to sell to generate a decent living, or how many tickets you need to sell (which means how many tickets at what price at which venues how many times a year) you begin to grasp what you need to do. And either this looks good to you, or you decide it’s better to get a day job that actually pays the bills and to just pay music for fun rather than income.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.