Be an artist first

6 Things you should consider when trying to make money with your music

By Brian Reidinger

As a smaller independent music house, we often find ourselves in the crosshairs of a steady influx of composers, artists, and bands who are looking for an outlet for their particular brand of music. This may be acquiring licensing assistance for television, advertising, movies/movie trailers, video games, their sister’s wedding video (we’ll get back to you), etc… To that end, we have assembled a buzzfeed-esk “6 Things You Should Consider When trying to make money with your music” list. For the Rock star,  the Juilliard sophomore, or even the David Helfgott–esque introvert savant sitting in his home studio, here’s a basic roadmap of directives and suggestions for attracting the attention of people and businesses, both large and small, who can help you in finding your way towards turning your inner Mozart into real world income. 

1 – Be an artist first

We found you BECAUSE of your art, NOT because of your cool gear or your great elevator pitch, but because we recognize the universal language that you speak; music. Everything in the world we live in – money, relationships, marriage, children, well meaning friends and family who say in that cloying, faux loving tone, “Wow! You’re really talented, but what’s your back-up plan?” will conspire to separate you from the artist within you. To you we say, do not let that go. At In The Groove, we know better than most what you do – you speak an emotional language. You tell stories with your creativity. This is the world we operate in every day- messages, stories, emotions… and your ability to convey that through your music is why we are talking to you in the first place. Be the artist that you are, and do that first.

2 – Understand your business

You are now crossing the threshold, the line of demarcation between, ‘I’m a pure artist. Can I sleep on your couch?’ to, ‘Yes, I write music for television, advertising, movies, games, other artists… let’s negotiate a reasonable fee, and my trailing rights.’ You must educate yourself on the basics of licensing and publishing such as copyrights, writer’s shares, publisher’s shares, PRO’s, contract terms, Work-For-Hires, etc… This is a business, and no one will do for you what you cannot, or will not, do for yourself. Know when to say ‘Yes,’ but more importantly, when to say ‘No.’ Understanding this business will guide you to your success.

3 – Know what you are giving up

As you move through your career, you must be aware of what exactly you will be giving up as you negotiate each deal you consider. Developing good instincts as to what, and when, you surrender certain rights, or hold on to them (the aforementioned ‘Yes’ and ‘No’ conundrum), versus your short and long term gains or losses, is an essential component of being at the helm of your own thriving career.

4 – Know what you are gaining

This is an important question, but one that is governed by more than a simplistic monetary metric. Yes, money is important; you need gas in your car, food on your table, clothes on your offspring, your dog’s unplanned knee surgery – but nobody is going to pay you JUST to be you, unless they have nefarious designs on something, or someone, in your life.

5 – Do the right thing

Even if it seems like a short-term loss; doing the right thing builds trust. And in business, trust is more important than money. People who trust you will spend their money with you, likely more than once. And something we know all too well is that Return Business is good. They will also speak positively about you within their sphere of influence. It’s important you know the difference between right and wrong, and always do what you know is right. What you’ll gain is a thriving career and a good reputation.

6 – Be conscious about how your emotions interact with your business dealings 

As we all know, we artists can be… well… filled with lots of emotions. In all of this, your emotions belong in one place; woven into the music you’ve crafted. That is what this language conveys; a feeling, a sensation, something beyond the written word. Close your eyes and listen… BUT!! Engaging in rational business practices demands that you set aside those emotions and rely on your intellectual compass. Bring fear, anger, insecurity, or anxiety to any negotiation, and you will be governed by those fleeting, momentary impulses, and they will not steady you in times of potential stress.

In fact, they are far more likely to betray and mislead you; leaving you far too busy navigating and reacting to them to rationally and thoughtfully consider what has been offered to you, asked of you, or potentially taken from you. It is normal to feel what you feel; everybody does. That is what it means to be human. But you must master the skill of ‘setting aside’ those feelings in the moment, and instead, trust your knowledge, wisdom, and rational self… Set aside those ‘feelings’ that naturally well up inside; for their prominence at any negotiation is likely to betray what is actually in your best business interests. 

Final thoughts: 

It’s not easy work pursuing a steady income in and from the music business. However, if you are one of those who aspires to work in this industry, remember these simple things – be an artist first, know your strengths and your weaknesses, know when to say yes and when to say no, and most of all, be knowledgeable; educate yourself, be aware, and… have a little fun. It is the music business after all.



Owner - In the Groove Music

BRIAN REIDINGER is an accomplished drummer, composer, producer, and successful business owner.  He studied piano for six years; from the age of nine, and discovered the drums, his lifelong passion, at the age of eleven. For the past 24-years, he has been a founding partner, and longtime Creative Director/Chief Composer/Producer at Minneapolis based, “In The Groove Music LLC (www.inthegroovemusic.com);” crafting jingles, scores, and songs for television, advertising, news, sports, video games, etc… In 2019, he will be finishing a solo project, producing 34-tracks for Austin, TX based Drew Davis, and co-writing/producing a new World/Ambient collection with Peter Phippen and Victoria Shoemaker, in addition to the daily tasks of running a 12-person company.

Reidinger continues to maintain an ‘artist friendly’ studio and live schedule: including Joe Shaheen’s ‘The Wrong Omar’ project, for whom he played drums, mixed and produced his 2017 “Rockin’ Chair” release (http://thewrongomar.com/); drums for Laura Lou’s “Echo” release (https://www.lauraloumusic.com/), and live performances with Minneapolis based, “The Twins Of Franklin (https://www.thetwinsoffranklin.com/). He also collects wine, skis, plays golf, tennis, cooks whenever possible, and with his wife is the proud co-shepherd of a lively Bernese Mountain Dog.

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625 2nd Avenue South Suite 102
Minneapolis, MN 55402



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