Business Plan: Road Map to Success
What’s In It and Why You Need One
John Stiernberg © 2003
more people I speak with, the more convinced I am
that we all get into the music business because of
passion and opportunity. For those with strong creative
and musical chops and ambition, it’s common for recording
artists, musicians and songwriters to experience
a certain level of success and popularity without
having a business plan. However, without having a
written plan that outlines goals and expectations,
many times one’s career is filled with disappointment
and burnout rather than artistic and financial success.
Can financial problems and workload issues be anticipated
and prevented? Can musicians learn from the business
world and succeed without “selling out”? The answer
to both questions is yes! Whether you are already making
all or part of your income from playing, composing,
or singing, this article provides practical guidelines
and inspiration for creating or updating your business
plan. So get yourself a cup of coffee or soda, settle
in a comfortable chair and read on…
Why have a business plan?
You may have heard the expression “If you do not
know where you are going, any road will take you there.”
Most businesses (music, entertainment, or otherwise)
do not have a written business plan. They can make
money, attract talented artists and receive a lot of
press. However, if they do not have a complete business
plan, they are at risk, and many fail as a result.
Here are three key reasons to create a written plan:
Stick. The plan includes financial and
non-financial objectives with a timeline and roadmap
so you can track your progress.
Management Tool. This allows you to
identify viable business opportunities, and to avoid
or manage the opportunities that don’t make sense for
Financing. Your business plan helps you
anticipate cash needs. A solid business plan is a requirement
of any worthy financial institution—even your “rich
What’s in a business plan?
A business plan is a written system of documents
that describes 1) What you are going to do, 2) How
you are going to do it, and 3) What the consequences
The main text can be 15 to 20 pages long. In addition,
the plan document includes financial details and
supplemental material that are included in the reference
section or appendix. Here is a brief description
of the contents of each of five main sections or
1: Description of your company, business,
and your role in the music industry.
2: Description of products and services. This
is where you describe what you do in detail, plus the
features, benefits, and advantages of your product
vs. the competition. “Products” are what you get paid
for. Examples of products include:
Songwriter: original compositions, songbooks, records
• Musician or Performer: repertoire, stage show, records,
• Engineer or Producer: recording projects, studio
time, technical services
3: Market overview and marketing strategy.
This is where you describe the size and growth of target
market segments, the competitive environment, your
promotional strategy, product distribution channels,
types of performance venues, your sales force (which
may only be you or your manager!), and target audience.
4: Management and organizational overview.
This section describes your business experience, history,
and personnel needs. In addition to yourself, comment
here on band members, collaborators, agents, managers,
accountants, lawyers, or other service providers who
round out your team. Future needs refers to people
who will be added to the business as it grows.
5: Financial summary. This section includes
$ projections for sales revenue, expenses, sources
and uses of working capital (cash) over a three-year
period. These are summarized briefly in the text of
the plan, and shown in full detail in the appendix.
Good business plans also include an Executive Summary.
This is a one or two page document that includes the
essence of the whole business plan. Executive summaries
are helpful when seeking financing, especially when
many people are reviewing the plan.
Whether you are thinking about “turning pro,” going
full time, or planning to grow an existing career,
creating a business plan is essential for long-term
success. Your business plan will guide you and help
prevent you from making mistakes and bad decisions.
Once you begin to implement your business plan, you’ll
find that you are spending more time making or recording
great music, bringing entertainment to new audiences,
and making a good living doing something you love.
From my standpoint, it’s worth the effort!
the Author: John
Stiernberg is co-founder of Succeeding In Music,
a multimedia publisher of business education tools
for music industry professionals. John is a co-founder
and presenter of the Business Chops workshop training
next workshop, Business Chops: Success Coaching for
Musicians and Songwriters takes place Sunday, November
2, at The Knitting Factory in Hollywood from 9 am –
6 pm. For more details visit: www.Business-Chops.com.
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