5 Important Business Skills for Artists

Published August 8th, 2014

Most artists in the US today have multiple income streams. Take for example a successful musician: he plays in his city’s symphony, accompanies for local theatre productions, teaches private lessons, serves on the adjunct faculty at the university, runs a small band, and composes new work.

In order to manage multiple activities and income streams, successful entrepreneurial artists employ these 5 business skills:

1. Financial Know-How

Income and expenses from multiple sources require an organized system of detailed record keeping. Some employers may be paying wages, withholding your taxes and social security, while others pay you as an independent contractor. Tracking these incomes differences in addition to recording your expenses for each of these activities becomes critical for tax filing.

2. Marketing/Social Media

For many independent artists, maintaining an active web presence is taking the place of old school marketing. This includes a well-designed website and strong involvement in social media. Engaging in online conversations and highlighting your colleagues can be an effective way of remaining active in your professional network. Seek the appropriate balance between sharing your own accomplishments and supporting the endeavors of your peers.

3. Development

Development includes finding the financial support for your work and cultivating people who believe in what you are doing. Funding includes everything from crowd sources, grant writing, arts council fellowships, corporate partnerships, private donations, and in-kind contributions. Business savvy in this arena allows artists to pick the appropriate funding strategies for any given project.

4. Communication

As performing artists, you have been practicing communication and collaboration throughout your training, in dance ensembles, music groups, and production teams. These skills will help you navigate the business challenges in your career that include negotiating contracts, speaking with the press, working towards a vision for shared projects.photo1

5. Organization/Management

For many artists, business tasks are no fun and they take valuable time away from creative projects. In any given day an artist might pay bills, book a gig, apply for a grant, respond to emails, and write a press release, in addition to rehearsing, teaching a lesson, completing a new work, and perform. Excellent management skills maximize the time you spend being an artist.

As you go through your college program, seek opportunities to supplement your artistic growth with the development of strong business skills.

Bryn real headshot


Bryn Sowash is the founder of Skitterbug (www.skitterbug.co), virtual assistance specialized for performing artists. She is also a music director and theatre educator.

Recommended for you

Acceptd + Stagetime: Top YAP Tracker Alternative for Operas

Published May 6th, 2024

For opera companies like yours to thrive in the digital age, audition software is no...

performing arts

A Day in the Life of a Computer Animation Student at Full Sail University

Published March 21st, 2024

What a Full Sail computer animation student can expect when they’re on campus for...


3 Ways to Make the Most of Your Summer Festival Experience

Published February 15th, 2024

So you’re applying for summer programs, and may be starting to think about what teacher...

summer festival

Cookie consent

Please choose which cookies you want to consent to.