Business Ideas for Artists and Musicians

Some entrepreneurs are born with artistic or musical talent. Unfortunately, it can seem that you have to sacrifice doing something you love in order to do something more profitable. The good news is that’s simply not true!

The following is a list of art and music business ideas that will help artistically and musically talented people put their creative skills to use in a way that can bring them financial success.

Best Business Ideas for Artists and Musicians for 2020

1. Adult Coloring Book Company

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People who are highly creative and have a knack for artistic expression may enjoy, and be good at running, an adult coloring book company. Business owners often design coloring books themselves, at least until their business is well established, and creating a coloring book requires a considerable amount of artistic skill.

With the recent explosion in the adult coloring book industry, there is excellent growth potential. Some entrepreneurs have made over $500,000 selling books in the past few years. An adult coloring book company may be able to add a line of children’s coloring books to increase profits.

Learn how to start an adult coloring book company.

2. Art Consulting Business

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It probably goes without saying that art consulting is best for those with an artistic background. This includes practicing artists and those with a formal education in subjects such as art and art history. This provides the necessary background to understand both how the art world and artists themselves function.

The exact profit of this business depends on how many clients you have and how many works of art you help to sell for artists and procure for collectors. Your initial years will probably start low, but once you have a steady array of clients from whom you are getting ten to twenty percent commission per artistic work, it's easy to develop a steady cash flow.

Learn how to start an art consulting business.

3. Art Gallery

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The best art gallery manager is an artist themselves: someone who is aware of different modes and styles of art as well as its history and future trends. The manager should have a sense of individual style that the different works on display help accentuate, which helps the business stand out from its competition.

The profit an art gallery can make is variable. Obviously, the amount of profit is tied to the amount of art sold and the price of that art. It's important to work out a fair price with the artist: they want to feel properly compensated for their materials used and hours spent, while you want to receive at least fifty percent of the sale.

Learn how to start an art gallery.

4. Art Lessons Business

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This business is ideal for veteran, practicing artists. It is also educational in nature, so it is good for those who have formal or informal experience with being a teacher or teacher's assistant. Your entire business model will revolve around prolonged contact with strangers, so being able to engage and connect with them immediately is crucial.

Depending on your amount of clients, this can be a very profitable art business. If you imagine a “standard work day” of teaching for eight hours and charging students a lower end of $50 an hour, then the job can easily net over $100,000 a year, with very little overhead and the ability to control your own hours and do what you love.

Learn how to start an art lessons business.

5. Art Supply Store

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This business is best for those who want to inspire artists of all kinds by offering quality products and professional guidance. Owners should have a strong appreciation for fine art, but they should also be open to helping newcomers find their feet.

Profits will largely depend on the types of items you sell. Common items, such as paints, pencils, and sketchbooks, may only net a small profit margin. However, more expensive items may sell at a 30% or higher margin. Owners may need to source their products from a variety of wholesalers to maximize their profits.

Learn how to start an art supply store.

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6. Calligraphy Business

Calligraphy Business Image

It goes without saying that this business is best for someone that is highly skilled in calligraphy. Since much of the business comes from designing things like wedding invitations, this job is good for artists or those with an artistic vision. For both the event-planning and instructional aspects of the business, being a “people person” is very helpful.

The exact amount of profit your business can make will vary. There are so many services you can offer (in terms of writing, teaching, or simply selling pre-made products online) that it is entirely possible for your own profit to be greater than $50,000 yearly.

Learn how to start a calligraphy business.

7. Caricature Business

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Lighthearted, artistically inclined individuals who possess the drive and tenacity to manage their own stable business would be best suited for this business venture. As a caricature business owner, you must be both creative and business savvy, making critical financial and marketing decisions that will help your organization sustain long-term growth.

Artists with average speed and skill can bring in up to $600 per day. If you are able to work three events a week, at $600 per event, your business would generate a revenue of over $93,000. Subtract ongoing expenses from this figure and you have a significant profit, particularly for only working three days a week.

Learn how to start a caricature business.

8. Cartoon Service

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First and foremost, potential entrepreneurs in this field must have a talent for cartooning. For many kinds of assignments, the ability to write—especially in a humorous vein—is also necessary. Beyond that, your marketing skills and self-promotional instincts will help you commercialize your talent in a number of ways.

There are seemingly endless directions you can take your cartoon business. There are a handful of famous cartoonists who generate annual revenue well into the millions, but average print cartoonists make about $30,000 to $60,000 a year. Don't forget that cartooning can also include storyboarding and illustrating, so consider stepping into new territory to boost your profits.

Learn how to start a cartoon service.

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9. Illustration Business

Illustration Business Image

Potential illustrators must have artistic talents and an entrepreneurial drive. This means that your skillset must encompass both the ability to continually find work, to complete it to your clients’ satisfaction, and to continually find new clients. You’ll charge a fee for your business that’s often based on your estimation of hours to complete the job.

The average yearly wage for illustrators averages just below $60,000. Of course, your earnings will only be limited by the reputation you attain, the clients you attract and the work you put out. To maximize profits, consider delving into unique fields such as illustration for video games or commercials.

Learn how to start an illustration business.

10. Mural Painting Business

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Muralists should be talented artists who can (usually, but not always) work in oversized imagery. You should also be able to sell yourself on the basis of your talent and portfolio. Mural artists generally charge in one of two ways for their work: by an hourly rate or by the square foot of painted space.

A tentative median pay rate for mural painters is $50,000, but this comes from a broader category including crafts and fine arts. Your earnings will be set by your reputation, the rates of competitors, your marketing zeal and ingenuity, and even such factors as your region’s climate if you primarily work outdoors.

Learn how to start a mural painting business.

11. Pottery Business

Pottery Business Image

The final item on our list of business ideas for artists is a pottery business. Hands-on artists might find themselves well-equipped for pottery. However, being able to craft a quality clay piece is only half the challenge. You must also possess the creativity and drive to continuously seek out new avenues for displaying and selling your work. An artist who has a knack for self-promotion and networking amongst other artists and clients is an ideal match.

Novice potters report annual earnings of just under $20,000, while master potters make an average of $47,500 annually. Most of these art businesses take anywhere from 2-5 years to really get going. To boost profits, you might teach pottery classes or collaborate with other artists in your community.

Learn how to start a pottery business.

12. Jingle Company

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This business is ideal for musically creative people who enjoy using their talents to promote business ventures. Depending on the terms of the contract, jingle company owners can make money by earning royalties on original music that is used on television shows or other theatrical performances. The amount of royalties depends on factors such as the length of the piece and how it is used.

Musical composers make an average of $44,000 per year, while writers make an average of $60,000. Jingle writers usually combine both talents and work closely with advertising agencies. Digital advertising for smartphones has become a lucrative new market - in 2011, one digital advertising company sold for $62.5 million.

Learn how to start a jingle company.

13. Karaoke Bar

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Above all, this is a business for those who love both music and people. You must be a good “people person” who can make assorted individuals feel comfortable performing, and you must be someone with a thorough knowledge and appreciation of music. Prior experience working in bars that do karaoke is also very helpful.

The exact profit of your business can depend on various factors, but the average bar is able to make between $25,000 to $30,000 a month; assuming the previous $20,000 a month operating expenses, then you can generate $5,000 to $10,000 in profit a month, meaning that as an investment, a karaoke bar can pay for itself in a relatively short time.

Learn how to start a karaoke bar.

Learn more about starting a business by visting the U.S. Small Business Administration.

14. Live Band

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Ownership of a live band usually includes the actual musicians. Owners generally have a passion and instinct for music, a great deal of energy and motivation, and a talent for crafting a sound that appeals to audiences. In addition to their performance skills, live band owners must be able to sell their services to booking managers and to the audiences who watch them perform.

Your talent, time, energy and visibility are your only limitations. The top bands in the world can launch tours that make hundreds of millions of dollars. For others, the band business can be a lucrative side job on nights and weekends. If your band records and sells music, you can generate additional income.

Learn how to start a live band.

15. Mobile DJ Business

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If you love bringing people together through music, being around crowds, and are ready to be your own boss, owning your own mobile DJ business could be a rewarding career choice. Your business will generate revenue through each event played. The number and types of gigs you’re booked for depends largely upon your music collection and “party personality.”

If you participate in three events a week and charge $2,000 per event, your company will earn approximately $288,000 annually before expenses. Hiring additional DJs will not only assist in covering overhead costs, but it can also more than double your business’ profit, depending upon the pay scale you and the employee agree upon.

Learn how to start a mobile DJ business.

16. Music Lessons Business

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People who are passionate about music and can play at least one instrument well may be interested in starting a music lessons business. Music teachers in schools and band members are especially qualified, as they both have credentials and connections to people who love music. People don’t have to be a music teacher or in a band to start a music lessons business, though.

Even a part-time music lessons business can generate significant revenue. An instructor who offers private lessons for 20 hours a week could earn between $600 and $1200 each week if they charged $30 to $60 per hour. Because the ongoing expenses are low, the vast majority of this is profit.

Learn how to start a music lessons business.

17. Musical Instrument Repair Business

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Anyone who enjoys music and is mechanically inclined might like running a musical instrument repair business. Business owners regularly interact with people who are passionate about music, and fixing instruments is a hands-on, mechanical process.

A musical instrument repair business can bring in a nice annual revenue for a small business. Some business models show an annual revenue of $88,160. Because ongoing expenses are low, most revenue is profit. A musical instrument repair business may increase revenue by selling new and/or used instruments. Some of these music businesses also rent instruments to students.

Learn how to start a musical instrument repair business.

18. Record Label

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The ideal record label owner must love and recognize their definition of good music. Your communications skills are equally important since you’ll need to get unsigned bands to share your enthusiasm and be able to sell your music to listeners and possibly distributors, entertainment venues and other players in the field.

Almost 40% of music today is produced by indie labels. That’s because much of it can be streamed or downloaded, which greatly reduces physical material costs. Distribution is also easier online - at least theoretically. The downside of all of that potential is that competition is steep. Many indie labels only sell a few hundred units, and much of the business is conducted on a part-time basis.

Learn how to start a record label.

19. Musical Instrument Store

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Business owners with a love of music in all its styles will excel at this business. It is important to be able to work well with all types of customers, no matter what level of musical expertise they have, including those just starting to learn as well as top professionals.

Some music instrument stores are family-owned businesses that operate from the same location for decades. Smaller communities can typically only support the operation of one of these stores, so they gain the benefit of having a local monopoly. That being said, it’s important to separate yourself from bigger chains. One way to do this would be to offer vintage instruments or rare items.

Learn how to start a musical instrument store.

20. Piano Tuning Business

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If you are an individual with a great appreciation for the function, construction, and general maintenance of fine instruments, as well as a basic understanding of music, this business may be a good fit for you. Generally, piano tuning businesses are one-man operations, so you must enjoy working alone and you must be self-motivated.

The average income for a piano tuner is around $35,000 a year. The most successful piano tuner will garner contracts from performing arts centers and music schools that require regular tuning and repairs for their instruments. Repeat business builds your reputation which allows you to charge higher rates.

Learn how to start a piano tuning business.

21. Record Store

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People attracted to this business love listening to music. They enjoy understanding the detailed history of music (“musicology”). They know how the creation of a music style happened, who performed it, and how popular a style became. They enjoy serving as an authority/guide for others as a curator for specific styles.

There may be low sales during any particular week. Then, a regular collector may come in and buy a significant amount of items. Independent record stores are not particularly lucrative and are best suited for music lovers, who are content with marginal profits. 

Learn how to start a record store.

22. Recording Studio

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Lastly on our list of business ideas for musicians is a recording studio. People who love music and like to be around music typically gravitate to this business. It helps to have computer skills and to enjoy working with music recording software and electronic equipment. Clients pay standard rates for studio use, charged by the hour and sometimes for the equipment used during each recording session.

Successful studios operate at 50% or greater booking of paid studio time. This means at least 12 hours each day and 94 hours per week, with the average “all-in” studio revenues of $37 per hour. This generates $13,505 in gross revenues each month or $162,060 per year.

Learn how to start a recording studio.

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