How to Manage Money

Chris Jarvis, ICMP's Masters in Popular Music Performance alumnus, tells us more about life after studying and how he's built a career... 


ICMP's What's Next? Podcast, hosted by Jordan Olukanmi, Graduate Outcomes Assistant and Masters in Songwriting alumnus, explores the student journeys of our alumni once they have completed their studies.

In the first episode, Masters in Songwriting alumnus Thiago Jorge discussed his industry moves while Caroline Ramos, a Masters in Performance alumna, talked about the best ways to stay creative.

More recently, ICMP's BA Creative Music Production alumnus Peter Abdallah revealed more about his industry experiences as a producer.

In our latest instalment, alumnus Chris Jarvis talks about his life as a session musician alongside his top advice for managing money.  

Here are some essential insights taken from and inspired by the conversation. You can also find out more about career opportunities facilitated by ICMP's Careers and Industry Hub

Regardless of how much they're paying you, you sometimes have to make a judgement whether you can physically or mentally be prepared for it."

When you consider what it must be like to make a living as an artist, your mind might be filled with thoughts of boundless creativity, experimenting with instruments and progression in the studio, or playing live gigs in front of thousands of people. Perhaps, what you are not imagining is financial planning. 

Many musicians make mistakes when it comes to money in their careers.

How you manage your money can make or break your success as an independent musician. At the end of the day, no matter how much you make, impulsive buys, improper budgeting, and simply not knowing how to save your money could leave your pockets empty. 

Independence is becoming more prominent for musicians because record labels are starting to be understood as 'the controlling parents' of the industry that give artists an allowance. As an independent artist, you are already a business owner. To be an effective entrepreneur you should view your art as a business. 

Managing finances can feel like a tricky song to learn. But, just like mastering a complex chord progression or nailing a high note, understanding how to manage finances as a musician can be learned too. It all starts with a good rhythm, or in this case, a good budget. 

Here are some different methods to help with managing money:


It is safe to say that you will not be making millions of pounds in the very first months or years of your music career.

In these initial stages, when most of your time is spent on perfecting your sound, finding collaborations and gig opportunities, and learning the ins and outs of the industry, you will not have a huge budget to work with. And we all know that being a musician is not cheap. You need money to invest in equipment, instruments, software, marketing, ad campaigns, and much more.

Being financially savvy will help you budget your expenses effectively, making sure that you do not overspend and end up with nothing in your bank account at the end of the month."  

Sell merchandise

Selling merchandise might be the last thing on your priority list in the early days of your career.

But it is a fantastic way to keep funds coming in while also building exposure and growing your fanbase. Fans love good, creative, original merchandise, from T-shirts, hats, mugs, to signed posters and other memorabilia, so selling merchandise can end up being a very lucrative income stream. 


Copyrighting your music is a critical step on the journey to becoming a successful artist.

By copyrighting your creations, you ensure that you get credit whenever someone else wants to sample your work, perform it live, or use it in any form. Copyrighting your music ensures you get a steady, passive income stream, and gives you the right to utilise your own work as you see fit, without giving up control. 


Teaming up with other musicians and using crowdfunding can be effective tools to relieve some of the financial stress and even finance your music career. An effective way of sharing costs and resources is to collaborate with other musicians.

It is important to be transparent about the financial arrangements and, if the collaboration involves earnings, to define clearly how these will be shared between you." 


Negotiating fees and expenses is a key business skill for musicians. Whether you are a long-standing artist or a newcomer to the sector, it is perfectly reasonable to ask for fair compensation.

Negotiation is all about excellent communication and being clear about your expectations while listening to those of the other person. The aim is to work together to find a win-win agreement.

To make your expectations clear, you need to know what the typical performance fees are for your genre and location. Travel costs, accommodation, experience, and reputation are important things to consider too... 

If you have any other advice on budgeting, then please share...

Take the first steps in your music career with ICMP

We've been developing and delivering contemporary music education for over 30 years – longer than any other music school in the UK. With a proven track-record, countless music industry connections and unrivalled access to facilities, it's easy to see why hundreds of students choose ICMP each year. 

To completely immerse yourself in your music career, chat with our friendly Admissions Team via email or give them a call on 020 7328 0222.

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by ICMP staff writer
March 20, 2024
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