Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in music but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Nico Padden, Singer-songwriter and Professional Musician, based in Valley Stream, NY, USA.

What's your business, and who are your customers?

Private lessons in voice, piano, guitar, ukulele, and clarinet. My students are mostly kids aged K-12 and a few adults.

Live entertainment for private parties, weddings, bars, restaurants, wineries, breweries, and distilleries. I play guitar and sing popular well-known songs.

Original music. I'm a singer-songwriter. I write, record, distribute, and sell original music. I give concerts occasionally of my original music.

Tell us about yourself

I started piano lessons when I was four (my mother is also a piano teacher), and I've never looked back from then in terms of being a musician. I became self-employed as a musician and private teacher pretty much right when I graduated college and kept building from there. What motivates me is a straight-up passion for music. I'm musically omnivorous, and I want to devour it all. I eat, sleep, and breathe music.

What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?

  • Ben Folds (yes, THAT Ben Folds) called my song "Pirate Queen," "original and classic at the same time."
  • My students have all grown in confidence as musicians and people.
  • Thousands of happy customers at my gigs listening to me sing.
  • I crowdfunded $5,000 from my fans in order to create my second album of original music.

What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?

Managing my time. I have to do it because no one is going to do it for me. I have to be a lot more regimented than most people think a musician would be.

What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?

  1. Speak with a CPA and get clear about whether you should be a DBA, LLC, or S-Corp.
  2. Network with people who are self-employed in the way you want to be. Become friends with them, help them out, and get a beer with them. Ask them questions but also just be a good human and a good friend. My best career growths have come from my sincere friendships with my fellow musicians.
  3. Learn to be assertive, set boundaries, and stick up for yourself, especially if you're a woman.

Is there anything else you'd like to share?

Rock on!

Where can people find you and your business?


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