Gone are the days of musicians making lots of money only to lose it all in a short period. Today, with knowledge and a passion for expansion beyond talent, there are ways in which musicians can sustain or revive a fading career 

Billionaires’ club 

Dr Dre is one of the interesting success stories of “beyond talent”. He is one of two billionaires in  the hip hop music industry. Dre hasn’t released an album in more than 10 years, and 10 years ago was nowhere on the list of top earners in music, until the launch of ‘Beats By Dre’ – a headphone company he co-founded, and which was subsequently bought by Apple for $3, 2 billion.  The headphones rode on the popularity of his street credibility as a rapper from the early 90s and reputation as a producer. 

“Any musician should know that talent is a gift that should be enhanced with skill and knowledge in order to make a success of it in the music business,” says Velile Sithole, managing director of Native Rhythms, a company that specialises in music production, event and artist management.

“While not all musicians are trained in the business of music, it is still important to acquire business knowledge to make it in this industry, not forgetting that the possibility of becoming a one-hit wonder and being forgotten is always there…”

For a successful career in music, Sithole advises that musicians get knowledge and develop business strategies to make sure that music translates into a successful business. 


In South Africa, Kabelo Mabalane, former member of Kwaito group TKZEE, has continued to stay relevant and make money from television shows despite having been away from the studio for some time. After Mabalane released his album Bouga Love (2004) he was signed on by Reebok becoming the first South African to have a shoe line named after him.

When DJ Sbu’s music was topping charts in 2010, Audi made him their brand ambassador, sponsoring him with the then top-of-the-range Audi TT roadster. The “off-the-music” trend has grown and today musicians easily make more money from endorsements than from album sales and live performances combined.

At just 20 years of age, Canadian pop superstar, Justin Bieber, entered the business world as a venture capitalist and technology investor. Bieber made his first start-up investment in 2009 putting millions of dollars in Stamped, Spotify, and game-for-good company SoJo Studios. 

Today he makes money from promoting products as simple as toothbrushes and luxury products such as perfume.


Sithole advises that from the onset musicians should think of themselves as potential brands if they are going to pursue a successful career in the entertainment business.

To get to play in the big league, musicians must explore ways in which they can make their talent profitable. South Africa has made great strides in music synchronising – where music is used in films, TV shows, games and or adverts. 

There are a number of companies that specialise in identifying music to use for films, TV shows, and games. Publishing companies also play a significant role in identifying synchronising opportunities.

Tips to help you go beyond talent: 

  1. Stay up-to-date with business trends and information. Knowledge will sustain your career. Know what’s going on in the world around you.
  2. Position yourself as a brand, identify you target market, and brand or rebrand to attract your target market.
  3. Identify ways in which your brand can expand into other areas of business. 
  4. Draw up a business strategy outlining how will reach your goals.
  5. You don’t have to be Dr Dre, but you can identify your unique offering and market it well.
  6. It’s what you can do beyond talent that will set you apart.
  7. Don’t be a one-hit wonder; expand, explore, make mistakes, get up and try all over again, and never give up!