Product-Market Fit for Composers

Composers might not think of themselves as entrepreneurs, but they should, if they want opportunities to come their way.

In this post, I want to apply a concept from entrepreneur-land into music composition. The concept is “Product-Market Fit.” In commercial terms, Product-Market Fit means identifying a need in a market, and making a solution for that need.

How does this work for composers? If you want to be cynical, then sure, no one “needs” your music. But, many people enjoy playing and listening to music, and they want some familiarity and some variety. 

Your compositions can fill a “need” for a particular kind of piece in a particular context.

The market and the problem

What, or who, is your market? Audience members are not your real market. Your market is other musicians and artists – such as band directors, choir directors, chamber music performers, filmmakers.

What “problem” are you solving? Below are a few possible examples: 

  • Band directors – need good pieces at lower (easier) grade levels; need pieces with flexible instrumentation
  • Chamber performers – need pieces that fit the theme of their next concert/season
  • Filmmakers – need music in a particular genre; need a composer who is experienced, reliable, and a one-person shop

As you network and create opportunities, find out what people struggle with. I wrote a piece for early-high-school percussion septet because a friend said he had seven percussion students and just couldn’t find decent pieces for that number of players. 


What kind of genre or ensemble are you drawn to, as a composer? Did you grow up singing in choirs? Are you a big time gamer? You might focus your efforts first on the markets you really love. 

I would focus on two things: building a catalog (more than one piece) to show that you “do” that market, and building a network of potential customers/collaborators in that market. 

It is likely not worth your time to write ten Grade-1 band pieces because you might sell them. Be strategic about the opportunities you accept and how you prioritize them. If you’re getting good traction from your one Grade-1 piece, see if the directors who play it are interested in a second. You may want to write a string quartet next, but unless it has been commissioned with a premiere attached, you should prioritize that second band piece.

The market might determine your fit

While some composers are quite comfortable calling themselves, for example, a “choral composer,” I suspect many don’t want to be so pigeon-holed. Bad news–you probably will be, to an extent. If you’re lucky, some of your pieces will “take off” and people will commission you to write more pieces like them. You might suddenly be known as a great percussion composer, a great flute composer, etc. A question then might be: can I break into other markets, or should I double-down on this one I’m considered good at?


I want you to follow your muse as you write pieces. But I have seen many composers–perhaps unconsciously–follow these strategies. It’s a rare composer that does well in orchestra, band, choir, chamber music, opera, and film/game scoring. Becoming known as a great composer in any one of these areas is still a huge success.

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