A string quartet typically consists of two violins, a viola and a cello, though there are occasional variations. A quartet offers its musicians an opportunity for solo work interspersed with the synergy found in a musical ensemble. In addition to giving concerts, string quartets have become a common presence at wedding ceremonies and receptions, and also have enhanced other business and social events.
Choose the appropriate organizing entry for your string quartet business. Consider a sole proprietorship, limited liability company, S corporation or other business structure. Meet with a commercial insurance agent regarding professional and other liability insurance. Consult your city or county clerk’s office about a business license and specialty permits. Contact your state revenue department about a sales tax number for your service business.
Lease an office and practice space. Find a small business office with high-speed Internet service for efficient client communication. Look for an office park or other low-key location. Consider a practice space adjacent to your office, or a room in a quartet member’s home or business environment. Ask about renting an enclosed studio space in an artists’ co-op building. Obtain written zoning department approval, if necessary, before you sign a lease.
Research your regional competition. Obtain background information on existing string quartets in your area, as well as similar ensembles that travel to your city for performances. List any applicable affiliations with venues such as museums or banquet halls. Note each group’s repertoire and performance price range. Read customer reviews for feedback on the quality of your rivals' performances.
Recruit your string quartet members. Metropolitan symphony orchestras frequently include string section members who play private professional engagements along with symphony performances. Contact your city orchestra’s business office, and ask for permission to distribute a professionally prepared flier seeking freelance string quartet musicians. Browse a string musicians’ magazine spotlighting music schools and conservatories. Consider faculty members who desire offsite ensemble work, as well as talented new graduates seeking professional performance opportunities.
Prepare your repertoire. Include pieces appropriate for weddings, business events and social occasions. Consider different music genres, your musicians’ skill levels and arrangements that showcase each person’s capabilities. Practice each piece until you are satisfied the performance reflects your ensemble’s commitment to professionalism.
Reach out to the regional wedding market. Weddings and receptions present ideal venues for your string quartet business. Reach the bride and wedding planner market by showcasing your string quartet at local and regional bridal shows. Work with a graphic designer to prepare marketing materials such as group member profiles, repertoire and a sheet of logistical information. Recruit at least one group member to play a variety of string selections at your quartet’s booth.
Develop business and social performance opportunities. Conduct free performances at art gallery openings, museum events and special occasions at regional historic landmarks. Join your city’s Chamber of Commerce, and provide free music samplers for events attended by business owners and community leaders. Present personal proposals to event attendees. Target events such as employee recognition dinners, corporate meetings and conference banquets.
When organizing your string quartet business, consider consulting a certified public accountant who is familiar with music businesses.
Based in North Carolina, Felicia Greene has written professionally since 1986. Greene edited sailing-related newsletters and designed marketing programs for the New Bern, N.C. "Sun Journal" and New Bern Habitat ReStore. She earned a Bachelor of Science in business administration from the University of Baltimore.