So You Want To Be An Artist, Huh? Here are 7 Ways To Profit Off Of Your Music
It’s coming to the end of the first quarter of 2019. You’ve been spending the past few weeks, months, and years planning, plotting, scheming, and dreaming about getting your music out into the world. Last year was supposed to be your breakout year as you spent countless hours writing new material and endless nights in the booth. You changed your image, rebooted your sound, and rebranded yourself bigger and brighter than ever before. You’ve got the zeal and the drive to start flying, and are finally ready to move.
The only problem is, you have no idea which direction to move in. You’ve got your creative vision on lock, but aren’t sure how to get en route to quitting your day job. Lucky for you, you’re in the height of the digital era where multiple streams of income are not only an option but also a necessity. We’ve moved past depending on just on streams, local gigs, and even touring, and have found more ways to bring home cash.
Here are 7 surefire ways to get literal dollars into your bank account:
1.Digital Streaming Revenue
One of the biggest, most powerful streaming services right now is Spotify. With an average of nearly 100 million subscribers, the streaming platform has listeners from virtually every single corner of the globe. With that being said, it’s imperative that music artists upload and claim their spot on this music juggernaut. Though Spotify only pays an average of $0.00437 per stream (second to Pandora with a lead of $0.01682 per play), with an average of $4,000 per 1 million streams, it makes up for it with popularity. It’s a huge outlet for exposure via curated playlists, updating users on live events nearest to them, and has an unmatchable algorithm.
Artists can easily upload their music for free onto the streaming service, or be added to a major playlist circulated throughout the app. Free upload, free publicity, and free money. You can’t go wrong.
2. Live Performances
Never underestimate the power of live performances. Despite our social media era, fans still flock to music festivals, concerts, and live performances at venues of all sizes. Nothing beats a good live performance for both fans and artists alike, and performing live gigs can be a very profitable way to live.
Most artists are able to make money off of sales/pre-sales, tickets bought at the door, or an agreed percentage of sales from your promotor/venue owner. And within the world of live performances, there are two specific ways artists can make bank:
Music fests are a chance to bring more artists: from big names to local openers. They’re also a chance for creative stage set designers, music promoters, and music journalists to get involved. It also means reaching a potential audience that might not have otherwise been exposed to your music.
You can collect copyright royalties for your performances. If you’re with the PRS (Performing Right Society) and perform a song that is registered under PRS, you will receive royalties. Also, every venue you perform at should have a PRS license, ultimately bringing in more revenue. Every dollar counts.
So you’ve locked down the streaming thing and are booking gigs like crazy. What’s next? You guessed it: merch! Chances are if fans love you enough to stream you endlessly and attend your shows, they’re probably going to want something to show for it. From t-shirts to sweaters to hats, merch is a great (and relatively cheap) way to make some money while getting your name out there. By having a recognizable graphic logo/design, your fans are doing the marketing for you.
4. YouTube Revenue
Back in the day, artists would blindly send their demo tapes to music execs/labels in hopes of getting signed. Today, there are easier ways to get your music to the masses while building a loyal fanbase. YouTube works with artists across the world to generate revenue and help the musician earn more. Artists that put their music through third-party distributors who can submit your music to YouTube and can collect money from ads and YouTube premium. Additionally, distributors who use YouTube’s Content ID system can collect revenue from other YouTube videos such as vloggers who may use your music.
Another way to make YouTube money is to generate content yourself. You may not make much based on the number of views on your videos, but you can make money off of people’s engagement with the ads that play prior to or during your video. For artists unsure of how to get started (or worried about not having enough content to put out), some beginner ideas can be vlogging your everyday life, creating tour diaries, showing backstage/behind-the-scenes footage, or doing Q&As from fans on other social media platforms.
At its core, crowdfunding is raising a small amount of funds online from a large group of people. For artists, this means fans donating small amounts of money to your online campaign. Crowdfunding sites like Kickstarter, Patreon, and Indiegogo are some of the more popular choices. They give you the opportunity to set a monetary goal and a timeline of when to achieve it. It’s your job to make your campaign as compelling as possible by promoting it and even creating cool visuals for it (most crowdfunding campaigns have a “pitch” video). If you meet your goal in time, you’ll receive all the money you managed to collect (Kickstarter and Patreon take 5%). However, if you don’t meet your goal in time, every donation made by your fanbase is completely refunded.
The best campaigns have cool incentives for fans who give them money. It’s ideal for campaigners to have a cheap “reward” or “perk” for their fans, depending on the amount donated (e.g. sending your fans a personally recorded version of a song for a $50 donation).
6. Sponsorship/Brand Collaborations
After you’ve established yourself with a large following, consistent live performances, and collecting a substantial amount of money from streams, it’s time to start thinking even bigger. Like sports athletes, musicians have the opportunity to receive sponsorship and collaborate with brands/companies.
Your first job is to find a company whose brand aligns with yours. They can be local, national, or international. Contact reps through email, social media (especially Instagram), or cold calling to gauge interest. Pitches to online influencers, popular blogs, and radio stations can go a long way, and with the right bio, press release, social media following and EPK, you might be able to persuade a potential investor or sponsor. It could be as simple as getting paid to wear their logo on a t-shirt for an Instagram post.
Research which brands are best for you by who they’ve worked with in the past, and be realistic about what your brand, social media presence, or overall influence.
7. Be Valuable
Last but not least, don’t sell yourself short. Many artists overlook the value of their music, or worse – place the value on their monetary income. See yourself and your music as a marketing tool. Make your music as available as possible in order to build a fanbase and become a household name. Think about the long term: creating music that people can actually access is more important than trying to charge people for music they haven’t heard yet. If you make music that people like, they will invest in you in the long run, which is far more valuable than immediate financial gain.
In essence, it takes time to build momentum behind the music, but in a digital age with access to free platforms, it’s easier than ever. Be sure to take advantage of these 7 steps and you will start to see a major difference!