This post was actually inspired by our good friend Matt Whitlock (@mattwhitlockPM). The other day he sent out some really amazing tweets about ways to get paid as an indie artist, so we decided to expand on those tweets in more detail.
As you all have figured out by now, having a career in music is very expensive. You will need to invest lots of time and money in order to succeed at a certain level, BUT there’s no reason why you shouldn’t be seeing some sort of return of investment along the way. One of the biggest mistakes artists make in this situation is that they want to get paid, yet they don’t give anyone a way to pay them. What I mean by this is that although you have DREAMS of one day getting paid a ton of money for your music and by just being you, are you actually SETTING YOURSELF UP to get paid right now? Do you have a store on your website? Do you sell merch at shows? Or are you out here giving away free music and expecting to just magically start getting paid once you get a record deal? Let me just say this, there is money out there for you RIGHT NOW. So are you getting it? Or, are you waiting for it to fall on your lap?
What a lot of indie artists fail to realize is that there are many other ways to make money with your art ASIDE from selling your music. As a matter of fact, with all the streaming sites out there now, music sales definitely shouldn’t be what you count on to fund your music career. You have to make money in other ways. Now we know that there are actually many articles that discuss the different ways that artists can get paid, but most of those articles talk about ways to get paid once you already have a big fan base built and already have songs on the radio. Our focus, right now, is to show the newer indie artists how to make money to invest back into their career.
In order to help you, we’ve created a list of ways that you can make money right now to help fund your music career:
1. Sell MERCH at your shows. This has got to be the number one way for artists (even those just starting out) to get paid. Everyone loves a cool t-shirt, hat, or hoodie. Most people will buy it if it looks cool, regardless of who’s t-shirt it is. Our suggestion to you is to get some merch designed and set up a merch table at EVERY show. (Make sure that you have a friend to run the table while you’re performing.) You can start with the basics like shirts and hoodies, and then get creative with it and design things that are really tailored to your brand. For example, Wiz Khalifa sells lighters and marijuana paraphernalia. If you are looking for someone to design your merch, feel free to check out some of our designs and contact us. You can also use Denial Printing to get everything printed. (From shirts, to hats, to everything in between, they do it all and they have great quality and prices.)
2. Set up an online store where you can sell all of your merch items. You can even offer discounts (using discount codes) to people that subscribe to your mailing list AND you can bundle your music and merch in a package. The easiest way to do this is to use bigcartel.com to create your store and then link it to your website. (Then, when people go on your website and click STORE, it’ll take them directly to your bigcartel.com page).
3. Throw your own shows and make money off of ticket sales. Aside from getting booked to perform at other people’s events, you can actually contact the venue of your choice, work out a deal with them, and throw your own show. (Maybe add a few other indie artists from your area to the bill so that you’ll be sure to pack the venue.) Since it’s your show, you’ll make the door money. Depending on the size of the venue, you can come out with a few hundred to a few thousand dollars. It’s hard work, but who said this would be easy? If you’re interested, we can help you curate your own show, so feel free to contact us for help!
4. Monetize your YouTube channel. Regardless if you are getting a ton of views on your videos, you should still make sure that your YouTube channel is set up to bring in revenue. Collecting small amounts of money is better than no money at all, which leads us to our next point…
5. Get your music on streaming websites like Pandora, Spotify, and Tidal. We know that streaming doesn’t pay artists what they deserve to be paid, HOWEVER music streaming is now a really big way that people listen to music. So if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em! You can get your music on Pandora by following these steps. You can get your music on Tidal directly through their discovery platform, or by using a digital distribution service like TuneCore or CDBaby. You can also use either one of those to get your music on Spotify.
These are only five of the easiest ways to get paid right now. There are many other ways that we will discuss in future articles. One of the most important things to remember is that in order to get paid, you have to make it easy for people to pay you. You have to offer a product. You have to remind everyone that you have products that are available. And, you have to make sure to get your music on platforms that have a large amount of listeners.
If you need any help with this, don’t hesitate to contact us.