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5 Ways to Make Money With Your Music Right Now

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.

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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.

What Fans Are Looking For Vs. What The Business Needs

As an artist, there are certain things that are expected of you – from both the creative end as well as the business end of music. Understanding the needs of both sides will allow you to make better decisions in your career. When you are able to see things from different perspectives, it helps you understand what your next move should be. In order to build a fan-base there are certain things that your fans will expect from you. In order to get label attention as well as the attention from venues and other opportunities, there are other things that are expected of you. In order to make the best out of your music career you must find balance. If you learn both ends of the spectrum you’ll be able to make better decisions, which in return will get you the outcome that you desire.

To make things clearer, I’ve broken things down into a few different lists that elaborate on what is expected of artists from the perspectives of a fan, a label/manager, and a venue:

What Fans Want

To Relate – fans want someone they can connect with, most of the time it’s through your lyrics but you can also relate through your image and even your lifestyle. In order to accomplish this, you must be sure to find your target market. Think about who will relate to your music and aim your marketing and promo at your target.

Originality – Sure there are many other artists out there that sound exactly alike, but do they have long lasting careers? You need to give your audience something to remember by being the real you that cannot be copied.

Authenticity – Basically if you talk about it in your music, BE ABOUT IT.  If you rap about the street life, they expect you to have some attributes of a street guy. You get my drift.

Quality – Fans want something that sounds like what’s already on the radio. Why? Because they are not in the music business, therefore they are only used to what they hear on the radio – so you have to give it to them. This doesn’t mean that you have to record in all of the most expensive studios to get the sound that you want, but you should definitely be getting your music mastered so that it’s already ready for the radio.

Access – Fans want to see you. They want to be able to look you up and find everything about you in a matter of a few clicks. If you really think about it, this means fans also want…

Consistency – People like to be entertained, and the more you can keep them entertained, the more they’ll keep coming back. You can do this by putting on great performance, releasing behind the scenes footage, having contests, send cool emails to your mailing list etc.

Labels and Managers Look For:

A Marketable Artist – From your name to your music to your look, you must be marketable. You have the qualities above and have used them to build your fan base. The days of an experienced manager (or anyone an artist would WANT to manage them) signing artists because they believe they can get to the next level, are over.  Managers want to see an artist who has a bit of a local buzz and then they step in and help the artist take it all the way.

A Polished Artist – The days are gone when labels had ‘artist development departments’ so now you have to make sure you’re polished and ready to go before a label will even consider you.

Someone Who Is Easy To Work With  – No one wants to work with someone who has a bad attitude or a crazy sense of entitlement. Labels look for artists who understand how the business works and who are open to different things.

Promoters/Venues  Look For:

An artist with a decent following – They want to be able to pack a venue, plain and simple.

Someone that can put on an amazing performance – it’s always best if you have your stage performance down to a science. The more you can captivate the audience, the more the venue will book you.

So as you can see, there is a lot that is expected of artists from all across the board. So now you have to figure out where your strengths and weaknesses are and fill in the gaps. The more well rounded you are the easier it will be to secure opportunities in your career. Your fans want that emotional connection where as the business end is mainly about money (which will come from building your fan-base). Of course, you cannot do this all on your own. You will definitely need a team behind you to make up for your weaknesses. If you don’t have a team yet no worries, you’re grind and consistency will attract people to your movement and from there you can see who will fit best.

If you are unsure where you are at in your career, need some guidance on what your next move should be, or have questions pertaining to the music business click here.