A few reasons you may be reading this article about making money with your music are you want to be one of the lucky ones who live a fully creative life using your artistic gifts on your own terms, or you want the income from your music to invest in reaching specific goals. Maybe you want to build your own studio or travel or study abroad. You may think making money from your music will be difficult or that it will take years. But getting started on the path to music monetization is more than manageable. Get started today.
Location, Location, Location
Forget the notion that you must live in either New York, Los Angeles or Nashville to be a professional musician. Cities all throughout North America have vibrant music scenes. Toronto, Austin and Atlanta are just a few of the examples of places that stake a serious claim in the music industry. Some cities are known for certain genres of music and have active performance districts. Others are more industry oriented and draw songwriters and composers interested in getting work for commercials or television and film. The internet shrinks the music world even more. A little research will reveal the many commutable locations with costs of living favorable for an up and coming artist making their earning through a full time job and music monetization. You probably live close to a music center already.
Music monetization starts with having a product. That product is you and your music. Make sure it’s the best you can offer. Assess the skills and talent you bring to the market. Know your value. Monetization relies heavily on your own ability to hustle. You will need examples of your work to hand over to club owners and local agents. Prepare a promo kit of recordings, photographs, a bio, reviews, list of past significant performances, set-lists, business cards and anything else that shows who you are and why people will want to spend money to hear you. This is where all the hard work you put into branding comes together.
Know what type of work you want. Dream of performing on a stage for thousands of fans? Rather work in publishing and write for lucrative commercial deals? You will need to understand the types of industry insiders to find, and network with, that make sense for whatever path to music monetization works for your goals.
Network with other musicians too. Support other artists by attending their shows and buying their music. Talk to them about cross promotion. Build each other’s audiences. Always show your gratitude when someone else supports you. Maybe you can even offer to do some paid administrative work for a band already sitting where you aspire to be someday.
Let Your Music Talk
The fastest way to music monetization is to perform it. Sell your music directly from the stage. Connect with your audience through your authentic brand. Make them want to hear you over and over again.
An often overlooked method of music monetization is through house concerts, where a fan (could even be a relative or someone else with a keen interest in your success) opens their home for you to put on a performance. Usually, the host will have a list of people they invite who pay a small cover charge. The audience is smaller than at a club, but is more attentive and likely to buy CDs and other merchandise. This is a great way to build a rabid fan base because of the natural intimacy and it works for all genres of music. Fully exploit the opportunity by asking for email addresses, reviews, and referrals.
Build an additional income stream by selling shirts, stickers, and other merchandise alongside your CDs on your website and in music stores. Most brick and mortar stores are friendly to musicians and have shelf space dedicated to the local scene. Just ask.
If you are currently writing and performing, register with ASCAP, BMI or another Performing Rights Organization. These organizations exist to ensure that musicians are paid for their creative endeavors with royalties. Research to understand how publishing your music works for your financial bottom line.
Notice how we haven’t talked radio? So much about radio play is out of a musician’s control. It’s almost not worth spending much time and energy there. Platforms, however, should demand your attention. The most exciting thing about digital platforms like–Spotify, iTunes and Pandora–is their portability. Fans can listen to your music anywhere. Digital platforms also pay royalties. Many touring bands have even developed their own platforms in the form of apps so fans are constantly connected.
You are a talented and gifted artist. Show others how they can develop skills of their own by teaching. Even a part-time gig can provide a steady stream of income. Explore opportunities at private schools of music, community colleges, musical instrument retailers, studios and even in your own home.
Sponsorships and Branding Deals
If you’re planning a tour, many companies are willing to discuss sponsorship and branding deals as a partnership. A deal like this can offset the costs of your tour and provide a healthy stream of income for as long as the partnership lasts. Brand partnerships work nicely when it’s mutually beneficial and an organic fit for both the brand and the artist.
The key to music monetization is to let go of the starving artist mentality. Music is a business and a creative field. Take some time to define what success looks like to you and then brainstorm ways that you can make money off what you do best. Earn money from your passion and live the life you create.