“10 ways musicians make money without sacrificing creative freedom”
Posted by Mariana on September 19, 2012
This guest post is written by Jo-Ná A. Williams, Esq., a former vocalist
and songwriter and a solo practitioner with her own firm in New York,
J.A. Williams Law – The Artist Empowerment Firm.
Due to collapsing album sales, piracy, and less money generated from digital downloads,
artists are now faced with the question, “How do I make money with
my music?” Well, if the sales aren’t cutting it and the only people at your
shows are your family and a few high-school classmates, how will you really
make a living with your art?
Show me the money!! How can musicians make money nowadays?
I’m sure you know licensing and live shows are great money generators for
musicians, but what are some less common ways that artists are making money
in the music industry today? I’ve spoken to musicians on this topic recently
and here are 10 ways that artists are making good money, maintaining their
creative freedom all while paying the rent:
1 - Hold live online shows
Create an online streaming concert and charge your fans and followers to watch your live
performance from the comfort of their home. Great way to increase your fan base and take
full advantage of technology. Try the site Stageit.com. They allow you to perform a live
streaming concert for a portion of your ticket sales and they even allow fans to tip you while
2 - Become a partner with YouTube
Partnering with YouTube on your channel is a great way to generate revenue by allowing ads
3 - Music for web-shows
The web-show movement is booming and many shows need songs for their introductions
or throughout their episodes and they can’t pay the hefty licensing fees for mainstream music.
This is also a way to expose your music to larger audience.
Start by contacting some of your favorite web-shows via sites like YouTube and Vimeo.
Ask them if they are looking for original music to add to upcoming episodes.
Be sure to include web-links in your correspondence so they can easily access
samples of your music.
4 - Compose for Off-Broadway shows
Theatre productions need great composers for their music. This is an awesome
revenue stream if you can snag a position on a new play — it’s less common but lucrative way
to make money. These gigs are generally through the web of networking.
I never recommend agents because they tend to only work with people that have BUZZ or through
their own networks. But If you can connect with OTHER artists via networking…
you’d be surprised how you can get a great gig. I know some musicians that have
contacted theatre companies in their area to see what new projects they are developing and
snagged jobs this way. If you don’t have a theatre in your area, tap into your web of artists.
Sometimes musicians know other performing artists that need help with their plays and productions.
5 - Become an affiliate
Many companies that you love have affiliate programs. If you promote their products or services to your email lists and people purchase as a result, these companies will give a percentage of the proceeds to you. Don’t you love getting unexpected checks in the mail? An example of a great company with affiliate programs is Ariel Publicity. Visit the site for details on how to become an affiliate.
Ariel Publicity : http://arielpublicity.com/affiliates/
6 - Start your own publishing company
Publishing your own music is great because if you enter into co-publishing agreements with larger
companies not only will you get your writer’s share of royalties, you’ll also get ½ of publishing royalties.
First step to starting your own company is to register the proper business entity within your state.
For example, a Limited Liability Company or Corporation. Next, register your songs as a publisher
with a performing rights society such as ASCAP, BMI, or SESAC.
These steps will put you in the driver’s seat as your own publisher. Get those royalties!
7 - Be a freelance sound engineer
As a musician you have a great ear for sound so put it to good use. Companies, events, and less-experienced performers need someone to oversee the sound in their productions.
8 - Pre-sell your upcoming album
Pre-selling your album gives you the money to produce a higher-quality product.
Not only is this a great way to get cash flowing to your new project, this is also a way to generate
excitement for your upcoming album with your fans!
Free marketing AND money, where do I sign up?
9 - Rent your studio
If you have home studio where you’re producing your own music, share the wealth! Some artists need quality production of their music and they can’t afford the larger studios. This is a great way to help your fellow musicians and make money at the
10 - Build your email list
This is an age-old marketing tactic that you definitely want to incorporate into your life as an artist.
You don’t want to have your fan base only connected to your social media.
What if that method goes away? You’ve lost them and you have to start all over.
Always have someone to market your next product or concert to by building your list.
Add links to your music on iTunes or your new merch. Use ReverbNation’s mailing newsletters
option to give you a professional and fun way to connect with your fans.
As an independent artist, I know that you would prefer to have all your money come from the screaming
fans at your concerts or people clamoring to get your CD, but the reality is, you have to make ends meet until you finally reach your stride in your career. Take at least one of these ideas, apply it and then take
that revenue and re-invest it into your career. Careful planning and monetizing every aspect of your art is
the key to success in this industry. It’s time. Let’s do this!
Jo-Ná A. Williams, Esq. can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter:
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