Chance, the rapper from Chicago won 3 awards at the 59th Grammy awards, Music’s most coveted recognition, as an independent artist with his album streaming only in Apple Music. The music industry once dominated by cassettes, CDs, Vinyls now share a huge proportion of it with the internet and its services. With music, formats in which they are now distributed and listened have also gone drastic change. Online radios, music streaming services, YouTube have changed the landscape of music industry.
In addition to that, when you are starting out dealing with record companies can be difficult to negotiate with. The risk they take by signing new artists are only justified when the artist becomes successful. So, to be able to absorb the risk properly and generate profit out of someone’s work the record label comes out in a way that is somewhat difficult to deal with. There have been some battles between record labels and artists as a result of this.
Enough of this!
Well, if you can create good music, (we certainly can’t help you with that) there are ways to get the digital platforms to work in your favor so you can afford a jam for your bread and certainly more.
How to earn money as a musician
1. Collaborate with other musicians locally/ globally
Connecting with like-minded musicians or a new idea is an essential step for a creative process. Online platforms such as Soundcloud, Kompoz, Procollabz, Patreon enable one to be a part of community and work on projects like never before. Connect, collaborate or hire other musicians from those platforms.
2. Create and distribute content online
Record at your home studio, and share it to the world. This reciprocates the idea of mix tapes without any physical tapes and it can reach the corners of the world. Sites like Soundcloud, Bandcamp, Spotify, Youtube, etc help you distribute your content among their large audience. At the same time you should choose the one which is better for your position. Like, Spotify takes music mainly through record label (bummer!) but pays you for music streamed, Bandcamp lets anyone sell albums and merchandises, and pays good portion of the sales to the artist but streams music for free. Soundcloud on the other hand is initially free but limited to 2 hrs of upload time and pay $$ for pro and unlimited accounts which is more on the creating and distribution side than earning.
3. Create a following
If some people like your music, be loyal to them. Keep them updated about your projects, ideas, and share your experiences so that they feel connected to you. Be active on social media, notify them about as soon as your content is released. Get people to subscribe to your YouTube channel, Facebook, website, profiles(Soundcloud, Bandcamp, etc). These are the people who will put a good word and good ear for you when you start small, so dedicate yourself for this task as well.
Once you release your music or album. Those online platforms used to promote your music will pay you some portion for no of times your music is streamed, downloaded and merchandises sold. Soundcloud’s Soundcloud Go, Bandcamp, Pandora, Spotify, and many more provide such services. YouTube a video platform pays you after you amass high no of views or by partnering with them and putting ads on your content. Vimeo, on the other hand does not pay you for the views except for its service Vimeo on demand. License your music. Allowing radios, commercial ads, and any other entity to use your music will result in them paying you.
5. Take the big leap
Like most businesses, you will have to scale up to reach the larger audience, play at the big arenas. You may want to sell cds, vinyls, merchandises to masses worldwide which requires a network. Take the leap to get associated with a record label or distributor to do it all. If you don’t like that route take the leap to do it all by yourself or least hire a manager like Macklemore and Ryan Lewis. Utilize resources to push your music to mass not only through online but also through terrestrial (conventional) radio, TV shows, and live shows.
Promote your music at any chance you get. Play small to large gigs. Play at bars in front of few people then go to thousands of people at Rock am Ring or OZZ Fest.
There are strategies to marketing the music and the artist as well. People like Katy Perry, Jay Z , have become a brand rather than just another artist. Build a brand and continue.