New artists often struggle to survive in the music industry because they do not monetize their craft (which is understandable because it is a tricky process.) It used to be that you could sell a song on iTunes for 99 cents, and quickly that would add up to a lot of moolah. However, in today’s industry, streaming platforms like Spotify and Apple Music have completely destroyed what used to be a really lucrative method. These days in order to make 99 cents from a song, you must get anywhere between 32 to 776 streams (depending solely on the platform).
This article aims to help you leverage your music to add more money to your income (it cannot be your only source of income until it can pay enough to replace your other job). Below are tips and resources that you can use to build your wealth.
1. Copyright your Music
You cannot monetize your music unless you have copyrighted your music. I’ll say it again: you cannot monetize your music unless you have copyrighted it. A copyright protects your art from thieves and allows you to be paid for your work. You can copyright your music directly on the US Government’s website for no more than $40. (Yes, you can copyright multiple songs for just one $40 payment, and the process is fairly simple.) If you did not write the song, don’t worry, you aren’t hopeless. You can still copyright your version of singing the song—this is referred to as the master copyright.
2. Perform Live
You should start by joining a Performing Rights Society (BMI, ASCAP, SESAC) to collect your performing rights royalties. Live performances account for over half of revenue in the music industry. For most artists, touring is the only way to make money. With the sudden explosion of festivals, there are a ton of additional opportunities to add to your income. In touring, you can generate thousands and even millions of dollars from just one show. Although touring is risky—if you find a good tour manager or work hard you could become rich (but that might a little down the road if you are just getting started).
The best way to make money through live performances is by building a fan base. You must practice being a good performer, someone who is truly able to entertain an audience. Musicians often ask where to begin because it can be overwhelming. You should begin by building a brand/story in order to market yourself to your fans and to venues. (You also could always get hired for weddings and surprise birthday parties. Become known as “the gift” that makes the moment special. That would be a wonderful way to start building a fanbase.)
3. Sell Merchandise
Another way to make music in the music industry is through merchandise. Merchandise accounts for roughly 30% of your revenue in the music industry. Merchandise is selling shirts, hats, glasses, and any other item that reflects your brand. This is an extremely lucrative part of your business and can help extend your brand while bringing in huge amounts of cash. You can find a graphic designer on Fiverr to create your design and have CustomInk print your clothes for you.
You can sell merchandise at shows that you have, online and even in stores that support you as an artist. You can use your manager and Business Manager to help you negotiate deals on your behalf.
4. Television and Film
This is one of the most important revenue streams in our generation. Get your songs licensed in television shows, movies, video games, podcasts and more. Everyone needs music for their content and will gladly use your song if it fits their scene. All you have to do is register with a service such as Songtradr and they will share your music FOR FREE to people who need music content (I know it’s awesome). Also make friends with film students in college, video bloggers, and anyone who can help market your work.
If your song is in a viral video on YouTube and you own all the copyrights you can make millions of dollars from the views without a record label. Web shows are a great start because some shows get picked up by Netflix and major networks.
5. Directly Sell Your Music
Once again, it can take a lot of song streams to generate enough money to match just one iTunes 99 cent download. Selling music is no longer as profitable as it once was—however, if you have a dedicated fanbase (5,500 fans or more) you may be able to make a decent amount of money to add to the rest of your revenue streams. Selling music is also a source of passive income, which means you can make a ton of money doing absolutely nothing after it is created and distributed.
You can get your music on iTunes/Apple Music, Spotify, and Soundcloud very easily by registering with CDBaby. It will upload your music to all the websites mentioned above and collect the royalties for you while depositing them into your bank account.
Overall, there are several opportunities for you to support yourself financially while still staying true to your artistry. It simply takes the right mindset, dedication, and talent to reach your dreams!