In order for you to be successful as an independent artist, not only do you have to create and release great music but you also have to operate as a business. One of the hardest business problems you have to solve as an independent artist is figuring out how to get paid.
If you are a starving artist waving your flag of independence and preaching about how artists that make money with their music have sold out – this article isn’t for you. If, however, you are a recording artist that makes amazing music and you are ready to start monetizing your music and make it into a full time career then read on.
Music has change over the years and in 2015 money made from digital streams surpassed physical sales. This has led to the current way of doing things. Which is simply to release your music on various streaming services and hope it blows up. However, this is no way to get paid. Hope does not pay the bills and honestly streaming doesn’t either.
On average Spotify pays $0.004 per stream. That means for every 10,000 streams you make $40. These streaming platforms are not designed to promote your music. They are designed to keep their listeners listening so they can either charge them money or serve them ads. They are not in the business of promoting your music, growing your brand or making you money.
As an independent artist the best promoter of your music will always be yourself. Your audience is eager to interact with you and you have to take your new music to them. In 2021, you cannot simply upload your music and forget about it.
So what are your options:
- You can do what every other hustler is trying to do – spam links. Just be the worst type of person and send your links to everyone anytime you have new songs or anything going on. Hit every blog, Facebook page, Instagram, YouTube & TikTok comment section. All you will really accomplish is annoy people and you will not be any closer to making any money.
- Fake your streams and hire a few bots. Get your streaming numbers up, get your social media numbers up and use those platforms to promote yourself. Unfortunately, all you are really doing is losing your credibility. How many Instagram pages have you seen with 100K followers but less than 20 likes on all of their posts? This hurts your reputation and your brand and makes fans and other brands not want to associate with you.
These are some common shortcuts that people take once they get desperate to pay their bills with their music. This isn’t how things were done before streaming. Before streaming artists would hit the streets and promote their music by selling CDs. They would connect with fans and get their brand in their fans faces.
Even today physical sales are one of the biggest sources of revenue for independent artists. Here are some areas you can start focusing on to start generating more money with your music.
Merchandise is a great way to monetize your fan base. Not only are you giving your fans something they can touch and feel and wear but they are also promoting your brand at the same time. You should start doing regular releases of your merchandise to keep your brand relevant. Collections can be paired with seasons or even LPs or singles. Today’s fans are looking for ways to be able to support their favorite artists and feel like they are a part of something new and exciting. Selling merchandise to your fans allows them to connect with your brand and feel like they are a part of your evolution as an artist.
Physical Format Sales
Instead of giving out business cards or links to your streaming page. Try instead to sell your music in a physical way. TrackRhino (www.trackrhino.com) is a great way to dip your toes into this world. With TrackRhino you sell a physical card that is custom branded with your album artwork or your brand. The card itself is tapped on a mobile phone and it loads up all of your music, merch and everything else a fan would like to access. They also get your music in a tangible, physical format which increases the value they have for your music.
Touring will always be a staple for music. Take your music out to the people at venues and gigs. Hit the streets and promote your show and introduce your music to a new crowd in different places. Musicians large and small swear by touring and how transformational it is for your career. Not only is this a great way to make money but at these shows you can also sell your merchandise and TrackRhino Cards if you got them.
At the end of the day you need to take control of your music promotion and sales. It is simply not enough to upload your music on to streaming site and sit back. This is what the losers in the music industry do. If you want to win, then learn from those already doing it. Get out there, promote and sell your music.