With the recent news from Apple regarding the closure of iTunes, the download era is effectively over. We all know that a musician cannot live off streaming revenue, not unless you’re planning on collaborating with Drake anyway, but that doesn’t mean you should write off making money from your music.
Your music should now be seen as the gateway to making money, a way to market yourself and show people exactly why they should be investing in you. The purpose of your music is no different, but now you shouldn’t be looking at a good album making you money, but instead gives you the green light to the roads that will.
Let’s break it down
A good single/album is a tool you can use to go to promoters and show them exactly why you should be their next headline act, if you can put on a good show and bring in a decent audience, you’re in. A musician’s greatest asset is their audience. As long as you have an audience, the potential to make a living from your music is still there. Prove to promoters that your audience is there – put effort into your social media, have an audience, but make sure they’re engaged with you. No one is impressed by thousands of followers but only a 1 or 2 comments when you post.
When the day of the gig comes, you need to make sure you’re getting more out of it than you originally thought you would. This brings me on to the topic of merch. How often do you see a Nirvana or Ramones t-shirt when you’re out? Now, how many of those wearing the t-shirts do you think can name more than 1 of the songs from that band? Most would struggle. My point is, if you have a tee that looks cool, is affordable and can appeal to a variety of people, it doesn’t matter if they’ve heard your latest single – they’ll buy that t-shirt. Make sure you have your merch to sell, even if you only sell the odd t-shirt at a gig, it all adds up.
Your audience is your most valuable asset
Now let’s go back to that audience. That audience could be exactly the audience someone else wants. The bigger that audience is, the more people will be willing to pay to put their business in front of that audience. There’s a reason the Kardashian’s are making millions from Instagram posts, and it shouldn’t be something you turn your nose up at. Utilise that audience. If your audience is big enough, people will pay you to feature on your social media, or on your website, they could even pay you to stick some of their leaflets out at one of their gigs.
There’s no reason why musicians can’t think of their music as a business. Build your social media, make sure your website is working and up to date, and get some merchandise and you’re on the right path to making money as a musician.