Making money with music: How the digital world is shifting things

The times they are a changing. Being an artist in this day and age brings about a lot of memories of yesteryear, a time when artists could make money by selling full albums. Long gone are the days of the single in the late fifties and early sixties. Obviously there were a lot less avenues to get your music out, and only the best of the best were offered record deals. If you could make it to that point and you signed a good deal, you were set. Now, the competition is fierce, and there is so much music out there with so many avenues to find it that it’s overwhelming.

Where does that leave those of us still trying to sell our music? There are still the digital download sites like iTunes, Amazon and Google Play. Selling your own music is something that every artist should be doing. Your website is your home, and is still very relevant. It’s a place for your fans to be a part of the action. Make it fun and interactive, visually stimulating, and have a great merchandise area where you sell your songs. Don’t undercut yourself either. You’ve put in a lot of blood, sweat and tears to make your music, and you deserve more than ninety nine cents. Consumers in this day and age need to understand just how much goes into making great music, and pay what it’s worth.

Music streaming makes up 75 per cent of music revenue. Spotify, Tidal, Apple Music, Pandora, YouTube, Amazon, Google Play, and Deezer make up the majority of streams. If you want to make money from streaming then you need to learn how it works and how to build the right relationships with playlist curators. After that, it’s a daily grind of hard work coupled with relentless marketing for it to be successful. The beautiful thing is, if you have a great song, and a great work ethic, it can be done.

Of course, if you can still afford to print physical CD’s or Vinyl then you have a way to make extra money. The key to that is to sell them at shows. There aren’t too many people buying CD’s online aside from the age demographic over 45, and even then it’s slim. In the last 19 years worldwide sales of physical music has gone down by twenty billion dollars. Too me, as much as I love having that physical record in my hands, it’s time to move forward. Think outside the box with your sales. Download cards are a great thing. They are essentially the new CD. You can still get artwork on it, package it with a nicely designed envelope. Another new way that is soon to hit the industry is customer appreciation cards. Just like the new Tim Hortons card where I get something free with every seventh purchase, these cards will add new incentives to being a fan of an artist. Couple your digital download card with one of these cards for added value to your fan’s purchase.

There are a lot of other ways you can utilize to bring in money to help sustain your career such as publishing, synching, YouTube, Sound Exchange, crowd funding and grants. I cant stress enough the importance of putting on your own show. Build it and they will come. Just think, three hundred people at $10 a piece. Do the math, it’s a great way to put money in the bank for merchandise, marketing, recording and touring. Yes, three hundred people seems daunting but again, the beautiful thing is that it can be done. It just takes hard work, a hit song, a great live show and a fantastic marketing plan.

Get up every morning, and grab the day by the horns, and do everything you possibly can to achieve your goal.