21 Ways to Make Money as a Musician (Part 2)
Episode 014 of The Indie Musician Secrets Podcast
INTRO: There are no secrets to success, just things you haven’t learned yet. And once you learn them, it’s up to you to apply them. I’m Jamaal, aka Boss Eagle, Billboard-charting hip hop artist and music business coach. Join me as we talk digital marketing, social media, technology and more, and share interviews with industry professionals to help you unlock the “secrets” and take control of your music career. Because we ARE the new music business, and this is the Indie Musician Secrets Podcast.
What’s up, what’s up, what’s up, everyone? Welcome to the Indie Musician Secrets Podcast. I am your host, Jamaal aka Boss Eagle, Billboard-charting hip hop artist and music business coach at Business Minded Musicians. I want to welcome you to today’s episode. Before we dive into the info, I just want to remind you that you can listen to the podcast on all your favorite platforms. And if you wouldn’t mind please subscribe, download, give me a five-star rating, review episodes — let me know that you’re listening, let me know that you’re enjoying, and let’s help continue to push the podcast forward. So without further ado, let’s jump right into it.
Today’s topic is “21 ways to make money as a musician.” This is part two. We did part one week ago where we talked about numbers one through seven. We’re going to go through numbers eight through 14 today. And we’re taking this from the Bandzoogle blog post entitled “21 ways to make money as a musician. So thank you to Bandzoogle. If you want to try Bandzoogle for your website, you can go to Bandzoogle.com to sign up. Use the promo code: BizMindedMusic and not only will you get a 30-day free trial, but you will also get 15% off any plan for your first year.
Alright, so we’re gonna dive right as we’re talking about 21 different ways to make money as a musician.
Number eight is to Sell Merch. This is one of my favorite things. I love merch. You can sell merch online or live shows. And according to Bandzoogle they actually had $9.4 million worth of merch sold through Bandzoogle members’ websites in just 2020 alone, so just a couple of years ago. Obviously you can sell T-shirts, CDs, mugs, hats, hoodies — those physical products. But you can also sell digital items like sheet music [and] lessons. I have a merchandise and marketing agency called Merch Tower if you want to check that out. I help artists set up what I call “Hassle-free” online merch stores. You can check that out at: merchtower.com.
Number nine is to Run a Crowdfunding Campaign. According to Bandzoogle, [crowdfunding] shouldn’t simply be treated as a way to make money. I absolutely agree with that because crowdfunding, in and of itself, is a little bit different. Yes, you are getting money from donations and the perks that you have. But it’s different from some of the other ways that we make money. It should be about making a connection with your biggest fans and bringing them along the journey with you. This one in particular stands out to me because I’m actually in the process of preparing to run a crowdfunding campaign to fund my my second album. But this is a definitely one way that you can generate some some revenue.
And if you are looking at running a crowdfunding campaign, you may want to check out a book called, “CrowdStart” by Ariel Hyatt. Ariel Hyatt, if you don’t know, is the owner of CyberPR which is a PR agency. And she’s actually done this herself. She had a $50,000 goal and I think ended up raising something like $62,000. I’m actually going to be probably getting this book. I’ve already started to watch some of her some of her videos through a training program that she has as well. If you are looking at trying to fund your next project, a single, album, EP, music, video, etc., even a tour, you might think about crowdfunding as well. And Bandzoogle [has] a crowdfunding page template for their websites. So if you wanted to do that and you want to run it yourself, which you know, I’m always a big fan of — artists taking that ownership and taking control of those things themselves (nothing against Indiegogo or Kickstarter, any of those) — you can do that right on your Bandzoogle website. I’ll leave a link for that book, “CrowdStart” by Ariel Hyatt, in the show notes and the description as well.
Running a crowdfunding campaign? Click here to get a copy of “CrowdStart” on Amazon.
Number 10: Offer Fan Subscriptions. This is honestly something that I have not done as of yet. Fan subscriptions are kind of where fans can subscribe to your website or a platform, like Patreon, for a monthly fee and then they get access to content. Maybe you offer early access to music videos or exclusives merch discounts, etc. But one thing I would encourage you to consider, and to remember, is that you want to make sure that you’re able to keep up with a fan subscription. This is going to require a lot of time and you don’t want to ‘over-sell’ and ‘under-deliver.’ If you’re not able to upload and keep up with all the content that you’re promising to put out there, fan subscriptions may be something you want to put off to the side, or maybe put on the back burner for now. Look at how some other folks are doing it successfully and try to model after that. But you really want to be able to deliver on fan subscriptions, especially because people are paying monthly. You want to make sure that they’re getting their money’s worth. So think about offering fans subscriptions if that is something that makes sense for you and your brand and your business. Again, that can be a way for you not only to generate revenue but to generate recurring revenue!
Number 11 is to Collect Your Public Performance Royalties. You want to sign up with a PRO, or performance rights organization. In the US, that would be ASCAP or BMI. We also have SESAC here, but SESAC is invitation only, so BMI or ASCAP is who you sign up with. PROs collect royalties on behalf of songwriters and publishers. So if you’re an independent artist and you’re writing your own music, you should be publishing that music with PRO. And what they’re going to collect is [for] is when music is played in music venues, sports arenas, shopping malls, etc. The PRO is going to collect money from those venues based on the licenses that they sell those venues. And then they distribute the money to the writer. So if you’re the songwriter and you’re the publisher — again, this is not the artist, we’ll talk about that in a second — but for the songwriter and the publisher, then your PRO is going to collect that and then distribute those funds to you. So make sure that you are registered with a PRO. That’s one of the first things you should be doing as an independent artist — just making sure you’re setting up all of your protections there.
Number 12 is to Join SoundExchange and Get Digital Royalties. This is when your music gets played on non-interactive streaming services. They have to pay royalties. Non-interactive streaming services would be like Pandora, XM Satellite Radio. These are where the user doesn’t choose directly what they want to listen to. That’s different from say, Spotify, which is interactive streaming. I can go on Spotify and I can pick the song that I want to listen to, versus Pandora, [where] I can choose a theme or an artist, but it’ll play stuff that’s similar to that. But I’m not exactly getting to choose a song that I want to listen to. SoundExchange is going to collect on behalf of the artist and the copyright owner of the master. If you are an indie and you own your own music, you’re the copyright holder. They’re collecting 100% for that from these types of services. They’re going to distribute the certain amount to the artist (which is the main artist) and they hold 5% for any kind of background or other featured artists. And then the other part is for the copyright holder. So make sure that you sign up for SoundExchange. Register your songs and make sure you’re collecting any money that is owed to you as a songwriter, as a publisher, as an artist, as a copyright owner, etc. Make sure that you’re going through all of these things.
Number 13 is Collecting Your Live Performance Royalties. These are royalties from your live performances (when you perform your own original music, this is not for covers). When you do a show at a bar, a club, a theater, wherever it is, you should be going back into your PRO account, whether that’s with BMI or ASCAP, and register your live performance. You’re going to put your setlist and the information about the venue. Your PRO is going to make sure that you get [paid] if you’re the songwriter or publisher. Not the artist, again, because they’re collecting for the songwriter & publisher. But they’re going to make sure that the songwriter and publisher collect those royalties from live performances of your music.
I will be completely transparent with you. I’ve definitely forgotten to do this several times. But as much as you can remember (on ASCAP it’s called On-Stage, I don’t know what it’s called for BMI, but I’m sure it’s something very similar in terms of process), go in and register the setlist [for] your performance, so that your PRO can collect on your behalf.
Lastly, Number 14 is to Collect All of Your Mechanical Royalties. Yes, this is a very royalty-heavy episode, but these things are important. Mechanical royalties are paid to songwriters or rights holders for music that is purchased — CDs vinyls, downloads, music streams. Your digital distributor, a lot of times, can collect these things on your behalf. In the US, the retailers here include these royalties with payments to digital distributors. So when your digital distributors pay and then you get your your cut. That’s how it works in the US. But if it’s outside the US, the payments gets sent to royalty collection societies, and then they distribute the royalties to the music publishers.
If you want to make sure you collect your royalties outside of the US (if you’re a US artist and you want to collect outside of the US, say, in Canada or France or whatever), you actually would need to register with each royalty collection society, individually. Yeah, good luck with that, right? That would be pain, because you’re going to have to, first, go find out who they all are, and there are ways to do that. But then you’re going to have to go register your music with each one of those collection societies. What I would suggest that you do is have your digital distributor collect these for you. For example, CD Baby is one of the largest digital distributors of music. If you sign up with their PRO account (there’s also a standard account, which is cheaper) which is a little bit more, it’s not a ton more, they kind of become the publishing admin on your behalf. And then when those things are happening around the world, they’re already collecting those for you and bringing them back into your account. They’re bringing in those royalties, those mechanical royalties, on your behalf so you don’t have to go register with SOCAN in Canada and all these other collection societies. When you register with with CD Baby or TuneCore or any of these, if they have a PRO distribution model I would highly recommend that you sign up with that instead of [the] basic [plan]. Make sure that you’re getting paid everything that is due to you. I’ll also include the link to this blog post in the show notes and the description as well, if you want to follow up on any of these things.
Check out the full blog post here: 21 Ways to Make Money as a Musician
There might be some new concepts like mechanical royalties, live performance royalties and public performance royalties. But really, these things are important. And if we’re going to be business minded musicians, we have to think, we have to operate, like a business. These are the ways that we start to put our music business together, and we have to make sure that we are doing what we need to do to make sure that these things are in place. There have been stories of this happening all the time, where ASCAP has had $200,000 sitting there because [someone] didn’t have this one thing set up. Or [where] somebody finally registered for SoundExchange and then went and looked at the backlog and got a big payouts because their music had been playing. But they just weren’t registered. Go through these things and make sure that you check all of the boxes.
ACTION ITEM: Sell Merch
After learning all of this great new stuff, and again, I know there’s a lot to unpack there, but one thing you can do is you can create and sell merch. That’s something you don’t have to sit around and wait for. You don’t have to wait for a PRO to collect for you on your behalf. You don’t have to wait for SoundExchange. You don’t have to wait for a crowdfunding campaign’s 30 or 45 Day term to run. Merch is something that you can create today and start selling today. Literally, it’s one of the most active things you can do as an artist. So what I want you to do is I want you to think about at least one new product you can create: a tank top, new T shirt, or a hoodie — people love hoodies. Hoodies are a year-round item, right? Maybe it’s a new hat, a water bottle, something like that, that you can create [and] put out for your fans [to] sell and actually start to generate money right away.
One of the sites that you can use is called Printful. You can actually create and sell merch with Printful without having any inventory or any stock upfront. I’ll go ahead and also leave a link to Printful in the show notes and the description so you can check that out.
I use Printful, and again, it’s something that you can create today. You can literally go create a t-shirt right after listening to this podcast episode, sell it Printful and get it to your customer. That’s what I really love about Printful, that there is no inventory stocking — no upfront costs. You get the profit margin after they take the wholesale costs, so you have no upfront costs. It’s amazing!
If you want to get a 30-day free trial of Bandzoogle, plus 15% off your first year on any plan, go to Bandzoogle.com, choose your plan, enter the promo code: BizMindedMusic, and not only will you get that 30-day free trial, but also 15% off any plan for the first year. And Bandzoogle has some amazing templates for artists.
If you have any questions or any topics you’d like to cover, you can email Questions@IndieMusicianSecrets.com. Don’t forget to rate and review, I would really appreciate a five-star rating — that would be awesome! Review the episodes that you’re listening to [and] let me know what you’re getting out of this, and that you’re liking the show. And as always, please, please, please share the podcast with anyone that you think it would be helpful for. I would greatly appreciate that. So with that being said, go do your action item — think about something you can create and sell [and] get that out there. Go through the other items to make sure everything is set up with your PRO, SoundExchange, etc. And other than that, God bless and I will see you when I see you. Peace!
OUTRO: Thank you for listening. Don’t forget to follow the Indie Musician Secrets Podcast on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, or wherever you listen. And make sure to leave us a rating and review. Also share this episode with other indie musicians who you think it would be beneficial for. And for more helpful resources to help you grow your music business, visit us at: businessmindedmusicians.com. I hope this episode has served you we’ll talk to you on the next episode.
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