Three No-Cost Ways to Make Money for Musicians
Episode 008 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 and welcome to the Indie Musician Secrets podcast. I am your host Jamaal aka Boss Eagle, Billboard-charting hip hop artists and music business coach here at Business Minded Musicians. I want to welcome you to today’s episode. I am so, so excited to share with you or what we’re going to be talking about today. And before we jump in, I just want to remind you that you can stream this podcast on all your favorite platforms — on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, all those things. Don’t forget to rate review, share, and wherever you’re streaming this, even if it’s in like YouTube or something, feel free to leave me a comment. I love to hear what you’re working on, what you’re doing and how these episodes and the videos and stuff that we put out are serving you.
So we’re gonna dive right in today and we’re going to be talking about three no cost ways for [you] to make money for musicians. That’s three “no” cost ways to make money for musicians and that’s not “low” cost ways. So I’m going to share with you three different ways that you can be making money as a musician. Shows are back, which means a lot of artists will be hitting the road again. So that’s definitely one that you can do. I guess that’s a little bonus up top! That’s actually not one of the ones we’re gonna be talking about today.
But shows are back and festivals and everything as well. I’ve already booked a festival [and] waiting on another one right now. So that’s definitely back. And with that, you may be tempted to feel a certain way about the first thing I’m going to share, but let me elaborate on that. But because [live] shows are back, that may mean that there’s other opportunities. And the first one that we’re going to discuss is Live Streaming shows. I know that this was a big thing back when COVID was kind of at its peak, and everyone kind of rushed to the live streaming — even a lot of the big artists. I think the labels realized that it was a viable option as well. And because live shows are back, what I was mentioning earlier is you may be tempted to think, ‘well nobody’s gonna want to, you know, listen to a live stream show, no one’s gonna want to tune in.’ But the reality is that even though shows are back , it doesn’t mean that everyone is getting to every place just yet.
And the reality is that the benefit for us, I think, is that because live shows are back. Big artists are going to be hitting the road again [and] that might create more opportunity for us, because it’ll maybe leave a little bit of a void there, for live streaming, since a lot of the artists will be going back on stage and hitting the road again.
There are plenty of options to choose from. There’s Sessions Live, StageIt — those are kind of the two main ones; kind of “built-in” platforms that I’m familiar with. If there are other ones that you know about, please feel free to message those to me, send those to me. I’d love to share those and check those out as well. But there’s also Zoom. If you have a Zoom account, you can have a free account, obviously, it’s limited in terms of how many people you can have on with the free account, but still, that is an option. You have Facebook, you have YouTube Live, and these are pre built platforms. These are platforms that already exist. You can just pop on [and] do your show with some of them. You have the option to even chat and communicate with your audience; with the people who are on. So definitely think about those things–creating links and opportunities for folks to engage with you further.
You can also use your own site if you have your own website or some type of hosting platform– you can do that as well. I use a website builder called ClickFunnels, and there’s an option in there where you can have a broadcast room. So that’s something you could do too, especially if you want to sell tickets and then you can kind of control everything that’s around the video, whatever you want to have on the page, etc.
And with live streaming shows, what’s nice is that you can actually advertise them on your own so you can sell tickets, or just use the platform’s option. StageIt and Sessions Live kind of bring in the audience sometimes or they would share it. They have options where either [the audience] can pay a certain amount or a “pay what you can” that type of thing. Obviously if you’re using your own or another system like Zoom or Facebook or something like that, you’re going to have put together a few more pieces, but you might have a little bit more control too. So I would say test. Try out a couple of different things. Make sure you set up an online Tip Jar [and] provide the link for that as well.
I have a video on my YouTube channel for Business Minded Musicians that shows you how to create a virtual tip jar that doesn’t require your patrons to have a PayPal account. PayPal does have two ways to do that. One requires them to have a PayPal account, the other one doesn’t. View the video on YouTube here: https://youtu.be/sznAnmtz-YY
And then if you can, you might have to do a little bit more digging depending on the system that you’re using, but if you can, it’s always good to collect email addresses. So even if it’s not something that the platform provides you, if you can find a way during the show to say, “Hey, guys, go here and give me your email address. I’ve got a free gift for you. I’ve got something for you.” Any way that you can collect those email addresses would be awesome because then you can follow up afterwards. You can make offers, you can sell more merch, you can give them discounts or deals. You can ask them to stream your your music or other things that you have out there, whether it’s on YouTube, you can kind of keep that conversation going which is how we build that fan base–continuing to engage with them even beyond those things that we’re doing in the moment.
So one of the things that you can be doing right now as a no cost option would be to livestream your shows you can do that on a variety of platforms. Like I said, Sessions Live, StageIt, Zoom has a free account, Facebook [and] YouTube. If you have your own platform, you may already be paying monthly for that. So that might be a little bit different but you can live stream shows, make a little bit of money, or a lot of money. People are making thousands of dollars on live streams. Get really good at it and start making some money that way. And with that, like I said if you have those email addresses, what you can do is follow up later and ask them to buy other stuff, or offer different things that you have, which kind of takes me to my second point.
The second no cost option to make money is to have a liquidation sale. You’ve probably seen it from furniture stores, ski and snowboard shops, car dealerships– they do this all the time. Right? They get rid of their old inventory to make way for the new stuff. They mark their prices down and they say, “Liquidation sale. Everything must go,” and you can do that too. As an artist, I know that a lot of you out there listening probably have old t-shirts and hats and hoodies and CDs sitting around in your garage, your trunk, your attic, your basement, your office, etc. Consider getting rid of that old inventory to make way for new stuff. You can mark the prices down and just try to move that out of your inventory. Consider getting rid of your CDs or merch, stickers, etc. And one option that you can do, because I know a lot of artists probably have CDs, right? That’s kind of the easy thing; the number one thing that we tend to have, you can sell your CDs for five to seven dollars instead of ten.
Or do it the reverse way. Do what’s called a free plus shipping offer where you offer the CD for free [and] they just cover shipping and handling and packaging. So maybe you offer [your CD] for $5.95, and that covers [the cost to] put it in the mail and to buy a bubble mailer and all that stuff. Maybe you make one dollar or two off of it at the end, but at this point, the money that was spent up front is probably a wash, right? If you’ve had those CDs sitting around for a couple of years or so, what you paid up front (that premium that you could have made back), [it’s] not to say that you couldn’t still sell those CDs for $10. And I would say if you’re out on the roads still [sell them] for $10. But if you’re just trying to move stuff out, consider bringing that price down [and] maybe doing a free plus shipping offer, because at least you’re able to recoup something. And to be honest, if it’s been that long since you first got those CDs or whatever it may be–it’s been a couple of years–it’s almost like new money at this point!
So if you have 100 CDs sitting around and you make two bucks each off of them, at the end of the day, that’s 200 bucks that you didn’t have. You can’t put that in the same category as five years ago. Just focus on now and let’s try to make a little bit of money back. This [also] gives you the opportunity now, much like those car dealerships and furniture stores and stuff, to talk about new stuff. So if you do have new music or new merch coming out, you can do that same thing that these liquidation sales are all about. It’s about getting out the old inventory [and] making way for the new. So you could talk to your audience about that saying, “Hey, I’m getting rid of this stuff to make way for the new stuff.” And that’s the third no cost option–no cost way to make money: create and sell new merchandise.
I know what you’re thinking…
‘how do I create, go to a print shop, make more merchandise, [where] I don’t have to pay up front, then sell that? And I thought this was a no cost option.’
Let me explain. It is actually now easier than ever to create and sell new merch and accessories. There are so many options to choose from and there are things out there that you’re probably already familiar with like Shopify and Spring and Big Cartel. But you can actually sell merch without spending money, not only on the upfront cost, but on the ongoing as well. Sites like Shopify have a monthly fee, so that may be something that you’d have to consider. Well, there are ways that you can do it without even having that monthly fee, [that] give you the same tools and the same kind of power and ability. And can create and sell new merch without any upfront inventory [and] no stocking, no shipping, etc, etc. And one of the other things you want to think about is: [whether] you get the customers information as well. We’re trying to build [a] business right? We’re trying to build that relationship with our customers [and] with our fans. So you want to have an option that also allows you to have the customer data, which is why we don’t use Spring which is another option out there. But [with] Spring, when someone buys from you they’re actually buying from your store on Spring, but Spring keeps the customer data. You just get the margin. You want to have an option that allows you to do all of those things: create with no upfront costs, no ongoing costs, [allows] you [to] get to collect the data, all that stuff.
When you do this, it allows you to make money on merch without having to buy anything, without having to invest anything. And you can buy one-offs for yourself to wear to promote [on] your socials. You can create different styles, men’s and women’s cuts, color-ways, etc. So anytime you’re going to the traditional print house, every time you have a different design, different artwork, different color-ways, different cut–that’s all a different price. And so doing it this way, eliminates that so you can have all the different types of styles and cuts that are available. And there’s no minimum requirement, no minimum fees or minimum quantities. You can also use mockups to test different styles and designs so you can actually figure out what people like and what they want. You can post stuff on social media, and then add those things to your store when you find out what people actually like. Then you can use that money made to purchase merchandise for your live shows. Make some of that money up front and then go ahead and buy stuff, in bulk or whatever, to have when you’re going out on the road. And one of the things that would be really cool would be to pre-sell that merch online, and if you are going out on the road, ask people to buy it ahead of time and wear it to the show. How cool would that be if people are already coming to the show with new merch on, right? And [have] people like, “Hey, where’d you get that shirt? It’s not even available. I didn’t even see that on the website. It’s not over at the merch table.” That could be a great talking point as well.
This is actually one of the things that I do. I have a merchandise and marketing agency called Merch Tower. And one of the things we do [is] build Hassle-free Online Stores that kind of take all of the best of the online/on demand or “E-commerce” method, but does it in a way that doesn’t require you to have any upfront investment. I look at some of these other companies and there are great things about them: Shopify, Spring and Big Cartel. But there are also things that I think are limiting. Whether it’s Shopify having the monthly fee, Spring where you don’t get the customer data, [or] Big Cartel [that] limits how many designs you can put on your products based on the different pricing structure. What we do is we build hassle free online stores, that eliminate all of those things you can create as many products as you want. [And] if you have merch on hand, we can add those to your store with a quantity indicator as well. It’ll keep track of how many items you have left. It’s awesome. And again, it allows you to sell merchandise without having to pay anything upfront. So if that’s something that you’re interested in, check us out at merchtower.com. You can see the services that we offer there and give me a shout. We’d be happy to talk with you about your needs for creating and selling new merch.
I hope this episode was helpful for you: Three no cost ways to make money for musicians. You can implement any of these at any time. You probably already have heard about live streaming. Maybe you’ve done it, maybe you haven’t. So maybe try it out today. Do a 20-minute [or] 30-minute show on one of the pre-built sites. Go through all of your merch inventory, see what you have left and start posting stuff. Reach out to your email list, your Facebook friends, LinkedIn–whomever. See if you can start to move some of that stuff. And then also consider creating and selling new merchandise in a way that doesn’t require you to have any upfront or ongoing costs.
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