As a musician, your main aim is to get people to listen to your music and although streaming is the easiest way to get you music discovered, nothing compares to live performance. Performing live is the best way to directly connect with your fans as they get to see you on a personal level, interact face to face and finally bring to life everything they’ve listen to and seen online.
It’s estimated that live events in the music industry will be worth $31 billion worldwide by 2022, so we all know the money is there but how does an emerging artist go about bringing in money from their live events? Well in this blog post we’re going to explain exactly that and how getting a photographer can result in more ticket sales, more fans and result in a high return on investment.
1.PHONES ONLY WORK TO A CERTAIN DEGREE
If you want to attract more people to your gigs, then a phone video isn’t quite going to cut it. Although a phone video/photo is rawer because it’s shot from the crowd and has a personal feel to it, phone videos are not at a high enough quality to promote your live events and don’t do them justice. The footage has flat and blown out colours as well as audio that doesn’t capture your true sound, it’s something you really don’t want to use for promotion, therefore investing in a photographer or videographer for your next set, could lead to more sales for your next one.
A photographer/videographer is going to be using a professional camera, so you will be getting higher quality content to use for your social media and to add to your EPK. Once you’ve received the images or videos from the professional, you can edit them into Instagram ads, which you can then use to promote your next gig, which will lead to more ticket sales as a true representation of your gigs should prove to an audience that it’s worth investing in you.
Make sure to message your photographer/videographer prior to your gig to explain things such as lighting and sound so to help them get the best shots possible. You need to also explain what your set will look like, so they know what to expect and where to be at what time. You can also take advantage of the fact someone’s shooting the event by singing to the camera or jumping into the crowd, just to add that extra bit of exciting content.
2. HIGH QUALITY VISUALS ATTRACTS MORE FANS
You all want to have as many fans as possible because fans are what makes you succeed as an artist and the visuals are what can draw them in. Humans are visual consumers in 2019, meaning they take in visual content far more easily and engage with it at a higher rate. Therefore, having these images and videos to put in front of your already existing audience and potential fans, will lead to more interaction and therefore more fans.
If all you ever post is gig announcements rather than actual visuals from the live events, it will bore your audience but by having photos from your gigs, people will see what your gigs are like and will be more likely to want to come.
These visuals can also be shared around too, being uploaded to the photographer’s social media accounts and the company/venue’s that put on the gig. This means that you are going to be seen by a larger audience than just the people that follow your account, growing your fan base like never before.
3. PHOTOGRAPHS ARE PART OF YOUR BRANDING
You need to remember that you’re creating a brand as well as making music and in this digital era, the content you put out is your branding. Therefore, the photos and videos you’re putting out to the world, will identify to the consumer what your sound is, what your message is and will persuade them to follow or not engage at all. High quality visuals are what will draw someone in as it shows you’re professional, take your music seriously and good quality images and videos will also represent your image, so the consumer will know what to expect from the content alone.
If you can put on a good show and have photos of you with a large crowd, then larger venues will be more likely to let you play there. This is because the venue wants to make money too so if you can bring in lots of people then they’re going to make more money. This is also the case with press and radio, if they see you’re bringing in a crowd from images and videos, they’re more likely to feature you as they know you have a dedicated fan base there and that will benefit them also.
Any sort of visual content is your brand, so investing in these photographers and videographers is well worth the money and has a high ROI financially but more importantly with your overall growth in fans and engagement.
4. IT GIVES YOU MORE CONTENT FOR SOCIAL MEDIA
Being a musician can be extremely difficult as you’re having to juggle the creation of the music, the promotion, releasing and then on top of that, most probably a full-time job, so sometimes your social media profiles can be neglected. However, as we’ve already mentioned, the content you create is your branding, so you need to be posting daily and having this content from gigs, provides you with the content you need to be able to post regular.
These photos and videos can be extremely engaging as it offers something different from your usual content, allows your followers to see you live and is also exciting for the people that went to the event. You can even caption the post “Did you come to our gig on Friday? Try to spot yourself in the audience”, which will encourage more engagement and trigger the Instagram algorithm to push your content out to more people.
5. IT CREATES A BETTER EXPERIENCE FOR FANS
Although fans will record and photograph part of your set as a personal memory of the event, you can hire a photographer to take better quality photos for a record of the event too. You can use this to encourage fans to focus more on having a good time and enjoying the moment, rather than worrying about getting the photo or short clip on their phone because you have someone taking photos.
A lot of large musicians such as Kendrick Lamar, The Lumineers and Guns N’ Roses have already started to do this at their concerts to create the best experience for their fans and to go back to what concerts used to be.
WHERE TO FIND THE BEST PHOTOGRAPHER FOR YOU?
Now that you’ve decided that you’re going to get a photographer or videographer to your next gig, you now need to find the best one for you. The place to start is social media, mainly Instagram as it’s designed solely for sharing photos and videos. You could just search ‘music photography’ and find some amazing work but the accounts could be from another country so to filter these out, search by location and look at the venues in your area or where you’re performing next. Once you’ve found the venue, look at posts it’s been tagged in and posts with the venue as the location.
Now that you’ve started a band and released music, there’s going to be a lot going on all at once. From live gigs, producing new songs, promotion, Merch, finances and just general band chatter.
Most bands will use something like a Whatsapp or iMessage group to keep each other informed with what’s going on. But that can become frustrating as perhaps two of your band members are trying to discuss the logistics of a live gig, while the other two are debating which video needs to get uploaded to the band’s social media next. Both are just important as the other
What ends up happening is that messages get missed because some members switch off when the conversation is about something that doesn’t concern them, or maybe you have to refer back to something, but there’s been so much chit chat since that key bit of information was posted it’s impossible to scroll back and find it.
So here’s our 4 FREE tools to get your band organised right now!
Tool number 1 is Slack, it is the PERFECT solution to everything I have described above. Have you ever exchanged emails with the same group of people, but talking about various topics on a consistent basis, so you have to keep jumping around different subjects and things just get incredibly messy. That’s why slack was invented, and it’s what you need for your band.
Slack is an instant messaging app which is available on any device. It allows you to separate chats in to topics even though you’re chatting with the same group of people. You can choose who is included in each topic, so maybe only two of you actually book your gigs, so there’s no need for the other band members to be involved in those conversations, you can have a separate channels for marketing, songwriting, finances and even a general chat for everything else.
This app will keep your communication streamlined and make sure the right information goes to the right people.
This is the best tool for arranging rehearsals and songwriting sessions. Have you ever had an occasion where each band member has their own personal schedule, so organising times to meet up can be HELL.
Well Doodle to the rescue, this free app allows each member to enter the times they are available and Doodle will propose the most suitable times for your meetups where every band member is available.
Google Calendar allows you to create a shared calendar which all of your band can access and contribute to.
This means you can create a calendar which shows all of your upcoming gigs, rehearsals and songwriting sessions which is updated in real time and everyone can see.
Trello is an incredibly versatile app which allows you to use it in any way you like.
With Trello you create a series of boards, just like Slack you can divide everything in to various topics.
Each board has a series of lists, otherwise known as buckets. Here you can add various information, tasks or ideas and move them from list to list.
So for example you can create a board for your social media so you can organise your posts. You can have 3 lists, ideas, where band members can submit their idea for a post, scheduled/approved where when the band agrees on the post it can be scheduled, and a final list where posts can be moved to after they’ve been posted.
Most artists still have it seared in their minds that signing a record deal will make their musical career change overnight and are constantly wondering how to get signed to a record label, but do you really know what a label can do for you and if it’s the best direction for your music? Signing with a label can be fantastic for some artists but disastrous for others, so let’s break down the pros and cons of signing with a record label, which types of labels you can sign with and the contracts they offer.
It’s quite clear as to why artists want to sign a major label record deal. With Universal holding the entire top 6 albums positions in Billboard 200 in October 2018, artists want that level of success and see a major label as the only way to get there. However, the independent labels have had success too. One such success being Ben Haggerty, aka Mackelmore, who decided to release his debut single ‘Thrift Shop’ completely independently. As of 2017, Haggerty was estimated a net worth of $18 million.
You can stay completely unsigned, sign to an independent label or potentially get a deal with a major label but what are the issues and benefits of each?
1. How Labels Operate in 2019
What a record label offers an artist in 2019 has had to shift hugely due to the industry’s drastic changes. Instead of promising artists the opportunity to get on TV or sell physical albums, the label must be focusing on social media presence, plugging tracks to YouTubers, brand collaborations, relationships with digital streaming platforms and general fan base growth outside of music sales. If a label isn’t offering you this, then what is the benefit?
In recent years, you may have seen major labels signing individuals who have gone ‘viral’ or blown up on social media, examples include the ‘Cash Me Outside girl’ and ‘Walmart Yodelling Kid’, both signed to Atlantic Records. This is proof alone that major labels are looking for the next viral trend to sign, so they immediately have a guaranteed income off the back of that artist.
The overall label business model has had to change with the times, meaning artists can no longer approach a label for a deal simply because they think their music is strong. A label is looking for you to be in demand, or see potential of you being in demand, whether this be through social media figures, live event turn out or even just extremely marketable music. This may differ slightly for independent labels who focus more on the artists development over time, but we’ll get into that more later.
A label isn’t going to knowingly enter into an arrangement that could potentially expose them to liability, tire out resources and destroy strong contacts, so take a step back and see what you’re offering them, before pushing them for an offering. Before even thinking about getting signed you need to polish your sound, grow your socials by creating consistent content and perfect your overall branding.
2. Indie Vs. Major Labels
In theory, anyone can state that they are a record label if they want to. Everything from a multi-million corporate machines down to a kid sat in their living room, so it’s essential you know the difference and research who is what.
A record label is defined as independent if it’s completely funded independently and is not at all connected to one of the main major labels. Unlike major international labels who have enough money to operate their own publishing, distribution and marketing, indie labels outsource everything to other companies, working alone with outside resources to help grow their artists. A major label is defined as a label that commands a high percentage of annual record sales and can publish, distribute and market all its own content. The distinction between Indies and majors is fairly exaggerated in the press but the big selling point of any major record label is of course its financial clout.
Many people seem to believe that record labels have died recently, or all artists are suddenly going down the independent route. This isn’t true but where there were once six major labels in 1998, now there are just three remaining: Sony, Warner Music Group, and Universal, which became the largest international record company after merging with EMI in 2017. The labels haven’t disappeared or stopped producing well-known artists, they’ve just had to adapt with the times, which means becoming more technologically advanced, which many artists have been able to do themselves, independently.
When you sign a major record deal, you are often signing away a large percentage of your record sales. This may seem sort of backwards but by giving away a percentage of your earnings, the record label will be spending more on your progression and musical growth. According to TheRoot, for every $1,000 in music sold, the average contracted major label recording artist makes about $23.40. Whereas Digital Music News stated that an unsigned artist makes 4x more from streaming than a major label artists, so you must take this into consideration. Although you’re giving away a larger percentage of your record sales, your supplies are close to infinite with major distribution, booking agents, high end producers and marketing agencies, proving the major labels have the budget to allow them to access top-notch professionals.
With a major label, you’ll probably have your point of contact but with the staff turnover at the majors being so high, you could wake up one morning to find the person that supported your music from the start, no longer works there and the whole label has lost interest. The indie labels however, have a more personal approach as their team is smaller. Your music succeeding will help them as much as it helps you and they quite often gain strong relationships with their roster, which means it’s a long-standing contract, unlike the majors who can drop artists extremely quick. You can try to include a ‘key man’ clause in your contract to try to avoid your point person drifting off, but often the bargaining power is against you when signing a major label deal, so scoring this is never guaranteed.
What’s clear is the main difference between indie and major labels is the money behind them. The issue with independent labels is that they can range so greatly in size, success and funds, meaning they may not actually be beneficial for you at all. You need to weigh up the pros and cons but also look into what you want to gain from being with a label. If you want to give the labels what they want, which is essentially the sound that is most ‘in’ currently, then a major label is fitting, but if you want to stick to your roots, securing a legitimate fanbase gradually, then perhaps a passionate independent label can help you.
3. How to Attract Record Labels
Record labels are difficult to get in contact with, especially as there are just so many artists dreaming to get signed to a major label.
What the labels are looking for
The secret to getting signed to a major label is to actually not aim to get signed to a major label. Artists assume their music will be the reason a major label will sign them, but Major labels are looking for artists who are the ready-made package. Due to advancements in technology, it’s not possible for an Artist to blow up completely due to the Spotify or YouTube algorithm, which means that labels are looking for Artists who already have a fan base and tracks which are organically generating streams month by month, long gone are the days of taking a risk on an artist who has good music and pushing them out to radio and music channels.
How to get your music noticed by labels
The major labels have A&R teams who are constantly scouting Spotify playlists looking for artists who are on the rise and generating a loyal fan base big enough to sell out their shows. But sometimes you can be unlucky and get missed by the A&R reps, so here’s how you can help get noticed.
Get featured on blogs
A&R’s by nature love music, they are constantly consuming music and reading about the latest bands who are gaining press coverage. So getting featured on blogs can be your first step to getting on the radar of the labels. To get featured on blogs you can use platforms such as Submithub or if you have the budget, consider getting a Music PR campaign.
Find influential people on Linkedin
The easiest place to find A&R’s from the major labels is using Linkedin, the search function will allow you to search for people based on the organisation they work at and their job role. You can then connect with them, and update your Linkedin statuses with valuable information that they’d be interested in as well as plugging your music. We don’t recommend contacting them directly on Linkedin as they’re constantly bombarded in this area. One tip is once you’re connected with them, go to their profile and click “Contact info”, it will display their email address which will allow you to reach out to them personally.
If you’re finding that you don’t have any ‘2nd connections’ in order to connect with someone, I recommend trying to connect with as many people at that company as you can, and one hack is to connect with the HR manager as they will have the most inter-company connections which will allow you to have a ‘2nd connection’ with all of the people you’d like to connect with.
Find A&R’s email address
Once you’ve used Linkedin to find the names of the A&R’s at each label, you can connect with them, but there’s only a small chance that they actually accept your invitation, so what’s the next step?
You need to email them cold and introduce them to your music. Finding their email address is close to impossible, however an industry secret is to use a platform such as Hunter.io, this will crawl the internet for email addresses at that company, and it will be able to detect the formula used for the company’s email addresses, and give you multiple predictions of what their email address could be.
Run ads targeted to people who work at labels
You can use the power of modern day advertising platforms to get your music in front of the most influential people in the industry. Both Facebook, Linkedin and Instagram allow you to run ads to people who work at specific companies. So you could set up promo videos for your music and only target people who work at Sony Music and Universal Music Group, which will raise awareness for you as an artist and may get you a follow from someone who could change your life!
4. What Deal to Sign
If you’re determine that signing a contract with a label is the right path for you, there are many different deals that you could be offered to sign.
– Production Deal
Rather than signing to the label directly, with a Production Deal you’re essentially signing to a specific producer who has an agreement with the label to help develop artists. This sort of deal is more of artist development, helping you to create a better product, which will in time creates a bigger fanbase. All sounds great right? The small print is that you will take a BIG % cut, as many deals see that the producer can take up to 50% of royalties, so read everything careful and weigh up whether it’s actually beneficial in the long term, to take this cut in the short term.
– Distribution Deals
This deal is pretty self-explanatory. You are expected to create, produce and have the fully formed material ready and then the label simply gets the product out there. This includes anything from albums to music videos and these will go out on the label’s own major digital channels. This sort of deal is fantastic for an artist as it puts their content out in places which was never before possible, however the label looks to take around 25% of the money generated.
– Major Label Record Deal
Now we’re getting to the sort of deals that most musicians dream of and see as the typical ‘record deal’. This deal is when the label will be part of your overall development, the recording process, distribution and marketing and in most cases, the label will cover all expenses. These types of deals can be extremely complex and are different for each case but usually, the artist will receive around 15% of revenue generated.
– The 360 Deal
Many believe this is the future of label deals, seen as the newest and most successful deal that artists can take. This deal involves all aspects of the artists development, management, touring and overall brand growth in exchange for a large percentage of revenues generated across all channels, not just the music sales. The benefit of this deal is the label is working 100% on your side, using all their contacts and tools to see you grow.
The 360 Deal is becoming the go-to deal for record labels in 2019, offering a pseudo-manager style relationship looking after the artist’s entire career, rather than just selling the music itself. Although the artist will be getting all of the label’s support and attention, there’s some controversy around the idea of it as many see it as only really profitable for the label. Controversial or not, the 360 deal is becoming increasingly common in 2019.
5. Do I Need to Sign a Record Deal?
Major label record companies are business at the end of the day, they do everything they can do to create profit. Every bit of help you gain for a major label, whether that be investment into your music, your brand or your marketing, will be to eventually start creating a profit off the back of you. This comes with its issues as the artist will likely lose control over their rights but also their creativeness, meaning you need to be comfortable saying yes.
We strongly recommend you focus on being an independent artist before even thinking about signing any deal. Finding real success in music is a tough gig but in this digital age, there are so many tools designed to help artists record and promote their own music that signing a deal at such an early stage could be pointless or potentially damage your career. Not just that, but there’s a huge sense of creative freedom for artists who find success in music by going it alone and if you never test that, you may live to regret it.
With 55% of people listening to new music via video, 23% with paid subscriptions and 22% using free audio streaming, this allows independent artists the chance of exposure without a major label. Pitching to YouTubers, playlist curators and streaming platform editors gives all artists a chance to get in front of the right people, which was never before possible. Alongside streaming is social media growth, with close to half the world’s population on some form of social media. Social media offers independent artists the potential reach of half the world and the best part is, it’s free. You don’t need to be signed to get your music on streaming platforms, you don’t need to be signed to get your name out there on social media and you certainly don’t need to be signed to release the music you love. These labels have the contacts, which helps, but it’s still 100% achievable independently.
The industry is constantly changing, with recent news in 2019 showing Spotify making major moves that are putting major labels on edge, YouTube releasing their own streaming platform and SoundCloud launching SoundCloud Premiere. Every day there is potential for independent artists to grow drastically through a new platform like Tik Tok or perhaps a major label will pay out a major streaming service, making it close to impossible for independent artists to get picked up by them. You never know what’s around the corner so it’s essential you’re following the consumer statistics, watching out for new platforms and testing every new promotional technique you can. A label will either make or break you, so predict the outcome based on the industry’s current trends, your goals and the label’s recent success stories as you could be making a decision that will change your life forever.
Getting your music on the radio can do wonders for your career but where do you even start? It may seem impossible if you don’t have a music PR company plugging away but getting your track in front of the right people is possible to do independently, if you have the right pitch that you’re sending to the correct person. This simple guide will take you through the step by step process in getting your music on the radio, all the way from choosing which track to pitch, to getting played to BBC Radio 1.
1. You’re pitching the wrong track
The first thing you must consider when plugging to radio is whether your track is radio friendly. A song that is radio friendly is under 4 minutes, has no swearing or derogatory terms and doesn’t have a strong political or religious message. The reason for this is the censorship rules in the UK, as the BBC are very strict and you’ll find they deem many songs unfit for air due to breached rules on religious grounds, drug references and attacks on the monarch.
You may have a full EP or album and you don’t know which track to pitch to radio. The best thing to do in this situation is choose the most catchy, commercial sounding song from the collection. Once you think you’ve done that, ask around and get multiple opinions as you may be bias to your favourite. You’ll soon find there is a clear winner and that is the most radio friendly track.
2. You’re pitching too many tracks
If you’re pitching multiple tracks, ask yourself why you’re doing this. If you think all your songs from the EP/Album are worth pitching, you’re wrong, there’s always a more radio friendly track. You want to focus all your energy and time into one song and off the back of this, your full EP/Album will be gaining attention.
However, if you feel your EP/Album has multiple styles throughout, that’s when you can look at promoting more than one song. If one track is a commercial pop and the other is a dance remix, you can push the remix to dance stations, giving you more areas to connect with and therefore more radio plays.
3. You don’t know how to pitch a track
Radio plugging can be a lot harder than general online music promotion, as producers and presenters are bombarded with tracks daily, hence radio pluggers are so expensive, as they have taken years to build their contacts. However, if you’re pitching correctly, you can get the same results.
You must start by uploading your single to SoundCloud as a private link. This is the easiest way for producers and presenters to stream your music. DO NOT attach it as an MP3 or just sent a link to download as this will block their inbox and they don’t have time to download something they’re not sure they will like. Your email will go straight into the bin!
Now you have the SoundCloud link, you must also create a link for the song to be easily downloaded. The most popular and easy to use are WeTransfer and DropBox. The MP3 must be titled correctly also as ‘Artist Name – Song Title’.
You need to include both the SoundCloud and the download link within your pitch as this mean the producer/presenter can easily listen to the track to know if they want to download it, then download it to play.
Above your press release you will have your pitch. Your pitch can follow the format below:
“Hi (insert name),
Hope you’re well? I am (insert name) from (insert band name). I was hoping to get your thoughts on our upcoming single (insert song title) for a play on your radio show (insert radio show title).
You can stream (insert song title) here: INSERT PRIVATE SOUNDCLOUD LINK
Or download it here: INSERT DOWNLOAD LINK”
From here you insert important facts from the press release e.g. who you’ve supported, who you’re influenced by, information on the song and any previous press.
Finish the email with what you’re asking for from them.
“I’d love to hear your thoughts on this for a play and if of interest, we’re available for interviews.
Looking forward to hearing your thoughts.
The most important part is the ‘important facts’ as this is what will make you stand out from the hundreds of other sending similar emails. Examples of ‘important facts’ that will make you stand out are…
Big names you’ve supported
Any large press/blogs that have covered you in the past
Producer for the single
Another way to stand out is to search a similar artist to yourself. For example, if you felt you sounded like Tom Misch, you can search to see where Tom Misch has been played and then approach the correct producer for that show saying…
“I noticed you played Tom Misch last week. I’ve got a very similar sound with my latest single (insert song title), so I’d love to hear your thoughts.”
By doing this, the producer/presenter will know what sound to expect but it’ll also prove that you know and listen to their show.
*Bonus Tip:When doing this, you can use the BBC to search. Simply search BBC Radio, then search the artist you’re looking for and click ‘Music’. You’ll then find their artist profile, with their tracks at the bottom. If you click each track, it’ll show you which show it was last played on, which you can use to know which shows could potentially play your song.
4. You’re pitching to the wrong people
So, you have your pitch but who do you send it to? Your first task is uploading to BBC Introducing and Amazing Tunes. These uploaders are the perfect gateway to national radio play, with Amazing Radio supporting emerging artists and BBC Introducing working as a springboard to BBC Radio 2, 6 Music and even 1. If your track is played by either Amazing Radio or BBC Introducing, you’ll be notified by email, so you can listen to it being played on air. If it is to be played, follow up with the correct producer thanking them and also letting them know you’re available for interview or sessions (that’s if you are!).
Now to the real pitching. You need to start small and build up and there’s no better place to start than with your local stations. If you’re from Cambridge, you can look at sending your song to Cam 105 and if you’re from Wandsworth, you could pitch to Wandsworth Radio…I think you get it. Simply search your location on Google, with the word ‘radio’ after and you’ll find tons of results. Don’t just stop there, you can look into student radio stations in your area and even online stations. This may take you some time but if you’re patient, you’ll soon enough have a portfolio of plays for your song.
Genre specific radio stations are the next path to go down. You can find these with a simple Google search or even looking through social media. Use the above tip we gave for standing out by searching for a similar artist, for finding correct radio stations too. If you think you sound like No Hot Ashes, search on Google and social media to see which radio stations have played them in the past. You can also find smaller radio stations that may have shown them support by looking at their Twitter followers.
Getting played on national radio stations is extremely hard, as you’re not just battling with emerging bands but also internationally renowned artists that have people plugging their music constantly to contacts they work closely with. Don’t be disheartened, this doesn’t mean the producers will just ignore you, as you could be the next big thing that they want to have spotted first but you have to pitch to them as if you are.
Make sure you’ve collected your portfolio of plays from the lower level radio stations first and have already confirmed a BBC Introducing play. Once you’ve done that, use the above pitch but really use those ‘important facts’ to make yourself stand out. You need to have that one thing that makes them listen, whether that be previous press, a major support slot or working with a big-name producer.
Be certain that you’re sending it to the correct producer and show. If you’re an electro pop band, don’t send your track to BBC Radio 1’s Daniel P Carter Rock show, you’ll piss off a lot of people and that’s not the right way to get your foot in the door. Each radio show has a description of what they play on their site, so you can see if it’s relevant to your music. If you’re not sure after reading the description, listen back to it for 10 mins to see if you can picture your track being played on it.
Once you’ve sent the email, wait a week to see if they get back to you. These people are very busy so may need at least one follow up, even 2/3 but don’t bombard them and be polite in your following up.
This whole process of plugging your track to radio will take a few weeks but if you have the patience and time, you’ll get the results
The dream for any artist is to make a living from their music but how do you actually start making money? Besides physically selling the music, what can you do to start bringing in a wage for yourself, whilst still creating music that you love?
The key for musicians in 2019 is to diversify their streams of income. No musician makes money strictly from Spotify or only from touring, so in this blog post we’re going to give you 7 simple tips, which will lead you to earning money from your music in no time.
1. DIGITAL STREAMING REVENUE
Digital streaming is behind the biggest rise in UK sales for two decades. Spotify pays an average of 0.00437p per stream, meaning if you get 1 million streams you’ll receive just over £4,000. This may not sound like a huge amount of money, but Spotify is an easy way to gain exposure and springboard you into other opportunities to gain money, such as live events. Spotify generated $40million+ in tickets sales in 2017, showing that it is an effective gateway to many other income streams in music. Plus, that 1 million streams and £4,000 worth of revenue is easier to make than ever due to Spotify’s powerful algorithm.
To really start seeing the money come in from Spotify, pitch your music to user curated Spotify playlists, sharing your Spotify on socials and blogs and in in time the Spotify algorithm will pick up that your streams are increasing, that you’re getting added to playlists and what bands may be similar to you, meaning you appear on Discover Weekly, Top Recommendations and eventually Official Spotify playlists.
With the new Spotify submission tool allowing you to submit your upcoming material to Spotify officials, Spotify promotion is a lot easier to do yourself. You may find yourself on a major playlist, generating a large number of streams in no time, which eventually leads to receiving payment.
People sometimes complain about the royalties they receive from Spotify but besides paying a distributor to have it uploaded, the platform is free for your music to be on. You’re being offered an opportunity to make money on a free platform and that’s an opportunity you cannot complain about!
2. LIVE PERFORMANCE
People love hearing live music and musicians love playing it, so it’s a perfect match for the creator and the consumer. Gigging is one of the most profitable parts of the music industry, with estimates that live music industry will be worth $31 billion worldwide in 2022.
Chances are you’ll be making money from the tickets sold online, bought at the door or an agreed percentage of sales from your promotor/venue owner. However, there’s also two other ways to start bringing money from live events.
Alongside gigs, there’s also festivals which pay well. Festivals bring in the chance to play alongside bigger bands, receive music promotion and also collect an audience which wouldn’t be possible at a gig. All of these lead to different income sources also.
You can easily start to collect copyright royalties for performing. If you’re signed up to PRS and perform a song that you’ve written that is PRS registered, they will pay you for this performance. Every venue has a PRS licence (well they should!) to cover the costs of paying out these royalties, so make sure you do your research and take advantage of this. Every little penny counts so don’t be afraid to ask your promotor, booking agent or the people at the venue itself.
Tying in nicely to live shows is merchandise. f people are at your live shows, they’re going to be fans of your music and this means they’re proud to say they listen to your music, so surely, they’d be proud to wear your merch, right? Wrong! They won’t be proud to wear a poorly designed, cheaply made t-shirt with just your band name plastered across their chest.
Be creative with your merch designs. Create a design that not only represents you as an artist but is a design that people would wear even if they didn’t know your music. At the end of the day, merchandise is something that can be very profitable so don’t cheap out on it, perhaps hire a graphic designer to jump on board or buy more expensive t-shirts than you’ve done in the past. If you make something that is visually pleasing, good quality and overall a strong product, you can end up charging more and people will still happily invest.
4. YOUTUBE REVENUE
Years ago, artists who wanted to get discovered would have to send off their demo tapes to the labels and then sit and hope they get signed. In today’s digital age, you can use so many more innovative ways to get your music out there, allowing you to make money from loyal fans and listeners globally. One platform that works perfectly for this is YouTube.
YouTube works with artists across the world to generate revenue and help the musician earn more. Artists that put their music through third-party distributors who can submit your music to YouTube and can collect money from ads and YouTube premium. Additionally, distributors who use YouTube’s Content ID system can collect revenue from other YouTube videos such as vloggers who may use your music.
Another way to make money via YouTube is to actually start creating content yourself, which will generate a source of income. You don’t actually make money based on the amount of views you get, you make the money based on people’s engagement with the ad before or during your video, which will obviously be higher if you have more people watching your videos. Therefore, creating high quality content which engages a large audience, will start to bring in money for you. Easy ways to start doing this as a musician is creating tour diaries, vlogging your day to day life as a band or even doing Q&As from questions submitted by your fans on Twitter. Be imaginative with your content and you will be rewarded with a loyal fan base and soon an income.
In the case of collecting Content ID revenue from YouTubers who use your track and have a large subscriber base, we always suggest not collecting the revenue as the promotion from a YouTuber with over 1 million subscribers is a lot more beneficially than the amount of money you’d receive. Getting your name out there as an emerging artist is a lot stronger and will reward you financially in the long term.
Crowdfunding is basically generating a small amount of money from a large amount of people. In the situation of a musician, this means fans donating a small amount of money each, with the end goal to collect a large amount. Your fans want to support you and your musical career, so crowdfunding is a fantastic way to collect money, whilst connecting and giving back to your fans.
So how do you do it? Firstly, you need to establish the platform you want to use to crowdfund. There are many to choose from, but Kickstarter and Patreon are the most established and easiest to use. You set a goal of how much you’d like to achieve and a deadline. If you meet your goal in time, you’ll receive all the money you managed to collect (Kickstarter and Patreon take 5%). However, if you don’t meet your goal in time, every donation made by your fanbase is completely refunded. So, don’t be unrealistic and set a target of £1 million but also don’t be stingy and set a target of £100 so you can make money quick. Prove to your fans that you want to work together to do something and set a challenge that you can achieve together.
One thing to really think about is why should a fan give you money? If someone randomly came up to you on the street and asked for £5,000 to create their next EP, would you give it to them? The answer is most probably no, and your fans will react similarly unless you’re offering them something in return. Be imaginative and work with your fans to see what they want. Perhaps anyone that donates over £10 gets a recorded message sent to them saying thank you. Anyone that sends over £50 gets a song sung especially for them. Anyone that donates over £100 gets a live session performed at their house. It’s easy to set up a crowdfunding page but it’s not easy to get the donations, so prove you’re working for it and that you’re thankful for every penny coming through.
6. SPONSORSHIP/BRAND COLLABORATIONS
You have a large following, you’re selling out gigs and you’re starting to collect a solid amount of money from streams, but where do you look to next to start creating a better income? It’s time to approach sponsors and brands that you want to collaborate with.
Start with your local area. Identify local brands that fit with your style, image and lifestyle. If you’re a surf rock band from Australia, perhaps you introduce yourself to your local surf shop. If you’re a large indie rock band from the UK, maybe you approach a clothing line, such as P&Co who have recently collaborated with The Hunna to release exclusive merchandise.
Call people, email or DM on Instagram offering them something they cannot resist. Whether that is social media posts that will increase their following or wearing their clothing at gigs, which will grow their overall brand. Work with the brand to agree on a deal that works for both parties.
WHAT BRANDS TO APPROACH
Before you approach a company, look into who they already work with. For example, Jägermeister and Dr Martens work exclusive with rock bands so if you’re a pop duo, don’t embarrass yourself by contacting them. Similarly, find a brand that is at an equivalent level to yourself. If you’re only just reaching the 5,000 stream mark and you have less than 3,000 Facebook likes, then the chances of Coca Cola giving you a $1 million brand partnership deal is very slim!
Writing a pitch to a potential sponsor is similar to pitching to blogs, radio stations and Spotify playlists, you need to sell yourself. Use parts of your current press release, bio, social media and Spotify statistics to persuade them you’re worth investing in.
7. CREATE VALUE
Music sales isn’t the problem for independent artists, it’s obscurity. No one really knows or currently cares about who you are so won’t pay for your music. Instead, treat your music as a marketing tool, rather than a form of income. If your entire business model for your music is to sell albums, your model is old-fashioned and unsuccessful. Instead, make your music available to everyone and then you can focus on creating value.
Think about the long term. If you charge people for music that they’ve never heard, it won’t get bought but if you create a dedicated fan base, giving them as much music as you can, your product will soon be in demand, meaning you can start thinking about sales. If you make something valuable enough, people will pay for it and this works exactly the same with your music.
WHO TO TAKE INSPIRATION FROM
An example many can understand is YouTube and the business model of a YouTuber. YouTuber Alfie Deyes creates daily vlogs on his YouTube channel. His vlogs are completely free to the viewer; therefore, his product is given away at no cost to the consumer. However, Alfie has created such a large fan base of over 4 million subscribers, that he has started selling products to them that are now highly in demand. Because his fanbase are so loyal and dedicated to his free content, they buy his merch, they pay to come to meet and greets and even purchase his many books. This is proof that giving out free content creates a fanbase, which creates a strong income in the long term. This theory is relevant to the music industry and should definitely be put into practice.
The money is in the attention, so secure the attention and you can monetize and make money from whatever you wish.
Securing a solid income as an independent artist is easier than ever, with free platforms allowing you to grow your fan base, monetize and sell products in a way that was never before possible. In this digital era, the money is in the attention that you can secure, so take advantage of every one of these 7 things stated above and you will bring start bringing in money immediately.
Most of the career advice for the Music Industry is dated or is generic advice which doesn’t apply to the Music Industry. This guide well give you the best chance of landing a job in the Music Industry.
Recently Burstimo began advertising for new roles, where I had to assess every single CV which was submitted, and this allowed me to spot recurring mistakes which people were making, even from those with Music Business University degrees were not offering what the music industry is looking for.
Do you really want a job in the music industry?
The most frequent line I see in cover letters and interviews is applicants stating their desire to work in the “Music Industry” and this may come as a shock to you, but the Music Industry as you know it doesn’t exist. When you say the words “Music Industry” what comes in to your head?
Is it the life of hanging around famous people, attending parties, music industry events, backstage passes at festivals, prestigious award ceremonies?
In fact, working in the Music Industry involves mostly sitting at your computer sending emails to people just like you 12 hours per day and it doesn’t stop on weekends.
How the Music Industry fits together
The Music Industry is very much spread out, it’s not one big symbiotic industry, it is very compartmentalised with areas such as:
Major Labels (which mainly involves licensing catalogue music)
And all of these aspects never cross one another. You’ll very rarely find yourself conversing with a music industry lawyer if your expertise lies in Music PR for example.
I wanted to make this clear because we see so many applications from people who have “Music Industry” experience, however the skills don’t translate, you won’t land your dream job working in Music Sync if your experience is in promoting festivals. It is the required skillset you must focus on rather than your experience being from the same industry. If you want a job in Music Sync for example, you are more likely to land a job by having a strong sales background. The ability to sell music and license it out is far more valuable than understanding the industry and a knowledge of music from 1950s – present.
Why Working in Music is so Awesome
Now I’ve began to paint a picture of how the music industry really fits together (or doesn’t) lets cover the benefits of working in the music industry. Working with music is exciting, there is no other product like it, music has the power to change people’s mood, opinions or even help them through a difficult time in their life. Working with tracks which you just can’t stop listening to, and your day is dedicated to making the artist as successful as possible whichever your role is one of the most rewarding aspects you could ever hope for in a job.
The day to dayactivity of a job in the music industry is usually so varied and thrilling compared to any other industry. The industry has had to adapt to some major overhauls which means things are moving faster than ever and changed so dramatically that it has left a gaping hole filled with opportunities for people with new skills and ideas to jump in to.
Do I need Music Industry experience?
Not necessarily, needing music industry experience to land a job is one of the biggest misconceptions. Usually this is sold to you by Universities with the intentions to sell you their course or companies who insist you need to intern in order to progress your career, when in reality they are just looking for someone to do the tasks no one else wants to do.
In fact, you are more likely to land a job in the marketing department at Universal music by having a background with various digital marketing agencies or large companies than you would by specialising in music marketing.
My first realisation of this was when I met the Head of Marketing at BMG, who actually previously worked as a Marketing Executive as Unilever before taking the job at BMG. Once again, this person had transferrable skills which could be applied to the music industry, bringing new expertise in to the company.
How much does the music industry pay?
It’s widely known that the music industry isn’t generating a huge amount of revenue like it used to, which has taken a hit on the smaller companies, so if you’re looking to earn huge amounts of money then the music industry really isn’t one for you. And entry-level job in the music industry is likely to pay £16k – £18k, and there’s a high likelihood you will have to live in an expensive city such as London, New York or Los Angeles.
The highest paid recorded salary at Sony Music London was Legal Counsel at £64,000 which required a huge amount of expertise and education. To give you perspective, a Legal Counsel at Barclays bank will earn up to £132,000 per year.
This gives you an idea of the salaries available within the industry, and how similar skillsets will receive a higher salary in other industries, so you’re really doing this for the love of music!
Should you go to University for a career in the Music Industry?
It’s not just the music industry which is instigating this question, with University tuition fees dramatically increasing, potential undergraduates are now considering their options and wondering if gaining experience through work is the best option and this is especially the case in the Music Industry as we’ve seen the potential low salaries may never see you pay off your entire student loan.
There are several music business and music industry courses around, but we really wouldn’t recommend them because in your 3 years of studying you are merely going to get an introduction to every aspect of the industry, however very few job roles require you to have knowledge of the entire industry.
To succeed in the music industry you need to have a specialism, something that you are an expert at, have a willingness to learn and are able to instantly add-value to the company you are applying to join.
Trying to sell an employer on your Social Media skills because it was a module covered during the first half of your 2nd year at university just isn’t going to cut it, especially over applicants who have proven they know how to build a social media following, whether it is in music, travel or food, the skills will always be transferrable.
Of course, there are exceptions to this rule, such as going to University to study Law and Accountancy would still be beneficial as these topics require a full 3 years to learn.
First steps to getting in to the Music Industry
Instead of spending 3 years at University and leaving with eye-watering amounts of debt, the best way in to the music industry is to simply start working in the music industry. The barriers to entry are perceivably high, but that’s only because there’s so much competition for so few jobs at major labels, and smaller companies don’t employ many people, but the barriers to working in the music industry are incredibly low.
If you really want to follow your passion for music, find an artist or band who needs help with their music, whether it’s management, marketing, licensing or royalties, there will be so many things that an artist will need help with.
You can usually find a band’s email address on the ‘about’ section of their Facebook or Youtube channel.
Find an unknown artist who you really like and reach out to them saying how much of a fan of their music you are and if they’d need any help in certain areas. There aren’t many artists who’d turn down free assistance.
Here you can really begin to learn and execute as you go, slowly building your experience and reputation in the industry. After you’ve proven to get results, you now have a case-study to take with you in to job interviews proving that you have a skillset and track record. At this stage you may even decide not to apply for jobs and elect to go freelance which is a perfectly reasonable route too.
How to apply for Music Industry jobs
Mistakes you probably don’t know you’re making
Expressing your desire to work in the music industry
There’s nothing more of a turn off for employers than stating in your cover letter your desire to work in the music industry. Your knowledge of music, the industry and love for the industry only makes up 5% of your job, the rest of your job is based on tasks which are not exclusive to the music industry, you could be working for any company, so employers are looking for people to have a passion for the work that needs to be done because the novelty of working in music will wear off in a matter of weeks.
Listing irrelevant jobs on your CV
This is probably the most frequent mistake we see in applications. On your CV employers are only interested in previous roles which are relevant to the job. If you are applying for a Digital Marketing role, then your previous customer service and retail roles only muddy your applications and take the emphasis away from the key points on your CV. If you don’t feel you have the relevant experience to fit the role, then list your hobbies and voluntary work which could be relevant.
Phoning them up to show you’re keen
I don’t know where this tip came from, but it appears to be something we get told to do by our parents and career advisors who say “call them up to have a talk about the position, and then it shows them that you’re a decent person and will be on your radar”. However, in 2019 we have so much more information available to help profile someone. Perhaps you have a blog or Linkedin profile, if one person is constantly sharing articles about the industry or even write their own content, that’s going to give you a far bigger advantage. There is nothing worse than receiving a call from someone who’d like more details about the job, but you haven’t seen their CV yet and judging by the other applications there’s only a 5% chance you’ll interview this person anyway.
What Should be on your CV
The key to writing the perfect CV is to keep it clear and easy to understand. In smaller companies the person whose job it is to review applications probably doesn’t want to be doing that task and has been asked to do it as a one-off. Not only this, because of the nature of job sites people can apply for jobs at a click of a button, which means there are floods of garbage CV’s filling up their inbox. This means the attention given to each CV is literally no longer than 5 seconds, so you don’t have time to tell your full story.
Your CV should only contain 2-3 key points which would be attractive to an employer. If you are applying for a creative role, then the employer will be more interested in your portfolio than your CV.
Be sure that the points are easy to read and are the first thing the employer will see. You can do this using bullet points in your cover letter, or have them as a summary at the top of your CV.
If you feel you don’t necessarily have the key points on your CV, you should take a step back, and spend a month learning the key requirements for the job. There are so many online resources where you can learn skills such as Youtube, Udemy and Cousera.
In my personal opinion, I would rather hire someone who has shown the initiative to go out and learn something new on their own, with no guidance from a university. This shows that if I need them to go and learn another new skill they have the ability to do it. It also demonstrates a desire to work in that industry rather than feeling obliged to complete a course because they’ve already paid for it.
Best Places to find a job
There many music-specific job sites available, here are our top 5 places to find jobs in the music industry.
Music Week don’t usually post many jobs, but the jobs that do go live tend to be from the best companies in the industry, where you’re likely to see a job posting from Sony, Universal, Warner and more.
Are the recruitment company who appear to represent most of the major labels for their marketing roles and often some other. They do create a further barrier to getting your CV considered as you have to pass their filtering process too in order to be shortlisted.
Linkedin is becoming an incredible tool for job searching, posting exclusive jobs as a direct feed from the companies themselves. Applying via your Linkedin profile can give you a head start, especially if you have maintained your profile and consistently demonstrated your passion for the jobs you are applying for.
Glassdoor are the newcomers to the online jobs board scene, which can give you a new level of detail to the jobs available, including estimated salaries and reviews from past employees on what it’s like to work at the company.
How to reach out cold to a company
Companies often get calls from speculative applicants hoping that they happen to have a position available. The chances of you calling up and there happens to be a position is very rare, especially in smaller companies.
Most people make the mistake of taking the approach of speculatively contacting companies with the approach of “do you have something for me?” ie you’re asking for them to give you a job. You should really be taking the approach of “Can I do something for you?”. If you’ve defined your skillset and know you can add-value to a company, make them an offer to apply your skillset and help them for a couple of weeks, not only are they more likely to take your application seriously, you will now be on their radar to secure a full-time job. You could be given 2 weeks to prove that you are somebody worth taking on and land your first job in the music industry.
Choose your Specialism
In order to really succeed in the music industry, you need to have a specialism, having music industry experience just isn’t enough. Choose one specific area of the industry you’d like to focus on and create a route-map to get there, and it doesn’t necessarily have to include the music industry from the very beginning, you could learn your skills at a digital marketing agency and have the music industry as your final destination.
Choosing the Music Industry first and your role second is a recipe for disaster.
Necessary cookies are absolutely essential for the website to function properly. This category only includes cookies that ensures basic functionalities and security features of the website. These cookies do not store any personal information.
Any cookies that may not be particularly necessary for the website to function and is used specifically to collect user personal data via analytics, ads, other embedded contents are termed as non-necessary cookies. It is mandatory to procure user consent prior to running these cookies on your website.