There never has been a better time in all of history to be an independent artist, with the advancement in technology, recording music is much cheaper than it used to be.
Home studios are becoming a norm and with most of the consumption being online, distribution is not as difficult as it used to be with one click on your systems, you can have your music on all major streaming services like Spotify and the rest.
But how do indie musicians make money? You may ask, maybe out of curiosity, or you’re one yourself trying to figure that out. Sincerely, there are many ways, but here we’ll look at 5 ways independent musicians can make money off their art.
- Putting a Price on It- But Wait! You might say, nobody buys music again, and yeah you’re kind of right, the sales of Cds have been down for years and streaming seems to supersede digital downloads these days but to say people don’t buy music again is a fallacy. With services like Bandcamp, which is a music purchasing and streaming site it’s very evident that people still pay for music. Fans have paid artists over $20million using Bandcamp in the last 30 days alone.
- Sell Merchandise- This is also a great way to support yourself as an independent artist, selling merch such as T-shirts, hoodies, pens, mugs, or whatever you can think of with your logo or artist name on it. I’ve heard some independent rappers like ILL BILL say he has sold more T-shirts than he has with Cds. Sites like Tee-Spring, Spread Shirt, are making it easier for one to start without an upfront fee and they take care of distribution to any part of the world.
- Streaming- Despite the controversy surrounding the streaming world, it still is a relevant source of income. Streaming services pay three types of royalties, The Mechanical Royalty is paid to songwriters and their publishers (owners of compositions) for the right to reproduce the composition, The Public Performance Royalty is paid for the right to publicly perform the music, the third and probably the most of considerable importance of the overall payout is paid to the owners of the copyright on the recording side through labels and distributors like Distrokid, Cd Baby, etc. To be eligible for all these royalties, your music has to first be on the streaming services and should be registered to a PRO(Performance Rights Organization) like BMI, ASCAP, SESAC, or whatever one your country uses.
- Publishing- Music Publishing is the exploitation of a song’s composition copyright; this is an essential part of an artist’s career and shouldn’t be taken for granted. The Mechanical and Public Performance royalties we talked about earlier are a part of publishing. Publishing is a very complex field and though an artist can do it by his/herself, I would advise that it is better to hire professional help because it’s really a lot of work. Sync Licensing (i.e. a license granted by the holder of the copyright of a particular composition, allowing the licensee to synchronize music with some kind of visual media output) is an aspect of publishing that offers various opportunities to independent artists.
- Touring- Though at this point in time, a lot of concert shows and tours have been put on hold because of the current COVID19 pandemic, but this has been a major way for a lot of independent artists to make money. At this point in time, no one really knows the future of the touring industry, the concept of Virtual Reality performances has been danced around these past years and we’ve seen it used by EDM artists like Galantis and Travis Scott to name a few, so maybe this might be the next norm for artists who knows, but it’s something that should not be ignored if you ask me.
These are just a few ways for independent artists to make money, though depending on one’s creativity and team or industry know-how, there are many more streams of income that can be exploited by independent artists.