Video Game Sound Design
The video game industry is by far one of the most profitable entertainment industries on the planet.
As technology around video games becomes more and more sophisticated and more sales are being made, video game production companies frequently have a healthy budget to throw at the experience. And yes, this means music. If you are a gamer yourself as well as a musician, it can be a really unique and satisfying way to earn money by creating inviting soundscapes for video games.
Crush Spotify With Playlists
A couple years back I interviewed Austin Kramer, head of electronic music programming at Spotify.
His mission at Spotify is to make sure good music gets heard, regardless of the size of the artist. Regardless of the number of Facebook fans they have. Regardless of how many shows theyve played.
How? By putting good music on the right playlists.
Spotify has made this simple with their new Spotify for Artists program. You can manage your profile, and submit your songs to playlists for review.
Dont just aim for the big playlists either. There are plenty of niche Spotify playlists that have thousands of committed fans. You might not gain a million new followers from em, but youll make progress.
Collect Royalties From Streams
We begin here as this is one of the most common revenue streams associated with indie musicians at the moment.
Streaming services such as Spotify or Apple Music can provide a source of income to musicians.
It does take a substantial amount of streams to generate a decent payday.Getting your music playlisted on Spotify is a great way to get more out of these streaming services and give your music career a boost.
Build Relationships With Real People In The Music Industry
Gigging allows you to meet new people as well. Succeeding in the music industry is largely about building relationships with people and working with them live gigs are often where you might find these people.
If youre starting off, perhaps find some smaller gigs andOpen Mic nights before embarking on larger gigs.
Once youve got more of a fan base, promoters will want to book you up to support a bigger band. This allows you to play your brilliant songs and hopefully win over the fans of the headline band!
More on how to get gigs here.
Does This Really Work To Grow A Fanbase
If youre anything like most musicians, you might be saying
No way, brah. This cant work. Nobody wants more email.
Except that it does work.
Nobody wants more crappy email.
But everybody wants more awesomeness in their inbox!
If you take a bit of time and care to do it right, youll be amazed at the response.
I regularly receive emails from my fans and customers like this one:
Just in case its not clear from the context, I sent a sales email out to my list with an opportunity for fans to buy a compilation
And people wrote back to thank me for the sales email!
Heres another one:
Same thing this was a last-minute reminder email that a special offer was closing down
And people replied to the email to thank me for putting a smile on their face.
If someone had told me when I first started out that something like this was even possible, Id have called them crazy.
But its more than possible.
Its predictable and repeatable
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Learn From Others Find A Mentor
If you can, find out how currently successful artists got their start. You can copy or use some of their methods at the very least. At best, you can find out from them how they achieved the success they enjoy today and ask them to mentor you. In other words, you want to know how to do something, ask the man/woman whos doing it right now. It is almost impossible to learn the ropes of the music industry without someone teaching you how to tie a knot. For example, just imagine Justin Bieber without Chris Brown or Kayne West without Jay-Z. Each of these artists only became ultra successful after they obtained a mentor who already knew the industry.
Work With Other Musicians
Leading on from the previous point, its so important to have good relationships with other musicians if you want to make it in the music industry.
With musicians, its great to jam out together, you might also learn something new from them whilst you play, improving your skills as a musician.
Its important to note that the musicians are always the core of the music industry so make sure to be friends with as many as you can. Note that if you get a bad name for yourself though, youll struggle to develop your career word spreads in music communities !
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Making It On Your Own
Nowadays, none of that is necessary.
Yes, a music business plan is helpful and can still be worth doing, but you dont need the big label contract with hundreds of hidden clauses. You dont need to prove yourself to key investors. And while it helps to work with different people, you can do it all by yourself if you want.
Obviously lavish marketing budgets and traditional forms of advertising are still widely used, but theyre not essential anymore. You can build an audience on the web with little to no monetary investment.
What this essentially means is that todays artist, should they choose to take the independent path, has a lot more freedom. They can make the music they want to make and play the shows that they want to play.
But the modern music industry is not all sunshine and rainbows. Its still a cutthroat business, and its still hard to navigate, let alone make it as a successful artist. One cause for complaint is the decline in music sales, and the minuscule royalty payments from services like Apple Music and Spotify.
Its all good and well to say that music sales will never die because DJs still need to buy music or because your granddad is still alive.
But today, most people stream, and its actually a good thing overall.
Dont believe me? According to the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry, the global trade revenue for music sales in 2019 was $20.2 billion. In 2005, this figure was $20.7 billion. So why is the change so small?
Best Solution To Make Money
So whats the best solution to making money in todays music industry?
Well, oddly enough, complying with YouTubes, Spotifys, SoundClouds terms and conditions is a good thing to do, because by using those massively popular services, you, the music artist, will gain access to an incredibly wide audience were talking over 1 billion registered YouTube users, almost 100 million Spotify Premium users, and about a half-billion SoundCloud users who are actively looking for their next big hit.
Another thing that might make the difference here is that those streaming services wont cost you nearly as much in terms of your budget dedicated to self-promotion and general marketing as standard publishing houses require.
This also means artists get to keep a lot more incoming sales money than their colleagues selling their content via music publishers, but the difficulty in this benefit is that it takes a lot of time for an artist to get to that comfortable stage. Thats why they reach out to music publishers that are there to kickstart their careers and enable them to go far and beyond with their music.
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Perform Covers Live At Weddings And Functions
Performing in a covers act for weddings and parties is still one of the most reliable sources of paid gigs around.
It’s a huge industry and one you shouldn’t ignore. You could be a dep performer that jumps in and plays for a number of bands, picking up some cash on the weekends by playing live music. You could even go a step further and create your own wedding act and pick up your own gigs.
Get Featured In Magazines
Smaller community magazines are often the best to send your music to when youre starting out.
Magazines like NME are great, but youll struggle to successfully pitch your music to them without a big team behind you.
Instead, approach local magazines they love to feature upcoming music thats surrounded by a bit of hype. Some of these smaller publications can actually have some significant reach.
A magazine specifically dedicated to music is often the best though for musicians. The people who read these types of publications are often more likely to be music fans, so they would potentially be much more inclined to check out your musical project.
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Four Modern Ways To Make Money
One of the best things about living in the internet age is that none of the above income channels are necessary.
You dont need to play live if you dont want to. You dont need to worry about publishing and licensing.
You dont need to sell merchandise.
And you certainly dont need to sell music.
Youd be stupid to ignore these traditional methods just because there are other options. Touring and playing shows is still regarded as one of the most lucrative paths.
But in addition to touring and playing shows, you can do other things that will help contribute to your overall income.
I wont cover all the ways you can make money because the possibilities are endless. What I will do is offer a few tried and trusted ways that arent traditional whatsoever.
Besides the fact that you can get paid for a project before you even put it out there, crowdfunding is an awesome way to build a passionate community of supporters for your music. My most active fans started as kickstarter backers. Levi Whalen
Traditionally, making an album or working on a big project meant you either had to get outside funding or take a massive risk by putting your own money into a project and hope to get it back through sales.
But if you want this on an ongoing basis, maybe you should think about a
Performer Leverage Visual Platforms
Part of the reason Madeon blew up was because of his viral launchpad videos.
JNTHN STEIN is known for how adept he is at using the Ableton Push.
Both these artists have benefitted greatly from the use of visual platforms like YouTube, Instagram, and Facebook video.
If youre doing something different than just putting USB sticks into CDJs, then show people. Practice your songwriting and production, yes, but also hone your performance skills.
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Understand What The Top Revenue Streams Are In The Music Business
Touring, Publishing, and Branding.
These top three revenue makers in the music industry encompass a wide range of sub-topics, but its important you understand how you can make money from these three main sources.
Touring: Touring and playing live is self explanatory. Festivals in particular are currently at an all time attendance high. Its about and having the promoters wanting you on stage.
Publishing: Writing and recording original music can ensure you own both your master rights and your performance/mechanical rights, giving you the ability to publish and control your own works.
Branding: Branding requires that your image and likeness your logos, who you are and what you represent are clear and aligned with similar products that aggrandize your musical mission.
I highly recommend reading This Business of Music, which is currently in its tenth edition, as a reference guide to your business future.
Why You Need To Learn The Business Side Of The Music Industry
Ok, so let’s look at why you need to learn the business side of things. Isn’t having talent and making good music enough to do well? Well no, not really.
While it used to be the case that you could be a talented musician and have the record labels take care of everything else, these days it doesn’t work like that. Because of the changing shape of the music industry, record labels want to know you are a proven artist before they even consider signing you. That means you will have to already have a fan base, will need to have some songs under your belt, and will have to prove you can generate an income from your music. As the record label won’t help you do any of these things, it falls down to you to make them happen.
Doing well in the music industry requires much more than just recording a good few songs and putting them into shops. Creating a good quality product is only half of the battle, the other half is the promotion. If you make the mistake of putting all your time and money into recording your music and getting it into shops, you’ll soon find that you’ll make very few sales if any at all.
Promoting your music is the process of raising awareness of your product, and making people want to buy it. If you don’t put an equal amount of time and effort into this side of things , you probably won’t get the kind of results you were hoping for.
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Busking & Street Performances
Have you ever tried busking before?
It’s a totally unique experience and if you haven’t tried it before, I totally recommend it! You can even let your fans know where you are going to be and have them turn up to witness your street performances. Yes, it’s true that fewer and fewer people are carrying physical cash and coins around with them these days. However, contactless payments and tipping for buskers are on the rise and could be worth looking into as a way of getting money for your music performances.
What Does It Take To Make It In The Music Industry
What would you recommend to learn how to survive in the music industry as an artist? A second job, haha!
I’ll never forget what my uncle told me when I broke the news to my family that I would be abandoning my English degree to study music instead:
“No one will support you in the music industry until you make it.”
So start by developing iron will, a thick skin, and the world’s greatest listening skills. These are tools required by the music industry, and life in general.
From there, in my experience, you can rocket past 70% of the people in the music industry if you learn and understand the copyright laws of your country and the United States. If you want a career in any back-office part of the industry like management, you’d better be damn sure you know how to protect your intellectual property and your artists. If you’re an artist, you should be aware of how to protect yourself. All You Need to Know About the Music Business by Donald Passman isn’t everything you need to know, but it’s a tremendous start when you’re beginning your journey.
Once you’ve got working music industry experience and legal knowledge, along with sufficient connections, your next steps involve uncovering opportunity. This is the longest, hardest climb and you’ll be doing it your entire career.
Oh and while we’re at it — take risks. The earlier the better.
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A Little Help From Your Friends
One more thing you have to have great friends in the music industry! Which means you have to be someone people enjoy working with and being around.
Want more music career advice? Dont just read it watch the videos on Bobby Borgs YouTube channel.
Bobby Borg is the author of Music Marketing For The DIY Musician , Business Basics For Musicians , and The Five Star Music Makeover . Get these books at any fine online store in physical or digital format. Learn more at www.bobbyborg.com.
Artists’ And Performers’ Agent
Agents book performers’ live appearances at events such as concerts or festivals. They also arrange things like commercials or sponsorships. Agents usually earn a percentage of what a concert or other appearance brings in. But because they aren’t usually involved in recording projects, they don’t get a share of music sales.
You don’t need a degree to be a music agent, but completing a business, marketing, or event planning program is a good idea. As with other music-business careers, knowing the intricacies of today’s music industry can help you make connections.
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The Music Industry In An Age Of Digital Distribution
In 1999 the global recorded music industry had experienced a period of growth that had lasted for almost a quarter of a century. Approximately one billion records were sold worldwide in 1974, and by the end of the century, the number of records sold was more than three times as high. At the end of the nineties, spirits among record label executives were high and few music industry executives at this time expected that a team of teenage Internet hackers, led by Shawn Fanning would ignite the turbulent process that eventually would undermine the foundations of the industry.
Shawn Fanning created and launched a file sharing service called Napster that allowed users to download and share music without compensating the recognized rights holders. Napster was fairly quickly sued by the music industry establishment and was eventually forced to shut down the service. However, a string of other, increasingly sophisticated services immediately followed suit. Even though the traditional music industry used very aggressive methods, both legal and technical, to stop the explosion of online-piracy services such as Napster, Kazaa, Limewire, Grokster, DC++, and The Pirate Bay, it was to no avail. As soon as one file sharing service was brought to justice and required to cease its operations, new services emerged and took its place. By the end of 2013, the sales of physically distributed recorded music measured in unit sales, were back at the same relatively low levels of the early 1970s.