This is probably one of the most common questions I get asked when I talk about my website. It turns out there is not just one answer, which is definitely a good thing.
There are many different ways artists can get paid today. The most common ones are to sell their CD’s, sell their merchandise, and sell shows. But especially with the internet’s explosion, there are more ways to make money than ever. I will get to these in a minute.
First of all, selling CD’s, merch, and shows sounds easy enough, but it all requires effective promotion. This promotion can be an investment in itself. Buying magazine or radio ad space can get pretty expensive, and there’s no guarantees. Also, online promotion is pretty ineffective at allowing you to reach new people everyday. You are almost limited to the people you know.
Promotion is the key to how artists earn money, but right now the promotion available sucks! (unless you sign to a label, spend millions on billboards and tv, and end up a slave to the label for the next 10 years trying to pay everything back, while they keep your rights)
As an artist myself, I designed my website (Beat-Play – in beta this spring) to solve this problem. We utilize a social network system, similar to Twitter, but for music. You will follow others that you share a taste in music with..like friends or favorite bands..and any music that gets saved into a playlist by those people automatically gets sent to your radio player.
You press play, and the music your friends liked enough to save, comes to you. If you like it, you save it too, and it gets sent to anybody following you. It’s a ridiculously viral way to spread the good music. It is an automated word-of-mouth…and best of all, it’s free promotion and distribution!
With this promotion it becomes infinitely easier for people to find your music, thus easier for them to buy. But with this system, CD sales, merch and shows aren’t the only revenue streams available.
With this social network, the more people that listen to your music, share your music, view your profile, videos, and live events, the more money you can make from advertising revenues. In fact, if you opted to give your music away for free, you could avoid people bypassing your payment page for a torrent, and you can actually track all of the fans you get.
This, with a good ad model that is unobtrusive, but effective, and that gives artists 95% of the revenues generated at each level, is enough for artist to gain a good steady income, potentially for something as simple as Youtube views!
So let’s talk about other revenues possible for artists. Along the same lines of the social network, come the opportunities for live streaming concert ticket sales, regular ticket sales, increased booking of shows, paid video music lessons, blogs, musician competitions and battles for money prizes, auctioning off of samples, sound effects, instrumentals, lyrics, sheet music, rights, ect, and even purchasing and selling of instruments and gear, among many other things.
Add this to advertising revenue for all pages with an artist’s content, including videos, music, blogs, merch, fan groups, and anything else, merchandise sales, CD sales, and shows, and the full time independent artist may be more prevalent than ever would have been expected.
The most important thing to remember in order for this to become a reality, is that independent artists need to organize together as a whole, and support one website. The reason for one is simple. Every band or artist has their followers, but right now they’re all spread out on different websites, and not all of them transfer over. If there was one site, the cross pollination of fans alone would be enough to create a huge boost in artist’s views and promotion.
Add all of the revenue streams I’ve been talking about to that single, strong community of indie artists, and you’re looking at a stable, independent industry, run efficiently, and very cost-effectively. And best of all, it’s free to join and use, and costs nothing up front, not even risk.
The question of how artists can make money is a rarely answered one today, mostly for lack of good answers, but with a good tool, and the power of the internet to connect people, the answers to this question could go on as long as an artist’s creative imagination.
The picture is starting to change, and the future is really looking up. Didn’t even realize? Now you do…cheer up!
Written by: Dante Cullari Founder & President Beat-Play, LLC