Let’s get real for a minute. You make music, right? You want to earn money, right? Welcome to the world of business; a topic that most artists tend to run away from, or do they? There seems to be this serious misconception, that if a person is creative and enjoys the arts and music then they cannot possibly have any business acumen. Not only is this a whole lot of nonsense, it drives artists into a box, that they never wanted to be in, in the first place, and the knock on effect is that if you already feel defeated, then there’s no reason to try in the first place right?
It’s time to kick that box to the curb, stand tall and proud about your creation…and meet “making music” with “making money”
So, in this blog we’re taking a look at how to make money from art and creativity, with simple do it yourself options that won’t break the bank, and will help to market and sell your product. Let’s look at it this way. The best sales and marketing people are those that believe in the product, and present it in its best light. So, who better to sell music than the person who put their heart and soul into it?
Back in the olden days, artists were dependent on big companies to record, market and push their product, which obviously came with terms and conditions. These days, with a small budget, some dedicated work and a can do attitude, you can market and sell you music yourself
The reason for getting into that business mode, is to make money. Marketing will help you grow your brand and make money.
Have you noticed how many times the word ‘money’ is mentioned already? Ok, so let’s get started on what you as an artist can do to get a plan together that will hopefully eventually turn into a nice income (money) for you!
So, to get you started, here is the RAPP How to make it in the music industry 101.
In order to effectively manage and market your music as a producer there are a few things that you really need.
1. A Social Media Presence
2. A stoke pile of music
3. A network of musicians you can collaborate with
4. A Publisher/Distributor
5. A budget
6. A marketing plan
1. A Social Media Presence
Okay before you stop reading because “urgh Duh that’s not rocket science, everyone has some sort of social media presence”. Bear with me, and read a little further.
Yes, social media presence will get your music noticed, and a simple internet connection with sufficient data will do the trick, but it’s not just a question of throwing out “hey Ya’ll go buy my new track”.
There are many articles, vlogs and blogs that will tell you what you need to do to create a great social media presence. There are also, some great online courses which are worth checking out. But, assuming a tight budget. Remember that building a social media presence, takes time. So if you haven’t already got any social media then start there, and create your page and profile. Now, let’s take a quick look at three things to keep in mind when doing your social media
Relationship – with the followers. Social media is all about engagement and interaction. So, in a nut shell make sure that what your posting engages with the followers, and ensure you respond to peoples comments and questions…both good and bad
Platform choice – With a million different options of social media platforms, it would be a full time job to manage all of them. So, simply make your choice, based on the one your audience uses most
Quality – You’ve spent all this time, creating rehearsing recording mixing, mastering, listening, critiquing, listening again, and probably debating if your music is ready for release…so, match that with the quality of content you use in your social media posts. This does not have to be expensive, and if the budget is tight, there are some great free platforms, that offer templates you can use that look great.
For a great website, try www.wix.com. This platform offers a variety of templates, and a drag and drop workspace, that can have you up and running with a website in no time.
IMORTANT TIP – Have your content prepared beforehand. Have your biography, about section and some high quality pics ready, to help you create your own unique site.
For your graphic promotional tools such as posters and album cover, Instagram posts and so on, try the following apps which offer free to use templates that create great looking content with the same drag and drop action. Instant satisfaction
www.canva.com. Offers unlimited free downloads if you use the free content options
www.visme.com – sign up to the free plan and get 5 free downloads a month
www.crello.com - The free plan offers 5 free downloads a month
Consistently and constantly provide content. This is what fans are looking for. Be creative and find unique ways to engage your audience. Make them a part of your studio sessions. Invite them to comment do ‘live stream sessions’. And so on. The possibilities are only limited by your imagination!
IMORTANT TIP - Don’t use content with the water marks still on them. Not only does it look super cheap, it’s technically theft
2. Have enough Product
Before you release any music, you should have enough tracks to be able to follow up on your release with other tracks to keep people interested. Consider having about 15-20 songs, before releasing any of them, so that you can complete a music release plan, and have a plan with extra material for follow up releases, to keep the momentum of your first release going. Go through your material and see which tracks suit which time of the year! Summer Dance tracks aren’t going to really well received in winter, and moody dark tracks not so much in summer.
Another powerful reason behind having extra music is that record labels and agents are typically interested in unreleased material. If you don’t have a stockpile of unreleased or ready to release material, you are immediately flagged as a ‘risk’ investment.
3. Network of Artists
As they say no man is an island, and often the best creative sessions come out of collaboration. But, wanting to collaborate with a world renowned artist is not likely if nobody knows you name. Collaborations outside of your creative comfort zone, may stretch you, but won’t necessarily be good for your brand.
Look for like-minded artist and producers who want to collaborate with you, and share your/ their knowledge and resources. Stay true to yourself and your brand.
IMORTANT TIP – when putting together collaborations, jot down an agreement on paper, so that everyone knows what is expected of them and what they can expect out of the project should it be successful
4. Publisher/ Distributer
There are many well-known distributors out there, CD baby, LANDR, Tune core to name a few. Some offer both physical and digital distribution. Fee’s for these platforms generally cost from +- $10 for a standard single which would get your track onto platforms such as iTunes and Spotify but if you really want to maximize your options, look for a deal that offers publishing as well. Some of the distributors above also offer publishing as well.
This article explains your options perfectly https://sundownsessionsstudio.com/best-digital-music-distribution-companies/
So we’re not reinventing the wheel
Remember that these options don’t necessarily register your songs with the performing rights organisations in your country/territory, so that would be down to you, and weighing up your options is always advisable.
Getting a local label is also an option to explore
If you can get a label interested in offering you an admin publishing deal, then they will register and license your music with Performing Rights Organizations (PROs), Collective Management Organizations (CMOs), and Mechanical Rights Organizations (MROs). You retain full ownership over your songs while the admin publisher collects royalties and licensing fees on your behalf. To pay themselves, the admin publisher will claim a relatively small commission on the money that they collect for you.
Traditional Publishers will attempt getting your music to sync with TV and films, and that will lead to increased awareness and revenue. They do however take a larger portion of the revenue, typically 50%. Remember though that they will have access to networks and connections that you don’t, and 50% of something is much better than 100% of nothing
Content producers for Youtube, Game designers and animators always need music. Another option is to license your songs through music libraries like audiojungle or premium beat as well as apps such as Canva or Crello or even Tik Tok. The way these sites work is that a license fee is paid for them to use your music in their project, part of the money goes to you, and part of it goes to the Music library company. When people hear your music, they can trace it back to you via a projects credits. IMPORTANT TIP: Read the licencing agreement thoroughly so you know how people can utilise your music and for how much. Don’t just click the Agree button
5. The Budget
Any professional business person will offer you this insight: there is a limit on how many times you can ask for freebies. People get tired of it. If you are serious about your production career, then don’t be cheap! There are many ways for you to use free apps to help you create great promotional content. However, there comes a moment when you need services or products that are specialized and must be paid for. Save up and set aside some money to be able to hire or purchase products or services that will strategically benefit your project. Assess what you have the time, skill and capacity to do yourself, and budget for what you need help with. This could be a computer, software, DAW, graphic designer, video content, and photography, copywriting for press releases and promotional material, sample library or hiring in session musicians or a production team. Be realistic, if you don’t have an eye for design, hire someone who does, if you can’t play guitar…hire someone who can..You see where we’re going with this?
Every well run business has a budget. Think. Plan. Implement. Do what you can, and outsource the rest
6. The Marketing: Music Release Plan
So, you’ve created your music, set up your social media and have a distribution and/or publisher. You’re good to go, but how do you use all this content and tools to build some “press” when you’re ready to release your music. You create a music release plan.
What is a release plan I hear you cry?
A release plan is a plan that assists you to market your single before, during and after the release! It’s a schedule planning information about your track using different methods and mediums that lets people know, your track is in progress, your track is complete, it’s dropped and basically where it can be bought. To build momentum and interest around your music, what happens before the release, during the release and after the release should all be included in the plan, using the appropriate tools at the appropriate time, to the appropriate audience
Your music release plan should include, press releases, social media, as well as scheduled interviews and promo opportunities on radio, with influencers and bloggers. Timing is everything here, getting a radio interview while you’re busy in studio is great, but won’t necessarily help you get radio play, and if you’re only able to get one interview to promote your track, then a better time to promote it on air would be once you have a physical copy that people can go out and buy after hearing the interview.
There is a fine line in this plan. Too little advertising and build up, no-one will know, too much and they’ll “tune out”. Do it too soon, and you lose interest in the track, and do it too late, and you’ve missed an opportunity. A timeline is helpful here
Okay, let’s look at the before the release.
At this stage you have the opportunity to utilise social media to get people interested even go back as far as while you’re busy in studio. Photos of you in the studio working with a team, with captions like coming soon, will build peoples interest. Behind the scenes is often popular, so if that’s something you feel comfortable with, then put that in your plan. Remember your social media is about relationship, people want to feel like they are part of the journey. You may want to schedule short interviews, with the producer, engineer or session musicians, or video yourself and your thoughts on how the recording is progressing. Behind the scenes teasers on Facebook, Instagram live or even Tik Tok, can be a great buildup of anticipation, and keep people following the process. This is effective to garner interest in the upcoming release. Keep in mind your strengths, and work to them, if you’re uncomfortable in front of the camera, then opt for something else like a photograph or graphic. Consider a whole pile of ideas. Assess the tools and talents and time you have. Rule out the ones that won’t work and schedule those that do. It may be that you allocate a day to film in studio, and stagger those posts over a couple of weeks
Are you with me?
Before the release
We’ve said before the release, but here we’re talking when the track is done, but before it’s available to purchase. Here you can push to radio and media outlets, send out press releases and the sample media outlets and radio stations with radio edits. What do we mean by a radio edit? A radio edit is a version of the track, that is clean, meaning no explicit lyrics, and is usually around 3minutes 40 in length. Your plan here needs to consider which radio stations and media outlets to send to, and what information should be attached.
With regard to radio stations bear in mind that music compilers at stations receive a lot of artist’s submissions for consideration, and they have policies in place that guide their playlists. Before you fill a stations inbox with your track research the following.
The stations licence – Does the station typically play your style of music? If not, don’t waste your time of theirs. Stations have licence terms to adhere to, and they will stick to that
The music submission policy – If the station has a procedure and standard for music submissions, make sure you follow it. Sending your track in the wrong format, or trying to get play listed by submitting to someone who knows a presenter there, will not only not get you play listed, it will make you look unprofessional.
Ensure all the information about the track is also included, media outlets are typically hubs of busyness and if you’ve left questions unanswered, they may not have time to ask them.
When it comes to other media outlets like magazines, newspapers, influencers and bloggers/vloggers, your research here should be similar to the above. Will your music fit the style they are going for?
Do they offer reviews, or information on local releases?
Rule out the ones that don’t do that and send the information to the person responsible having checked for a submission policy.
Remember that for newspaper and magazines, there are possible reviews, but for an article, you need to come with an interesting angle. This can be done through the press release. We’ll talk about that next
Address you submission to someone: Do your research and find out who the music compiler, or arts and entertainment editor is and address them in your submission. Don’t just assume a forwarded email or batch email will work. Keep your email short and to the point, with an attention grabbing headline, then add links or attachments to further information and your track, and be sure to be clear about the release date, and when radio stations are able to air it. Google drive is a good tool to utilise in this instance, you can upload your content to the drive and send a link.
Consider all possibilities and work your angles.
So, we’ve looked at only sending your music to outlets and stations that play your music. So for example there’s no point submitting your hip hop track to a classical music station. However there are some possibilities to consider. For example, a local station has 500 thousand listeners but the music they play is contemporary. This means it’s unlikely they will playlist your hip hop track. BUT, the same station has a show promoting local music, and you are a local. Then you could submit for an interview on that show to promote your track, and it would fit in the stations scope, as well as get you an audience. Okay, so it won’t get play listed, but you have marketed your track.
Let’s look at another scenario, an online magazines focus is on the environment, they probably won’t be interested in your hip hop track, unless of course it happens to be about the environment. So make sure you assess all angles and consider possibilities
Remember that radio and podcasters, newspapers and really all media outlets, will plan well in advance for their story and news coverage. So, when reaching out to blogs, podcasts and radio try secure coverage for the day of the release. See if you can then schedule multiple interviews the week up of and after the release of your single.
One Last Tip – Do not overlook community stations. They may not have huge listenership, but on the whole they are very supportive of new music, and have often been responsible for breaking artists into the market
A press release is a short attention grabbing communication about an upcoming event or happening. It’s your official statement about your track. Whilst this should be factual and short, the content of the press release, may be the make or break of whether your track release gets time or space. Remember the media is looking for good content, and that’s what gets the ‘limelight’ so if a fireman has rescued a cat from a tree, and your press release is really dull, they may go with the cat story over yours.
Grab the reader’s attention and consider information about the track that may interest people. Maybe you had a famous bassist play on it, maybe you wrote the track to celebrate overcoming something, and maybe you recorded the track in record time. Consider uniqueness of the track, its creative story, and utilise that information in your press release. Keep it honest though. If there isn’t a life changing moment invested in the song, don’t make one up
Biography – a well written biography can be utilised on many different platforms, from your website, to social media through to submission of content. People want to know your story, how did you get into the music, what motivates your music.
EPK – if budget/skill allows consider creating an electronic press kit, which includes all of the above, with some videos, photographs and extra content for people to view
In the weeks that lead up to your release, run ads with teasers of your track. Get active on social media, but follow the ‘rules’. More than 3 posts a day on a platform starts to irritate people. You want people to be interested not put off.
In terms of a social media planning and ideas, checkout https://www.blakebeus.com/ for great content ideas and a free social media plan, that will assist you for a year’s roll out
After the release.
So, you’ve covered all the above, created the publicity and hopefully your hard work had paid off, with some air play, shares likes and sales. What next? The answer…Don’t stop there! With all the momentum created around the release, now is the perfect opportunity to keep that ball rolling, keep up with the social media, and plan for the next track release. Utilise the publicity you have gained to push for gigs (even if they are virtual) and keep your presence out there.
Then, repeat the cycle for the next track release, album release and so forth.
Any questions, why not drop us a message.