career in music
This won’t be one of those articles where you can get tips that will help you to earn extra few hundred bucks…
I’ll share the best tactics that help big companies to lead their market and earn millions of dollars. The same principles and steps business owners have been using for decades are also used by the major players in the music industry. Ther’s no difference if you’re a big brand in a business world or you are an a-list band in the music industry.
Three main things that matter
These three positions are the basis of every successful business or brand (including artists):
- Innovation (product)
If you are really good at these three positions – you’re a winner!
If you suck, then you will never be successful. Yes, you will have some fans and you’ll earn some money, but I want you to show the principles of the big game!
I want you to be successful, not some average artist from a local pub.
Let’s start with this easy 4-step process from marketing Guru Seth Godin
- The first step is to invent a thing worth making, a story worth telling, a contribution worth talking about. (Product)
- The second step is to design and build it in a way that people will actually benefit from and care about. (Product)
- The third one is the one everyone gets all excited about. This is the step where you tell the story to the right people in the right way. (Marketing)
- The last step is so often overlooked: The part where you show up, regularly, consistently and generously, for years and years, to organize and lead and build confidence in the change you seek to make. (Work!)
First step when talking about music
Create something new. Create something different. Create something really good.
The very first thing to be successful in the music business is your music. It’s not only the lyrics, melody or rhythm. Your product (music) is also about sound quality, production, emotions, and feelings. You have to get the best out of you and you have to be unique. You can’t copy, create your own thing, nobody wants another Green Day or another Adele. If you’ll play the same game with the same rules that others play, you’ll get some fans maybe even couples of thousand, but that’s not the real success you’re looking for. You have to change the rules. Show the world something new!
Second step when talking about music
The second step is an addition to the first.
Make your music in a way that people will actually care about it!
What is your music really about? What you want your fans to get? What you want your fans to feel? If you were one of your fans or just a random listener, what you would like to hear and see? Think about that…
Give the most valuable product (music) you can and the audience will start talking about you!
Third step when talking about music
Let’s split the third step into three positions…
Pt.1 Tell your story. Tell your unique story that’s only yours. Your brand is your story and vice verse. If you have created a brilliant song, there is definitely a good story behind that. Tell something interesting and your audience will start talking about it with other people. Remember that you are sending your message to people, not computers.
Pt.2 Tell your story to the right people. Right people is your audience. Find your niche, find people who are listening. Find people who really care about you. People who have the same interests, the same values, the same lifestyle as you have. In music industry listeners are split into music genres and their interests. It’s not set 100% but in general, it’s not a good idea to send your indie-pop songs to hard rock fans. Also, if you represent healthy lifestyle (yoga, veganism, books etc.), your story won’t be thrilling for sex-drugs-rock-n-roll lovers.
Pt.3 Part three is the way how you tell your story, how you send your message to your audience. This is your own unique voice. You can tell different stories in different ways – you can be funny, inspired, warm, spiritual, classic, traditional, vulgar, energetic etc. Your audience will only listen when you’ll speak in “their language”. Also, you can tell your story through different formats and platforms – music, videos, photos, animations, articles, interviews etc. If your audience lives in social media for example Instagram is really popular for them, then you have to show who you are through Instagram stories and photos. If your audience lives in blogs, you communicate in your own style through written articles.
Fourth step when talking about music
When you have your brilliant product (your music), that’s produced, recorded in the best way (the way you want) and it brings value and emotions to your fans. When your product is wrapped in the right paper (right story) and you send it to your target audience using your unique way and voice, then there is one thing left… It’s called Work!
The gap between dreams, goals, plans and reality is action. You have to show up in your best fit in front of your audience regularly and consistently. Release new music regularly, put a valuable and interesting content on social media at least three times a week, communicate with your fans every day, network with other industry players and media whenever possible. Do it and never stop!
If you master these 4 steps then, you’re a winner!
Your first goal – 1000 True fans
(from Kevin Kelly)
A creator, such as an artist, musician, photographer, craftsperson, performer, animator, designer, videomaker, or author – in other words, anyone producing works of art – needs to acquire only 1,000 True Fans to make a living.
That doesn’t mean that you need 1000 average fans, you probably need 10’000 followers but 1000 of them have to be outstanding.(Super Fans)
A True Fan is defined as someone who will purchase anything and everything you produce. They’ll drive 200 miles to see you sing. They’ll buy the super deluxe re-issued hi-res box set of your stuff even though they have the low-res version. They have you sign their copies. They’ll buy the t-shirt, and the mug, and the hat. They can’t wait till you issue your next work, next album or single. They are true fans.
Another way to state this is, you need to convert a thousand of Lesser Fans into a thousand of True Fans. You have to convert fans into Super Fans. One thousand is a feasible number. You could count to 1,000. If you add one fan a day, it would take only three years. True Fanship is doable. Pleasing a True Fan is pleasurable, and invigorating. It rewards the artist to remain true, to focus on the unique aspects of their work, the qualities that True Fans appreciate.
If you have a brilliant music and the right story for the right audience there shouldn’t be any problems to get 1000 true fans. You have to be patient. Yeah, it could take months or years but you will get what you want.
The good thing is that these 1000 true fans’ll be so active that soon you’ll have hundred more by doing nothing.
(Learn more about 1k True Fans strategy on Kevin Kellys’ blog )
The Last part – Where & How You Get Money
I could name this “… Ways to Make Money from Your Music”, but it wouldn’t be correct. If you put your music on YouTube or Spotify, that doesn’t mean that you will get the money. However, you will get money ONLY when you will have thousands of fans. So make sure you read this article from the beginning till the end.
There are two major ways to make money in physical world – live shows & CD sales.
When you play your own gigs, you’re collecting money from the tickets. When you play in the festival, you’re getting your fee. When you sell a CD copy, you’re getting your slice. Also, in both positions – live performance and CD sales – you’re getting royalties – Public Performance Royalties and Mechanical Royalties. There are other royalties involved too if you want to dig deeper read THIS article by TuneCore.
I will explain more about the digital world. There are 4 major points:
Digital Sales – If you own a song and sell it on iTunes, Amazon, Google or your own website and you don’t have any labels involved you’ll keep a big slice of the profit. If you have a record company involved, mostly they’ll keep all of the profit.
Digital Royalties – If you write a song and distribute it to download music services like iTunes, Amazon, or Google, you’ll own a royalty for every unit of your music that’s downloaded.
Streaming – Streaming is the name of the real game today! Spotify, Apple Music, Rhapsody – users can choose songs and play them whenever they want. Songwriters get an average of $0.005 per stream. If you own publishing rights then you’ll get more money. (Fees varies per platform)
Synchronization – If a film or TV studio, production company or someone else wants to use your composition in a TV show, movie, commercial or video game, they’ll need to pay for the synchronization license. Most of all, the license fee (both in and outside of the U.S.) is a one-to-one negotiation usually based on several things like the length of the use, how it’s being used (background or up front), the format and the popularity of the production. Because of all these factors, the fee can range from a few hundred dollars to hundreds of thousands of dollars.
YouTube – We all know it’s common for people to create YouTube videos that use someone else’s music in the background. In slightly more technical terms, what’s happening here is that the song is being synchronized with a moving image, and when this happens, a per use license payment is required. Also, you earn money in the same way on your own YouTube videos too.