More Ways To Make Money From Music

If you’re just starting out as a musician, you’re probably eager to unleash your talent upon the world and receive the mighty flood of cash that it deserves. However, once that initial surge of enthusiasm dies down, you may begin to realise that promoting your band is an essential part of making a living from music – and it actually takes quite a lot of work…

There are a couple of problems with this. The first is that any time you spend promoting your music is time you could be spending making music, which is what you really want to do. The second is – well, how do I go about promoting my band anyway?

Get Your Gig On

When it comes down to it, very few bands make enough money to live comfortably on it. Even the ones that do survive on their music probably make most of their income through playing gigs, not from album or single sales. So, the first thing you should do to promote yourself (and perhaps earn money) is to play live as much as possible. In this way, you increase your exposure, improve your performance technique and hopefully generate a loyal fanbase (very important).

Marketing Your Music Online

But what about the Internet, you say? Surely the digital age empowers me to reach a wider audience. I can put my music on MySpace where millions of people can see it, and then fame will surely follow!

Well, this is theoretically possible, but many of the success stories you hear about artists making their breakthrough via the Internet are not revealing the whole truth. To reach a wider audience on the Web, you need to have something extra; a catchy video, a PR stunt, some savvy marketing, a unique selling point that people want to talk about and show their friends – something that might go viral.

Now, a lot of ‘Webtists’ actually have all of these angles covered, and a full promotional team working in the background to give them the edge. Just because it’s the Internet doesn’t mean that a full-scale marketing offensive isn’t at work – Andrew Dubber has written an excellent article about this, which is itself a clever marketing ploy, and the downloadable PDF he offers (of which his article is part) is an even cleverer marketing ploy. But it provides real value; his information and observations are good. So, as an up-and-coming band, what can you learn from this?

Monetising Your Music Site

Don’t just sit on MySpace and hope the hits will come – get your own website, and make people want to link to it. Link to your site from MySpace, and from these other Online Music Distribution sites. Once you have a site set up, you can also put AdSense on it and earn money when people click through those ads. Google matches the ads to the content of your site, so they should be relevant to your readers.

You can set up a free AdSense account by clicking through the link below (and I will get a referral bonus). This is just one example of how you can offset your costs online.

Think About How To Create An Angle

Remember, whether on stage or on your website, you must make yourself unique; do something that sets you apart, that makes people want to share you. The OK Go treadmill video is a good example of a simple and cheap idea that went viral. Nico Ramon mentions the idea of blogging your music in this post; this is a good idea, although the benefit of being the first to do this probably rests with Johnathan Coulton, who blogged his challenge of writing and recording a new song every week – and managed to attract 3,000 visitors a day through some canny promotion of his venture.

CelesteH had the idea of commissioning songs on eBay; this was unfortunately deemed a violation of eBay’s TOS, but an interesting angle nonetheless. It’s important also to get your songs out to as many people as possible; don’t worry about people ripping off your tunes, because if they’re really that good then people will inevitably want to listen to your music, and more of it. If you get people coming to your gigs and to your website, then you’re on the right path – but you really have to clearly define something about yourself that sets you apart and makes people take notice.

Optimising Your Band Website

EDIT: The process of creating a website that is easily readable by the search engines is known as search engine optimization, or SEO. If you follow the principles of SEO when implementing your website, you have a much better chance of being ranked in the higher positions of the search results pages, which means more people will find your site.

If you have quality content, then there are a number of things you can do to make sure it ranks well, but this is a complex arena and beyond the scope of this post. If you want to learn about Search Engine Optimization, the best place to start is Aaron Wall’s SEO Book (affiliate link). This is recognised by SEO experts worldwide as being the number one reference book for SEO knowledge, and is regularly updated by Aaron to reflect changes in the industry.


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