If you are a singer or a musician and write your own music, you probably often wonder how to make money as a musician online.
While reading this article, you are possibly also wondering why I wrote a post about making money as a musician, when my site is called theonlinenetrepreneursecret.com. Here is the answer:
Musicians can make money online, as long as they can embrace marketing. Yes, that same sort of thing that every business uses to make profit!
I am going to tell you how I made £3108.76 between 1st March 2016 and 31st March 2017 with my Gothic Metal music project. I only had one home made EP with 6 tracks.
A brief story of how my music project started
I started my project Rhenium in March 2014. I was fed up with looking for reliable musicians to form a band, so I thought to myself: “Why not try and create a ‘one woman music project’?”.
After all, I had always been curious to see whether I would be able to write an entire song, as well as playing and singing all parts myself.
It all started off as something to do for fun, until I came across articles about marketing music online. I decided to put my business hat on and take things to the next level.
If you are a musician, you will probably be familiar with how hard it is to earn money by making music, so even making over 3k in one year, seems like the biggest achievement ever!
Before I go ahead and give you more details on how I made that money, I would like to clarify a few things:
- I am showing you data from 2016 to 2017 because after that, I stopped putting effort into the project, so I want to show you what is possible to achieve when you are dedicated
- I slowly dropped Rhenium, because doing everything myself just became too time consuming. Furthermore, in March 2018 my dog got diagnosed with cancer and that completely killed my spirit (She is fine now by the way!)
- As I mentioned earlier in the article, I made £3108.76 during the first year in which I started taking online marketing seriously. I was promoting a low quality album with only 6 songs in it. Imagine what I could have achieved with consistency and with a full length high quality album!
So, can you really make money online with music?
Yes, you can! However, you cannot expect to find gold overnight, especially if your intention is to release an album and then do nothing about it.
I started Rhenium in 2014 and messed around for over a year. After that, a few Facebook likes and positive comments started coming through. Those gave me the drive to begin looking for a way to reach a wider audience and sell some music!
I discovered the power of online marketing and implemented a few things, which I will reveal at the end of this article.
First, I want to show you some proof of my achievements, otherwise why would you continue reading this? 😉
Here is a screenshot of my Indiegogo campaign, which allowed me to raise money to print physical copies of my EP and create some merch. The campaign was only 1 month long and I raised more than I asked for:
Having a physical CD and merch to sell, also allowed me to make more money on Bandcamp.
Here is a screenshot, showing sales made between 1st March 2016 to 31st March 2017.
Unfortunately, the date picker on Bandcamp makes it hard to select a precise date and make it exactly one year:
I know it is never too late to start something but I really wish I had known of these simple strategies years ago, when I had more time in my hands!
The problem with most music artists is that we still think that things work the way they used to years ago and that only a music label can bring you success.
We also tend to be dreamers and think that great things will happen just like in those movies where the singer gets noticed after performing in a bar located in the middle of nowhere and gets signed to the biggest music label in the world.
The reality is, although incredible success stories happen at times, this won’t be the case for most of us.
Forget about the phrase: “If you build it, they will come”
You wrote some amazing music, you rehearsed the hell out of it, recorded it and released it via all the major music distribution platforms out there.
Well, if you build it, they will come…
No, my friend. Nobody will come if they do not know you exist!
Even the most famous artist out there promote their art. Have you ever seen your favourite band release a new album and keep it secret? No! You would have seen the news online, on Facebook or you would have received a newsletter straight in your inbox!
See? Your number one band market their music. The only difference between them and you are:
- They already have an audience, so it won’t take them the same amount of effort it would take you to promote their new album
- Famous bands will have someone else to deal with marketing for them
Be an entrepreneur
Entrepreneurs are people who take their own initiative to start a new business adventure, for which they will be the ones making decisions and taking risks.
I have heard of many musicians say: “I am a musician, I don’t care about the money. I just want my music to be heard” or “I play music, I don’t work as a salesman”.
Well, do you want your music to be heard? Regardless of the money factor, you will have to somehow let people know that you have released new songs!
How would you feel if you spent lots of time and money to then have your music heard by only two people (one of these being your mother)?
If you do want your music to be heard, then you will have to embrace marketing.
You only need to implement a few strategies, which can even be automated, so that you only do the marketing work once a week!
Embrace the power of online marketing and forget about music labels!
Have you noticed how powerful social media has become? There are so many teenagers out there making money by simply being influencers on Instagram or releasing their own songs on Facebook.
Long gone are the days when you needed to send your tape to someone who had the money and power to make you famous!
The truth is that going with a music label doesn’t always end up well. If you don’t sell, they will drop you!
They have control over you as an artist and you will have to follow their rules. Look at how many bands out there started off with their own style and had to drastically change direction, because their labels wanted them to follow the trends!
Social media gives you the power to reach your perfect faithful audience!
You will make your own decisions and connect with your fans directly. Can you see how beneficial that is?
If you are ready to create your social media accounts to start reaching a wider audience, I would like you to stop there for a second and listen carefully, before you make the same mistakes many artists do. I made some of these mistakes too!
Platforms like Facebook and Twitter are called “social media” for a reason: People are on them to socialise with other people!
They don’t join social media to be bombarded with sales pitches!
So, here are some things you SHOULD and you SHOULD NOT do:
- Constantly ask people to buy your music. There is nothing more annoying than seeing someone posting the same thing over and over again and basically begging their fans to give them money!
- Use your personal account to message people directly and ask them to buy your music
- Get into arguments. It’s good to have an opinion and engage with fans when they leave comments on your post but keep it cool!
- Be inactive – it will kill your account engagement rate
- Show your human side and post photos of your dogs, a place you have travelled to, your other interests and so on
- Record and share videos of yourself telling a story, going to someone else’s gig, etc
- Vary your posts
- Share your opinion and encourage people to engage
Now that you have read the above, you can go ahead and create your social media accounts.
Here is an example of an engaging post done right:
See? No sales pitch. Just being human and having a conversation with my fans.
2,667 people reached, 434 engagements, 38 likes, 79 comments and 1 share. Not bad for a small artist 🙂
There is no need to be everywhere. Being on two or three of them is enough. Try to properly master a few, rather than being average on many.
I personally like Facebook, so here is my guide on how to create a Facebook page. Despite its title, this guide is suitable for anybody wanting to know how to create a page: Can you have a Facebook business page without a personal profile?
Make email marketing a priority
Platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and so on, have their own algorithms.
I am personally more familiar with Facebook and I can confirm that, unfortunately, their algorithms change often and that one day your posts might reach thousands of people but the next day it might only reach 100.
The only way for you to ensure that you will always reach your fans directly, is to “own” the data, aka the email addresses that you would have obtained with your fans’ permission, when they joined your mailing list.
A way to do this is to set up an account with email marketing tools like Mailchimp, which will allow you to collect your fans emails and automate any correspondence.
Here are two things you can do to collect their emails:
- Create a sign up form which your fans can fill in to join your mailing list. Set it up so that new subscribers, receive an automated email with a freebie. Share a post telling your fans to join your mailing list to get this freebie
- Add a dedicated tab to your Facebook page, so that your fans have access to the sign up form at any time
You might be wondering what sort of freebies I was referring to. Look at the screenshot above. I was giving away 3 of my songs for FREE.
It’s not a crazy idea, when you think that you will get an email address in exchange and you can use this to directly promote your future releases.
I sold quite a few albums with this method and collected a lot of email addresses:
This method will pay off in the future. I had 1,893 subscribers I could contact directly to let them know of my new music, offers or anything else related to Rhenium!
Conclusion: Steps to take to sell more music
I cannot get into too much detail on how to market music online in one single post but I hope I gave you an understanding of what the possibilities are and how important online marketing is in order to start selling your music.
I am going to list below some things you should do to get started but it will then be up to you to use your friend Google and see how to implement these steps!
So, here they are:
- Create content to give to your fans. You won’t always have new music but you can record videos of you rehearsing, belting out cover songs, etc. that you can use to engage with your audience
- Choose two or three social media platforms you are comfortable with, create your accounts and be consistent with your presence
- Make use of the analytics tools provided by platforms like Facebook and Pinterest. These will allow you to have an overview of where your followers are from, how old they are, what other things they like and so on. Finding out you have hundreds of followers in London, means that you should perhaps add a London date for your next tour!
- Don’t chase the money. Give before you take. Send freebies to your potential fans, so that you can get them to crave for more!
- Use Facebook ads to target your preferred audience and gain more likes
- Create a website for your music project but make sure you add a blog section and often post articles. This will help you grow your site’s authority and reach people organically
- Use crowdfunding campaigns, even if you do not need the money. You can use platforms like Indiegogo, just to create the “buzz” and get your fans excited. However, do not attempt crowdfunding before even building a following
I hope you have found this article useful. Unfortunately, it is not possible to cover everything in one single post, so please feel free to ask any further questions on how to make money as a musician online. Just leave a comment below or email me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org 🙂