A lot of the bands I talk to on a day to day basis struggle initially with generating money from their music. We are talking some starting funds that would allow them to invest further in their passion.
Ideally, you don’t want to have to rely on a job, your savings or your parents to fund your band. You want it to fund itself, so here are five basic methods of generating money from day one.
Distribute A Single
Seems obvious but you’d be surprised how many bands hold off on this for one reason or another. Don’t be afraid to throw your first single up on iTunes and Spotify, it’s cheap to do and most distributors let you keep 100% of the royalties.
If it sells 50 copies great, 100 fantastic! I’ve seen bands first releases even get added to major playlists that generate thousands of streams on Spotify.
All the royalties generated from this can then contribute to funding your next single/EP.
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Start Playing Gigs
Gigs can become the core revenue stream to your band, you just have to be willing to put the effort in.
Take an evening to research and list every pub/club/small venue in your hometown (and surrounding area) that puts on live music. Then spend another evening contacting them all to see if you can play. A lot will say no, but if you can secure five to ten gigs in a 4-6 week period then you’ve nailed it.
Don’t worry too much about playing for free at this stage either, it’s all about your development, plus you can claim on average £5 per performance from your publishing (we’ll cover that later). Any upfront fee you get is just a bonus!
Keep repeating the process, and soon it all starts to add up.
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Get Some Broadcasts
I wish there was a sure-fire method of getting your music broadcast, but unfortunately, there isn’t. However, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be trying from day one.
Again, this requires some research on your part, to create a list of potential stations and platforms that suit your genre, and note down if they have a preferred contact method, do they want an email, or is there an actual submission process?
Once you have the list together start working through it. Once again the money will come through in royalties on the publishing / master side.
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Sell Some Merch
Admittedly this one does need some initial investment, but if you get it right it’s worth its weight in gold.
At this stage, you don’t want to go crazy, do small runs of items you know will work. T-shirts are obvious, but it’s worth considering one, maybe two, cheaper options as well. Badges, wristbands, and plectrums always go down well, but you want items that you can create cheaply and sell for around a pound each, so you can shift a lot of them! These are great if you are playing live shows.
If you are selling primarily online, then maybe think about offering items like tote bags and posters to go along with the t-shirts. Offer them to buy individually but also create a bundle to incentivise the sale.
This is all about knowing your audience, set a budget to spend and create merch you know your audience will want to buy.
Get Your Master / Publishing Rights Sorted
If you own your recordings, and if you wrote your songs then you can easily start generating royalties.
On the master recording side, the owner of the recording and anyone who performed on the recording is owed royalties every time that recording is broadcast, either on the radio, television or multiple other platforms.
If you wrote the music or the lyrics then you are owed performance or broadcast royalties for each time it is performed live, played on the radio or television.
You are also owed a mechanical royalty for each time your song is reproduced, for example, for every sale of your song on iTunes.
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There you have it, five simple ways to get the money ball rolling for your band. It’s not the end goal but if you can get going on even a couple of these then the money will begin to trickle in, and hopefully take the pressure off those bank accounts.