Making money from being a musician is HARD. It takes time, effort and ridiculous amounts of patience, but as MTV cribs will no doubt show you, the rewards can be well worth the effort.
I have worked my band “You and What Army” up from nothing into a successful money-making business. But remember – as a band, you have to spend money to make money. And initially, you will be spending a lot. So you will probably need either a hefty savings account or a job behind you if you intend to make this work.
Here you will find tips from my experiences of what to do and what NOT to do when making money!
It all starts here – You have to have a fanbase before you can sell anything to them. Social networking sites like Myspace and Facebook are the best since they have the largest communities. Things like Last.FM are also good, since you have an audience there that is specifically looking for new music!
But work smart, not hard. Only add friends that look like they will enjoy your music – it’s stereotyping, yes, but it works. Look for bands similar to yours and add friends from there to start. But don’t just add them – TALK to them. Put a friendly, quirky message along with your friend request describing what kind of a band you are. Keep it concise! People can’t be bothered to read an essay about something they don’t care about (yet!)
Your first fans will just feel like friends, but it will grow from there.
Okay, so you have your fanbase. The biggest online earner for my band has been merchandise – T-shirts are particularly good. Making money from Band Merch doesn’t have to be difficult – just remember that you should NEVER undersell yourself. Do some research, get some quotes and buy some stock. If you aren’t good with design, find a friend who is, or make a friend on DeviantArt!
Now we come to actually selling the Merch: If you haven’t heard of PayPal, you will need to get to know it – It’s a method of transferring money online. You can quickly put a “Buy Now” button for your merch on your website and advertise it via myspace easily with a simple banner. This is where you finally reap some rewards! If you are struggling to get the money together, a simple Pre-Order button until the product is ready is a good way to go.
It is difficult to sell music these days, but if you have a dedicated enough fanbase, it can still be lucrative.
You can use Paypal to sell digital downloads of your tracks, either individually or as a group (put the files together in a .zip or .rar to reduce download time!) in much the same way as merchandise. But if you can, it’s still good to get a CD up for sale, as people do like to have something physical for their money. Something they can cruise to in their cars. Again, do the research, get the quotes and fork out the money. After the first load of merch you sell runs out, you will have enough money to pay yourself back for the initial outlay and begin spending the money you’ve just made on more merch!
Last.FM have recently started a royalties scheme for the artists on there – I haven’t had a close look yet, but it seems worth checking out.
This is what it comes down to – if people don’t know you have a product, they DEFINATELY won’t buy it!
Get some adverts on your myspace and facebook promoting your merchandise, send the occasional bulletin and change your default picture to an advertisement of your merch.
Make it easy to see that you have merchandise available.
And when you have the orders, send them out ASAP. Add in a small piece of paper saying something like “Thanks for buying a You and What Army T-shirt – You may now proceed to make all your friends jealous”
Little things like that make all the difference – if you can make the experience more personal, people are more likely to buy from you again. I have sold several different t-shirts to the same people as a result of being a friendly person as well as dependable business.
Build up your online merchandise repertoire. Release new products on a regular basis to make more money – your fans will buy new products when you have them so make the most of that!
Do you have any tips regarding making money with your band? Share them with us in a comment below!