With the ever-changing technological world, staying caught up on the latest money-making trends is proving to get harder and harder. As more and more platforms and features come out, it gets more confusing and difficult to know which path to follow. Ariel Hyatt and Dawoud Kringle sit down on MFM Speaks Out to discuss this rapid change. The two discuss new, effective ways to monetize music as an independent artist.
Monetize Music: First Steps
Before we go over tactics, we must go over basics. Many musicians who enter the industry oftentimes struggle with social media trends. Therefore, independent artists ask music marketing and PR firms for help. While companies are here to help, they also expect you to put in your own effort to your brand. So, you must be thinking…
What’s the 1st Thing PR Firms Look For in a Potential Client?
The very first thing firms like ours would look for is personal accountability. This is the MOST IMPORTANT trait to have because without accountability you’ll be left with nothing. In today’s time, the competition is intense. There are over 70,000 songs uploading to Spotify every single day. If you’re an artist who isn’t willing to put in the time and work into learning the new industry, then you’re not going to make it. If you’re not willing to do what makes you stand out, that’s a red flag.
Have you ever caught yourself refusing to post and interact on social media, and maybe so far as to not publishing your music to Spotify? If you have, then you are making it impossible for yourself to get any help from PR firms. Being successful requires a willingness to learn and put in work additional to making music.
Can Artists Manage Themselves and Still Monetize Music?
While not impossible, an artist who can manage themselves and make music simultaneously successfully is very rare. In order to achieve this, you must have a strong connection within both your right and left brains. This allows you to switch from creative and playful to professional and intellectual. While having this capability would help tremendously, some artists can only be an artist. Not everyone can be well-versed in business AND music. However, what divides the hard-workers from the rest is how they adapt.
There is very little evidence that shows success in people who refuse to use tech. Technology has taken over our day-to-day lives and if artists cannot learn to adapt to even just a small portion of it are not seeing success.
Is It Difficult Working in the Industry?
The age-old stereotype of indie musicians trying to make it is that of the image of the “starving artist”. While it is difficult, having this imagery hanging over our heads is not very empowering. Truthfully, we have to dig a little deeper to determine whether or not earning money is difficult in this industry. To dig deeper, you must ask yourself: what are you really passionate about? What you’re excellent at will help show how you’ll succeed in the world.
For example, imagine a bus driver who has this job because they need to pay their monthly bills. They might hate the job itself, but when you look deeper at his skills, you’ll see the connection. Perhaps this bus driver is good at directions and generally has a great way of getting around the city. While this skill might not be useful on a normal day, as a bus driver, this person is helping lots of people get to their destinations.
Take that same example but instead of their trait being good at directions, let’s say they are very social. What we see now is someone who may not enjoy sitting in a bus driving people around, but loves being able to talk to so many different and intriguing people each day. These examples are a great reminder that even when things become difficult, remember why it is that you do it. You can also reflect back on everything it took to get you to where you are today and how you made it happen. Doing this can give you a different approach to your current issue.
Be able to face reality and be honest about your real talents and aptitudes. Everyone has their own part to play.
How Do I Approach Music Marketing for Monetization?
Every artist is different, so every approach is going to depend on who you are as a person and as an artist. As a marketer, your job is to understand your client. Try thinking: what can the artist tolerate? What’s easy for them? If they’re visual, have them post photos on Instagram. Perhaps they like to write and tell stories; send them to write blogs. If they love the camera, get them making videos and posting them to YouTube and TikTok.
One thing you have to understand early on is that you can’t be good at all the platforms. If you’re really good at 1, you shouldn’t have to feel like you have to be just as active and popular on all other platforms. Because every artist is different, there is no set marketing strategy, but there are general guidelines.
With marketing, there’s something very important you must consider before releasing your strategy. The idea of owned media is not complicated, but it can cause serious issues if you’re unaware of how to use it. Owned media is essentially asking yourself: what is in your control? What is your property and your identity? The answer to those questions. is your owned media. You only have 1 pass, so don’t get rid of it all in one strategy.
A very important saying you should always think about when making marketing strategies: don’t put all your eggs in 1 basket. Don’t especially do it if they don’t belong to you. The last thing you’ll want to be is deeply indebted to these platforms and companies because you used publicity that wasn’t yours to use freely.
Don’t Forget About Email Lists!
Email list statistics are the most important pieces of statistics you’ll want to have and it’s usually the most forgotten. Email list stats show you who’s actively opening and reading what you’re sending out. This information can also help you adjust your marketing strategy for you to get the best appeal. Once you have them up and running, all you have to do is keep a consistency going and your email lists will do the rest of the work for you.
How Will Social Media Affect My Day-to-Day?
One of the biggest issues with social media is how it is constantly changing. Trends come and go within a blink of an eye and new platforms emerge and takeover. However, there are some general tips that can help you stay ahead of the times. There’s always going to be a new platform that everyone looks to. “The new wave” will come and go time and time again. As an artist, social media will become a part of your daily life.
One important concept to keep in mind is that each platform runs its time, and at some point it will go down. Because of this, we should also be mindful about how we use our marketing tactics. For example, when MySpace was around, users would spend hundreds of dollars getting their views up. All that money now goes to waste because the entire platform went under. This is where we must remain conscious of the fact that social media shouldn’t be our entire livelihood.
This can be difficult because as we all know, social media is very addicting. However, this addiction also plays strongly with your reality. If you don’t have an optimistic outlook on life, you won’t find any good luck coming your way. Be sure to stay positive through it all in order or your reality to remain upright and positive.
While there is more awareness around how much creators make, there’s still a lot of misunderstanding around how much actually goes in their pockets at the end of the day. Physical sales are no longer able to support artists by themselves. That amount of income is long gone. Now, artists and creators have had to think of other ways to monetize music. There are wildly creative and interesting ways that artists will use to get their art out and become more available to the rest of us.
To listen to the full podcast, click here.
“A lot of my songs land somewhere in the sweet spot (salty spot?) between cynicism and acceptance. When the protagonist of this tune uses the word “better” to describe aspects of her life or life in general, is she being sincere or facetious? Weirdly, even though I wrote and sing the song, I’m not quite sure how to answer that question myself.”
“Sin Eater” by Annie Stokes
“I wrote this song about the Appalachian/Gaelic tradition of having a member of the community eat food off of a casket to absorb the deceased person’s sin. It’s a bizarre and gruesome tradition that, to me, represents how we end up taking on the traumas of people we love. It was also very fun to experiment with a bigger, fuller rock sound on this song.”
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