Making money in the music industry is hard. But it is entirely possible, with the right strategies. I asked 12 of my favorite people to share their advice on how to monetize music. The most popular posts in that series was written by my dear friend and client Julie Flanders, band member and songwriter for October Project. Her advice was so good, that I asked Julie to decided to update the post. (This blog post has been updated for 2021.)
Julie understands the mindset you need to succeed because she’s worked in all sides of the business.
She was a major label AND an indie DIY artist, and she now coaches creative entrepreneurs on how to increase their income, and change their overall mindset for lasting and healthy success. Julie helped me grown my own business and she is incredibly gifted at helping creative people move mountains.
I hope you learn as much from Julie as I have 🙂
Making Money With Music
20 Money Making DO’S
1. Do commit to excellence in every aspect of music. Practice your art with all your heart! And be excellent in the business too. It’s not an either/or, it’s a both/and.
2. Do give yourself responsibility (response-ABILITY) for the business part – who better than you to direct your career?
3. Do adapt and adopt new things. Learn to love change and go with the flow of new elements.
4. Do surround yourself with believers and optimists. It’s essential for doing things that matter and succeed.
5. Do think of the Business as something you can Practice – like five-finger scales or jazz and guitar riffs. You can get better at every aspect, or collaborate with or hire an expert. Think of your business team like a band. Do get people to help and support you in things you don’t want to do.
6. Do hold your dreams sacred. They are the seeds of greatness in you and for you.
7. Do define your own Terms of Success. What does success mean to you?
8. Do practice resilience. Think of Failures as strengthening exercises you have to do in order to reach Success.
9. Do plan for success. Sometimes living in and sustaining success is even more challenging than gaining it. What will be different when you make it? Plan for that!
10. Do hold a good opinion of yourself and your work. Do be your own Champion.
11. Do grow to “your full size”. Do be big for your britches. Do hold an expansive vision for your career. Do have a big head!
12. Do ignore naysayers and negative people. Critics are usually Wannabes.
13. Do support other artists with your time, money, appreciation and praise. Do give what you wish to receive.
14. Do plan for the long-haul. A great career takes time.
15. Do right by your friends. Sometimes a kind gesture can be your best career investment.
16. Do thank people and express your gratitude for them.
17. Do be common-sensible and do use your intelligence. Balance your dreaming with real-world awareness.
18. Do keep going! Persistence is one of the most powerful qualities you can have.
19. Do “let the buck stop here” with you! Where the Buck stops, The BUCKS usually stop also. Money follows leaders home.
20. Do be a leader.
20 Money Making DONT’s
1. Don’t whine. YES it’s hard. Take that upset energy and put it toward something that can help you.
2. Don’t betray yourself. No one else’s version of you is better than your own.
3. Don’t forget to practice. Nothing’s worse than getting an opportunity because you did the business part, and then not shining musically because you haven’t played in two weeks.
4. Don’t get stuck in things that don’t work. If something is failing, let it go.
5. Don’t let feelings get in the way of action. Not fear, not anger, not envy, not ANYTHING.
6. Don’t be an asshole. No one likes that.
7. Don’t be a flake. You will be judged for being disorganized, late, high, or stupid.
8. Don’t avoid challenges. They are good for you in every way.
9. Don’t put yourself down. You are worth your own support and music does not determine your value – you do!
10. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. People want to help others.
11. Don’t think you have to go it alone. Music is meant to be shared and to happen in a community.
12. Don’t keep your music all to yourself! Get yourself out there where you can be seen, heard, and appreciated.
13. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes. They are necessary and good.
14. Don’t be afraid to stand out and fly your freak flag. You don’t have to be like the others!
15. Don’t forget that Music is fun! Sometimes musicians get so serious it’s ridiculous.
16. Don’t undermine or backstab other people. The world is small.
17. Don’t sit at home. Get out there and meet people.
18. Don’t avoid what you’re afraid of. Name it, claim it and tame it. Make pets of your dragons.
19. Don’t wait for permission. No one needs to tell you to GO CREATE AND PLAY YOUR MUSIC.
20. Don’t believe what other people say about things being impossible.
Practical Tips to Help You Monetize Your Life in Music
1. Do sell your music – digitally, physically and in every format, you can think of and invent.
2. Do sell other related items of your brand and creativity such as hats, mugs, keychains, tote bags, t-shirts, etc.
3. Do make song-books or sheet music.
4. Do collaborate and share – working with other artists expands your skills, your reach, and your audience.
5. Do play out and perform as often as you can – consider it an investment, not an expense.
6. Do make money by building enough audience to support your gigs and expenses. Lavish your audiences with praise and attention.
7. Do host artists from other cities to play in your town and help them build an audience.
8. Do travel to other cities and play venues and house concerts to build regional audiences.
9. Do blog, send newsletters, post videos to YouTube etc, be active on social media and stay ahead of the curve.
10. Do create relationships with booking agents in your city and other cities and REMEMBER they MAINLY care about how many people you bring.
11. Do empower yourself to play in a lot of configurations – with a band, acoustic, with well-programmed tracks, etc.
12. Do keep current with what is happening with other artists you love, admire, envy or follow. The artists who you perceive as a step ahead of you can be very helpful. They are doing what you should be doing. Figure out what it is and go do similar things.
13. Do support artists who have what you want to have by LIKING their pages, supporting their work, going to their shows, offering to double bill with them. Create opportunities. OH! and if you want people to buy your music, buy theirs.
14. Do be a part of the music world – join ASCAP, BMI OR SESAC.
15. If you’re a woman, join Women in Music.
16. Let CYBER PR empower and educate you. Read Ariel Hyatt’s books, blogs, etc. and attend her LABS and webinars. Benefit from the generosity of her enormous free resources.
17. Do make managers, agents, critics, bloggers and anyone you can think of aware of you by connecting with them thru every channel or means you can think of.
18. Do be willing to use your other gifts and abilities to make money – teach, coach, do art and graphic design, play your instrument for others, write songs for or with people, do tech, be an engineer – whatever it takes for you to “sponsor” your own life.
19. Do crowdfund – it not only raises money, but it also raises awareness and engagement.
20. Do GO FOR IT in your own way and on your own terms.
21. PS ALSO – if it’s right for your style, DO put yourself into the LOTTERY of the big time – record deals, the Voice, and shows like it, etc. Just realize it is a LOTTERY and a game, not a measurement of your talent, abilities, soul, musicianship or success. At most, it might be a metric of your good looks and commercial appeal. It’s a game you can play, but you can’t make the rules for it. Don’t take it too seriously, but PLAY it if you are brave and silly enough. We did! And while it lasted it was a thrilling ride on the rollercoaster of the music business. You just have to remember that you don’t own the amusement park!
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