7 Ways to Make Money as an Indie ArtistAug 19, 2021
Right now is the greatest time in history to be an indie artist. We have all the tools and resources we need to build and grow a career in music. With accessible recording equipment, social media, zoom and other apps and technology we can literally create a successful music journey with almost everything we already have.
But, how do we actually earn money as an indie artist? Without an income, it is hard to dedicate all the time and resource it takes to launch or continue on the indie artist journey. Every path is different and unique but I wanted to give some ideas for how, as indies, we can earn money to keep pouring into our career and impact people through our music.
One of the best ways to earn money as an indie artist comes through streaming/digital download. Streaming income is passive so once your song is available, it can literally generate money for years to come and there is no more effort involved because the song is finished. Yes, the income generated by streaming is low, BUT every stream counts and overtime it can become significant. We just have to keep releasing quality music, promoting, and let the algorithms help push our music out which will in turn, generate streaming income.
Another major income stream opportunity for indie artists are songwriting royalties. Think of this like the other half of the streaming revenue. Every time a song is purchased or streamed there are 2 halves to the income. First is the master recording, which is 50%, and the songwriting royalty, which is the other 50%. It is important to be registered with a PRO like ASCAP or BMI to make sure all of your work is registered and also being tracked to ensure you receive the songwriting royalties your music generates.
Placements in Film and TV
Getting placements in film and tv can create a huge stream of income for indie artists. The need is great and if you can find a publisher or a library to work with that can get you placement opportunities, it can be a great way to generate income as an indie artist.
Live events have always been a major income stream for artists, both indie and signed. The great thing about our current technology is that now live events can be virtual. There are artists who earn a great living by streaming live concerts regularly. Whether in person or virtual, putting on live events is a great way for indies to generate income.
Creating merch is a great way to generate income as an indie artist. Because so much of our world is virtual now, having tangible merch is a way for a fan of your music to actually be able to connect with you in a real way. T-shirts, stickers, hats or any other type of merch is a powerful way to make your artistry real for your fans. And now many companies allow you to design and sell merch without having to purchase upfront, which has greatly lowered the start-up cost, all while allowing you to offer great product lines to your audience.
Due to social media the “influencer” was born. If you have a big enough following and are clear on your messaging it may make sense to partner with brands to promote and do influencer marketing. There can be huge earning potential in this, and in many cases you would just need to post on your socials mentioning the brand you are working with. This is becoming extremely common and can be a great way for indies to earn income.
With services like Patreon indie artists can now directly receive money from fans. There are many artists who can sustain a career from crowd support. If you can offer your super fans something that will bring them into your journey, and they are willing to financially support, you can quickly generate a sustainable income.
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