Photo by josephdepalma
There’s a great way of making money from your music and merch that’s so underground that most likely neither you nor anyone you know has heard of it. Actually, it’s the underground of the underground.
The main reason so few musicians are doing it is, I think, that most don’t know anyone else doing it. Or it seems like too much work. Or they can’t believe they can actually make money from their music, or something.
It isn’t a lot of work, really. The selling bit runs on automation – once it’s all written up it runs on automatic pilot, and only needs to be updated when you bring out a new album, which surely isn’t all that often.
The other part of the equation is finding prospective buying fans from the internet, and directing them to your sales pages. This part is ongoing and you could call it “work”, but that depends on your definition of work. If you like talking about music and bands you like, instruments you play and all that sort of thing, it just might not feel like work. Especially if you only need to write 140 characters at a time.
Actually, you may already be doing this “work”, but don’t know the nifty techniques internet marketers use to get many thousands of Twitter followers who are predisposed to like what they are offering, and to send their Twitter followers to a sales page that actually produces steady sales.
To make a really good income you’d need to be doing a lot more than Twitter, but same applies. It’s work but it isn’t work (especially when the money is flowing in).
Another reason many musicians don’t get interested in trying this new method, after hearing about it, is they think they are going to find success in the old-fashioned way, whether they do it themselves or a record label does it for them.
The old way
The old way of music marketing is the method the record labels have traditionally used. It involves bringing out some good products and then getting maximum exposure. Blanket exposure… traditionally on radio, TV and in the press, and these days also on You Tube and the rest. The theory is that if enough people know about an artist, enough people will buy their stuff to tip the balance, so that success breeds success.
This does work for a few people. But what about all the other musicians out there who are producing really good music and want to make a living doing it?
Only 10 new artists a year get gold records in the US, while 40 people are killed every year by lightning in the US. You are 4 times more likely to be killed by lightning than make it big as a new artist, in the USA.
So if you are hoping to find success the old-fashioned way, it might not be worth wasting your time, money and effort attempting it – it might be worth taking matters into your own hands and trying something different.
Publicity vs internet marketing
The old way as described above is essentially a matter of distribution and publicity. You get your music and merch out for sale somewhere and then hire a publicist, or read up on what publicists have to say and follow their advice. Or hope a record label will organise publicity for you.
Good publicists know a lot about publicity and getting your name ‘out there'; perhaps they have been doing this for years, really know heaps, have got all the right contacts, and have a lot to offer any musician.
They may well be able to help a musician who’s doing internet marketing, in various ways.
However they don’t necessarily know anything about internet marketing itself, that is, the type of marketing done by internet marketers who are making 6-figure incomes selling all types of products.
In fact it is highly unlikely publicists would have anything more than a passing knowledge of this type of marketing simply because it hasn’t been used for very long as a method for creating revenue for musicians, and the know-how involved is pretty specialised. Successful internet marketers spend years (and often a lot of money in training) learning the ropes, before they make their huge incomes every year.
Internet marketing for musicians
A handful of successful internet marketers who also happen to be musicians had some light bulbs go off and realised they could sell music using their internet marketing skills. So they modified their techniques to suit music, and set to it with great results.
Being public spirited they are keen for musicians across the board to have access to this approach, and are teaching the techniques for free and for reasonable prices.
It doesn’t involve getting lots of publicity on radio, TV, in the press and the like. It’s a stealth approach… potential fans are quietly gathered into your circle from the internet and converted into buyers.
The advantage of doing things this way is that you control it. You are not at the mercy of radio and the press, or of the record labels – if you want to make more money you do more work and/or bring in new techniques.
And the irony is that if you do want to get a record label interested in you, they are more likely to pay attention if you have a big mailing list, and are already making money without them.
What it isn’t and what it is
Many musicians think they already do internet marketing, or at least think they know what it involves. They might be right, too, because internet marketing basically means selling things using the internet, and many musicians do promote themselves on Facebook, Twitter etc, have an email newsletter, and do sell an album here and there.
However the specialised techniques that successful internet marketers do are different… if the following two things are not features of your marketing campaign, you are not using the highly effective stealth method:
1. You are getting lots of new subscribers on your email list every single day, and the majority of these subscribers haven’t been to a gig and hadn’t even heard of you before. By ‘lots’ I mean 100 or more, or at least shooting for that.
2. Around 5% of your subscribers purchase something from you a few weeks after signing up to your list.
The methods I’m referring to are used to sell hair bows, health products, how-to videos, and all sorts of other things that definitely don’t do gigs.
How to do it
I’d recommend the following products if you would like to learn to do internet marketing for music: Greg Rollett’s New Music Economy, and John Oszajca’s Music Marketing Manifesto. I’ve done these courses and also more advanced courses from each of these guys, and I think what they offer is fantastic.
You are also welcome to contact me through the Contact page if you would like to ask me anything about all this, such as discussing what might be most suitable for you personally.
To be honest, unless you really can’t use a computer or something (in which case you probably won’t be reading this) I don’t think there’s any reason why you can’t be making a good, steady income from your music.
So here’s to your success!
If you’d like some facts and figures re this type of marketing check out A Music Business Plan For The Independent Musician by John Oszajca.
Comments are very welcome, and feel free to ask any questions. Also feel free to try the Speakpipe over on the right (you might want to try setting one up yourself, so you can talk to your fans).
Cheers – Robin