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Is it actually possible to make money from music anymore?

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Is it actually possible to make money from music anymore?

Postby GBlack » Sun Jan 07, 2018 7:04 pm

Having just read a blog all about the ins and out of making money from streaming I feel pretty sick :cry:
I’m clean out of ideas of how to make money from music unless someone is generous enough to buy a download but apparently that’s now a rarity with streaming subscriptions.
I’m an electronic musician and don’t really gig but with the world all being about social media and online presence I’m wondering what’s the best avenue to take.
Any ideas anyone?
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Re: Is it actually possible to make money from music anymore?

Postby blinddrew » Sun Jan 07, 2018 7:26 pm

I know a few people who are professional musicians in various capacities, but in general very few of them are making any kind of money from original music. Even those who've been well reviewed and had national radio airplay. Most of their income comes from cover gigs and lessons, though a couple are trying to diversify into music recording / production - but as I'm sure most people here will tell you, there's booger all money there either.
The current reality is, as I perceive it, that:
1) ongoing, long-term, difficulties in the economy mean that people have less disposable income,
2) and what they have is split between far more options (games, cable tv, internet etc),
3) lower barriers to entry mean that a far higher number of artists are producing great content,
4) meaning supply is higher than demand,
5) convience / accessiblity currently trumps quality and duration - so streaming is now the most popular way of consuming music.

In summary, music plays a much smaller and less important part in people's lives than it did 20/30/40 years ago so there will be less of a market, and hence less chance for money to change hands. Add that to the aforementioned democratisation of music making and you have more people competing for less money.
There are people making a living in this market, but you've got to be pretty darn good at what you do and have a really clear plan on how to achieve it.
Also, going from my professional mates, learn how to live really frugally.

This is all just my opinion based on my experience in the north of England mind, it might be very different down south.
Also I have no idea what the situation is like for classical music / musicians.
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Re: Is it actually possible to make money from music anymore?

Postby GBlack » Sun Jan 07, 2018 7:42 pm

Thanks for the reply blinddrew certainly food for thought.
I’m also in the north in Manchester I live a basic self sufficient life on a boat pretty much which I enjoy but I love making music and music technology and got back into music again only to be totally dismayed at the market.
Trying to get my head around this whole streaming thing balanced against the amount of time it takes to finish a track and all the costs involved in that.
The so called Beatmaking market on Instagram looks early interesting and vibrant but again I don’t really understand the Instagram social model either or how to turn that into income.
All the best.
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Re: Is it actually possible to make money from music anymore?

Postby Watchmaker » Sun Jan 07, 2018 9:10 pm

I tend to echo much of blindrew's view. I have some friends who've been scratching in the dirt for decades thinking there is money to be made in music. I gave up trying to make money at it when I was 35 (18 years ago) and it seems like it's only gotten harder with the advent of mass portable entertainment devices and the unbelievable proliferation of high quality recording gear.

Some of these friends lament the demise of the market and complain that music is too parochial to be interesting anymore; the loss of skill associated with loss of artistic constraints. I'm not convinced that all boats would rise if there were fewer boats in the lake though.

To some extent, there's been a lowest-common denominator field effect filter applied that in statistical terms essentially lowers any output below the threshold of common awareness unless certain perfected marketing dollars have been judiciously applied. Back when I was dying as an artist there was a lot of pay to play shit coming up and if you didn't have an uncle who was an entertainment lawyer, the only thing that would save you was an ass-kicking live show. I suspect the ass-kicking live show is really the only meaningful way to present music anyway, but that's a personal opinion. No great live show = no dinero.

The bands I played in only made money on tour and a chunk of that was merch.

It's also interesting to consider that, radio and contemporary music production in their turn killed off parlor music and the traditions that existed for hundreds, if not thousands, of years before Marconi suffered his fate.

I don't think however that people are any less creative now but I do suspect that what attracts creativity has morphed.
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Re: Is it actually possible to make money from music anymore?

Postby BigRedX » Tue Jan 09, 2018 11:24 am

What do you mean when you say "make money"? Do you want to simply be getting some money back from people buying and/or listening to your music; make a net profit after deducting all your costs for producing your music; or actually make a living out of music?

Also it would help if you were a bit more specific about what genre(s) your music falls into. Electronic music is a fairly broad description and covers pretty much everything from Musique Concrète through to mainstream dance tunes, and obviously the way you would go about finding your audience (because having an audience is what will ultimately make you money) will be different depending on what sort of music you are making.

I will say a few things straight off which are universal irrespective of the style of music you are producing:

1. Right now live performance for most genres is where the money is. The live performance is the bit that can't be adequately copied and shared on-line. Nowadays recordings are very much seen as the promotional material for the live show, which of course is a complete reversal of how it used to be, when playing live generally lost artists money but was used to generate sales of the album.

2. Stop moaning about not understanding social media, and take the time and effort to work out what it can do for you. Unless your audience is almost completely made up of 40+ technophobes, you will need an active social media presence in order to promote your musical activities. Also be aware that "active" means that you are posting something interesting and engaging at least once a week on all the major platforms.

3. If you want to make an actual living out of music then you need to treat it the same way as any other job. That means knuckling down and putting in a minimum of 7 hours a day actually producing or promoting you musical activities. That doesn't include sitting around waiting for your "muse" to talk to you. If you find yourself short on creative musical inspiration, then work on promotional activities and networking, but you need to put in a "full days work". If you treat making music as a hobby, then you'll most likely only see hobby money (i.e. nothing) out of it.

Sorry if that comes over a bit harsh, but it's best to get the realities out of the way at the beginning. IME it is possible to make money out of musi., but it is directly linked to the amount of effort you put in to both the music and promoting it.
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Re: Is it actually possible to make money from music anymore?

Postby BikerDude » Tue Jan 09, 2018 2:42 pm

I try to put it in perspective.
Most of the musicians that we now immortalize (Beatles, Stones etc etc) all started out with the goal of just making a living as a musician. Not needing to work another job.
That was realistic at the time.
Then the music industry exploded and suddenly musicians were wealthy.
Typically it's been true that most musicians scraped out a living.
So in a sense it's a return to normalcy.
Still sucks though.
I'm gonna need to re-evaluate my plan to own my own island in the Caribbean like Keith Richards.
Looks like I may have over estimated that likelihood.
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Re: Is it actually possible to make money from music anymore?

Postby Brian M Rose » Tue Jan 09, 2018 3:10 pm

Well, a guy called Mozart didn't make money from writing, he had to teach to make anything at all. and although he didn't exactly die a pauper (as in the film Amadeus) he didn't exactly end up all that rich either.
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Re: Is it actually possible to make money from music anymore?

Postby ken long » Tue Jan 09, 2018 3:19 pm

Hello,

The question should really be: Can you sell your music?

That has always been the question. Not everyone can do it. Don't blame streaming or lack of exposure. There has never been a better time to share your music with the world.

Niche product markets like vinyl and cassette are experiencing a revival.

vinyl 300 units will set you back about £1200-1500 all in. Sell them for £15 each and your turnover is £4500. That's a pretty nice profit. *If* you can sell them. And if you can't sell 300 units, then maybe re-consider your approach as that is a very very low number to shift.

Fine line between artist releases and vanity projects.
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Re: Is it actually possible to make money from music anymore?

Postby CS70 » Tue Jan 09, 2018 4:17 pm

GBlack wrote:Having just read a blog all about the ins and out of making money from streaming I feel pretty sick :cry:
I’m clean out of ideas of how to make money from music unless someone is generous enough to buy a download but apparently that’s now a rarity with streaming subscriptions.
I’m an electronic musician and don’t really gig but with the world all being about social media and online presence I’m wondering what’s the best avenue to take.
Any ideas anyone?

Yes, it's perfectly possible to make money (and even a living) with music, the way it's mostly been: mixing a number of different activities - teaching, session work, libraries, live shows etc. It seems to have become harder to become a music star (and even harder to get rich in the proceedings) but that's always been limited to a very small percentage of musicians anyways. But for example DJ-ing seems to be quite profitable these days, and so are live dates if you get a consistent following.
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Re: Is it actually possible to make money from music anymore?

Postby GBlack » Tue Jan 09, 2018 9:09 pm

BigRedX wrote:What do you mean when you say "make money"? Do you want to simply be getting some money back from people buying and/or listening to your music; make a net profit after deducting all your costs for producing your music; or actually make living out of music?

Also it would help if you were a bit more specific about what genre(s) your music falls into. Electronic music is a fairly broad description and covers pretty much everything from Musique Concrète through to mainstream dance tunes, and obviously the way you would go about finding your audience (because having an audience is what will ultimately make you money) will be different depending on what sort of music you are making.

I will say a few things straight off which are universal irrespective of the style of music you are producing:

1. Right now live performance for most genres is where the money is. The live performance is the bit that can't be adequately copied and shared on-line. Nowadays recordings are very much seen as the promotional material for the live show, which of course is a complete reversal of how it used to be, when playing live generally lost artists money but was used to generate sales of the album.

2. Stop moaning about not understanding social media, and take the time and effort to work out what it can do for you. Unless your audience is almost completely made up of 40+ technophobes, you will need an active social media presence in order to promote your musical activities. Also be aware that "active" means that you are posting something interesting and engaging at least once a week on all the major platforms.

3. If you want to make an actual living out of music then you need to treat it the same way as any other job. That means knuckling down and putting in a minimum of 7 hours a day actually producing or promoting you musical activities. That doesn't include sitting around waiting for your "muse" to talk to you. If you find yourself short on creative musical inspiration, then work on promotional activities and networking, but you need to put in a "full days work". If you treat making music as a hobby, then you'll most likely only see hobby money (i.e. nothing) out of it.

Sorry if that comes over a bit harsh, but it's best to get the realities out of the way at the beginning. IME it is possible to make money out of musi., but it is directly linked to the amount of effort you put in to both the music and promoting it.

It’s not harsh and stating the obvious as far as I’m concerned.
I just don’t know how people get thousands upon thousands of follows on Instagram and Facebook for example, I’m assuming they pay and spend a ridiculous amount of time on those platforms exposing themselves.
It’s one thing expressing an opinion saying don’t moan about it but it’s quite another actually describing how it’s done.
The way people buy music because of streaming has completely changed that’s not moaning that’s recognising the market environment.
Here’s one of the links I read about the prospect of actually making money from streaming during my research https://ids.uni.edu/loudsoundlogic/how- ... oundcloud/
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Re: Is it actually possible to make money from music anymore?

Postby Zukan » Wed Jan 10, 2018 9:49 am

No one in our industry is making money bar the frontmen.
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Re: Is it actually possible to make money from music anymore?

Postby BigRedX » Wed Jan 10, 2018 3:01 pm

To the OP - are you a member of the PRS, MCPS and PPL. If not you need to join those organisations now because in this age of streaming these are important if you want to actually see money from people streaming your music.

Also which aggregator service are you using to get your music on iTunes, Amazon, Spotify etc?
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Re: Is it actually possible to make money from music anymore?

Postby johnny h » Wed Jan 10, 2018 5:25 pm

GBlack wrote:Having just read a blog all about the ins and out of making money from streaming I feel pretty sick :cry:
I’m clean out of ideas of how to make money from music unless someone is generous enough to buy a download but apparently that’s now a rarity with streaming subscriptions.
I’m an electronic musician and don’t really gig but with the world all being about social media and online presence I’m wondering what’s the best avenue to take.
Any ideas anyone?
As someone who does make a living from electronic music, I can say its very difficult.

Unless you're making the kind of music that makes Philip Glass, Aphex Twin and Hans Zimmer immediately sit up and take notice, you will have to rethink the "don't really gig" thing. Gigs are the path to paying the bills, so you better start practicing.
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Re: Is it actually possible to make money from music anymore?

Postby CS70 » Wed Jan 10, 2018 8:35 pm

GBlack wrote:I just don’t know how people get thousands upon thousands of follows on Instagram and Facebook for example, I’m assuming they pay and spend a ridiculous amount of time on those platforms exposing themselves.

Yes they do. Thing is, it's a part of the job, and it's a bit like saying that a writer spends a ridiculous amount of time in front of a computer..

The job is actually harder than a regular one - eight hours per day and weekends off probably don't make it. So spending say at least a two or three hours every day learning how to use the platform first, and then producing a constant, daily stream of social media material (pictures, videos, etc) is just as much part of the job as composing music. The math is simple - the more exposure you get, the more people come to your gigs, the more money you make.

That said, remember it's a lot of smoke and mirrors: instagram followers don't make you a dime and lots of these "stars" really have regular jobs or parents who support them or live on a shoestring - but of course on instagram you see only the glamour bits.
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Re: Is it actually possible to make money from music anymore?

Postby blinddrew » Wed Jan 10, 2018 10:16 pm

ANd also don't forget that a lot of these 'followers' are bot-generated and actually have no real interest in the subject at all. The smoke and mirrors happens on a lot of levels.
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Re: Is it actually possible to make money from music anymore?

Postby Dynamic Mike » Thu Jan 11, 2018 1:08 am

blinddrew wrote:ANd also don't forget that a lot of these 'followers' are bot-generated and actually have no real interest in the subject at all. The smoke and mirrors happens on a lot of levels.
Now you've got me thinking I wonder if there are bots following bots following...? I find that strangely comforting.
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Re: Is it actually possible to make money from music anymore?

Postby blinddrew » Thu Jan 11, 2018 12:36 pm

I'm certain there are, making all those wonderful statistics about how important social media advertising is more than slightly suspect...
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Re: Is it actually possible to make money from music anymore?

Postby BikerDude » Thu Jan 11, 2018 3:09 pm

Luckily my enjoyment of making music has nothing to do with making money.
Some people bowl. Some collect stamps. Some beat each other with rubber hoses while singing the star spangled banner. Who knows?
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Re: Is it actually possible to make money from music anymore?

Postby IAA » Thu Jan 11, 2018 4:00 pm

I play around in my little spare bedroom studio


Hey, thats what I do! - :thumbup:

I'm in the lucky position of not working now so am putting more time into bringing together lots of my work over the last 40 years (!) into a CD which I will release with absolutely no expectation I'll earn anything from it. For me it really is about doing something I love. My friends and family will be keen to buy my forthcoming CD I'm sure, and are very supportive of me doing it. To be honest I'm not sure the "industry" is for me or the effort required by social media to promote my work - I just want to compose, play, mix and now release - something I thought I would never do when I was a young musician in my teens!

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Re: Is it actually possible to make money from music anymore?

Postby PinkFrogDancer » Fri Jan 12, 2018 11:06 pm

Have you tried looking for gigs? Even if it was something supplemental it could help. I am not sure how viable it is but I have a few buddies who were able to get gigs writing jingles. They make pretty decent money doing that and never has to leave the house
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