Taking the plunge into a career in music can be a daunting thought. Millions of questions arise – do I need a manager? What does a label even do? Why does my drummer always want to cover Rush? However, the biggest question, and often truly the most daunting is - how can I make this career financially sustainable?
It goes without saying that the music industry is in a very interesting transition phase where the old model has fallen with the rise of internet streaming and downloads. You could sit down with three industry professionals, and it wouldn’t be out of the question that they would tell you three wildly different opinions on where the industry is headed. Bands still tour with physical albums, and they are placed on their merch table right next to free download cards of the same record. It’s also not out of the question for an artist to have a million plays on YouTube without having released a full album. No one truly knows what the landscape of the music industry will look like moving forward - however, there are many educated guesses that point towards things like increased streaming revenues, sync licensing and simply getting on the road and grinding it out on tour. In addition to the more traditional revenue sources, the key to surviving the future of music is going to involve being creative with alternative funding options.
Did you cringe while reading that word? Well, you shouldn’t. Kickstarter campaigns have been unbelievably successful for many people; music industry or otherwise. There are quite a few different websites that can host your crowdfunding campaign, two of the most popular being IndieGoGo
and the aforementioned Kickstarter
. Each of these platforms operate slightly differently in terms of things like what percentage of earnings they take, and if they pay you out if you reach your goal or not. I highly recommend doing thorough research on each platform to see which one is best suited for your project. Another site to take note of is PledgeMusic
, which is a crowdfunding site specifically built around musical projects. It’s run by industry professionals who help you right from the start; your project gets assigned a manager and they take stock of your band as a business through things such as social media fan engagement. From there they help set a realistic goal that they’re confident you can attain. Music BC will have PledgeMusic CEO Benji Rogers at our upcoming How-To Series, March 12th 2016
It was a bit of a struggle to wrap my head around the idea of artists using sponsorship for revenue means. I mean, isn’t rock music about fighting the establishment and taking down the man? However, at the end of the day, if you are an artist looking to make music as a career, you need to treat yourself as a business. Just like Nintendo’s product is video games and the NHL’s product is hockey, your product is your music. There can be natural, authentic partnerships between your band and an existing brand - for example, Victoria's Current Swell
is all about the laid back, west coast lifestyle, and so it was a natural fit to partner with Sitka
, a clothing and surf brand also based out of BC's west coast. Allison Shaw from Manic Monkee
in LA will be at the Music BC How-To Series for Alternative Funding Sources, and she’ll be able to explain music sponsorship and brand development in greater detail.
I mentioned earlier that an artist could have a million plays on YouTube without having an album. How do you turn a million plays into dollars? Through monetization, advertising, and strategic partnerships. The internet is really powerful, and I believe that many musicians aren't utilizing its tools to their full potential. Conveniently enough, Music BC will be bringing in Josh Carr-Hilton from The District
to talk about online monetization at the How-To Series as well.
For more information on Music BC’s How-To Series on Alternative Funding Sources, please click here
, and to RSVP to the event, click here
Mike Noble is the Program Administrator for Music BC, a BCIT Broadcast and Communications grad and all around nice guy. If you have any questions about this particular article, or a suggestion for a topic in the future, please email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.