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Leveling Up Your Music Brand

The CAB Portal blog provides articles on tricks of the trade and best practices, as well as news, interviews, artist showcases and recommended products/services, that emerging artists can utilize to take their music brand to the next level of success.

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The 14 Best Ways To Make Money From Your Music As An Emerging Artist

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Some emerging artists have a basic sense of the many diverse ways they can make money from their music independently while others likely still dream of the chance to be signed to a record label. The independent sector of the music industry is expanding as more emerging artists are turning away from the standard major label model to create music on their own terms. This new dichotomy allows these artists the ability to keep almost all of the money they earn, as opposed to a record label needing to recoup the costs invested in a signed artist's recording sessions, video shoots, promotion and marketing.  

Emerging artists can now produce their own beats and record themselves in their bedroom, share their new song or project online, and shoot a high quality music video from their mobile phone, all for fractions of the cost than it would have been twenty years ago. Plus there is no record label to pay back.

Some revenue streams from music are simple to understand, like playing shows, or selling t-shirts but there are many more ways that emerging artists can earn money from their compositions, performances, sound recordings, brand, or knowledge of the craft. Here are 14 of the best ways to make money from your music as an emerging artist.

1. Performance Royalties

Registering your music with a Performing Right Organization [PRO] such as ASCAP or BMI is not only for public performances and radio airplay royalties, but also for sync deals too. You have to make sure that your songs are properly registered with PROs because performance royalties can be an easy earner. Public performance royalties include radio, live venues, mechanical royalties i.e sales through retailers, streaming etc, and sync royalties i.e commercials, film, TV, among others.

2. CD Sales

Most people believe that CDs have gone the way of the dinosaur, but if you are going to play live shows, it's a good idea to have CDs at hand. They make great takeaway souvenirs that can easily be signed by you and this is highly effective as you can generate a great number of sales directly to fans especially after a great performance.

3. Digital Sales

It's a great idea to sell your music through your own website as well as generating sales through online retailers like Spotify, Apple Music, and Google Play Music. Keep in mind that online retailers take a percentage of sales as commission. Some digital distributors that place music in stores like iTunes and Amazon will also take a cut on top of that. 

4. Streaming 

In as much as payouts per stream from streaming services tend to be little, they do add up over time. Services such as Spotify, Google Play Music, and Apple Music are also great ways to help new fans discover your music.

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5. Live Shows 

Money made from live shows can vary greatly depending on the type of performance, place and attendance. It is one of the best ways to earn income. You not only make money from selling tickets, but it is also one of the best ways to sell merchandise, whether it be physical or digital.

6. Physical Merch

The income from physical merchandise depends heavily on the amount of live shows you play. If you were to go out on a tour, you have to be sure to have some t-shirts, as well as other items like buttons and stickers that you can sell to your fans after the show. 

7. Digital Merch

You can also sell digital merchandise like music download cards, videos, and images to your fans. Other things like lyric books, live concerts, sheet music, exclusive photos, artwork and more can also be sold to the fans. 

8. Crowdfunding

Crowdfunding can be a great way to generate income for your music career. A well-planned crowdfunding campaign on Patreon or Indiegogo can help you raise enough money to offset the cost of producing and marketing your next song or album. Raising money from the campaign could involve your family, friends and your social media followers.

9. Digital Royalties

Each time an artist's music is played on the radio, Pandora, and webcast, they have to pay royalties. You should sign up for a free Sound Exchange account to make sure you are collecting those royalties.

10. Music Licensing

If your song gets placed in a film, commercial, or TV show, chances are that they are going to pay you a licensing fee. These fees vary depending on the budget for the project, and how badly they want that particular song to be used.

11. YouTube

Whenever your music is used in videos that are running adverts on YouTube, YouTube pays a portion of that advertising money to the rights holders of the song. Digital distributors like TuneCore, Audiam and CD Baby can help you collect that money. 

12. Sponsorships

If you have built up a huge fan base, some companies may be willing to sponsor you so as to reach to those fans. Sponsorships can range from cash, to free products, services and gear. 

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13. Session Work

When you put yourself out there as a session musician you earn extra money. As a singer or instrumentalist, you could do session work for different musical projects or even in advertising.  

14. Songwriting/Composing

If you are a songwriter, you could write songs for other musicians, or even compose music specifically for a given film and television.