This guide is by Music Full Time owner Ches Christian.
What I’m about to share with you today is my opinion. Not everyone will agree, but I think a lot of you will see where I’m coming from. If you can, then hopefully it’ll help guide you in your approach to your music career.
Most things in life happen for a reason. A lot of behavior is predictable, and if you look close enough patterns can be seen. It’s when you start to look out for an understand these patterns that you can start making traction in whatever it is you’re hoping to achieve.
How does this relate to music? I’ll tell you. Let’s say for example you’re a rapper, yet are still not quite sure how to put lyrics together and project your voice. Furthermore you haven’t got your technique right yet, and you flow off beat. You get a show at a night your friend is organizing, then you go on stage and start performing. Chances are, the crowd isn’t going to react very well.
You’re not at the level which they expect, therefore you don’t get a very good reaction. This is the likely outcome if you put those things in the mix (the lack of talent) and then showcase it to people.
It can work in a positive way too. A common rule of putting together a good rap, is your bars (lyrics for those non rappers) need to either rhyme every bar, every second bar, or every forth bar. That, or the way they’re structured needs to flow well. Furthermore, if you’re rapping to a backing track, you need to stay in time to the predetermined instruments.
Doing these things along with having a likeable voice and good lyrics is what makes a good rapper. Match these right patterns and you’re giving yourself a better chance of people liking you.
So what if you’ve followed the patterns and have good singing / rapping / producing ability? How comes you haven’t got where you want to be in terms of fans and money? Well, the most likely answer is:
You’re not marketing yourself correctly!
Music marketing is a key piece of the puzzle many musicians never put into effect – Tweet This
If your grasp on the business side of the music industry isn’t very good, you’ll struggle to make money from music. Business is all about extracting money from people while providing them with value, so everyone wins. It’s not a dirty term where by you should feel bad for selling to people. It’s a way for them to say thank you for giving them something they enjoy, and for them to support you in carrying on your music making.
Now I’m sure you’ve seen those average musicians doing well in terms of music sales and regular gigs up and down the country. If they are truly average talent wise, chances are they’re very good at business. They’re probably also making money.
It’s because of this that learning the business of music is probably slightly more important than talent if you want to make a full time living from it all.
If you too want to start earning from your music, you need to learn business skills. This includes how to sell, how to craft an offer that people want, what kind of marketing efforts you should be carrying out and the like.
If You Want Fans To Part With Money, You Need To Benefit Them First
Ok, so here’s one of the most important points of this article:
If you want to make money from music, you need to learn how to put your fans and customers first!
Stop thinking about how great you are, and start thinking how you can benefit people through your music. Once you start making others happy, they will naturally start wanting to help you back. Then if you’ve got the right sales funnels set up leading people from your mailing list to things people can financially reward you with (e.g. songs, merch, show tickets etc), you will start seeing money for your efforts.
There are full time musicians that are making good money from their music that you’ve probably never heard of. I’ve spoken before about fame and income requiring different actions, so depending on your aims, you’ll want to want to learn how to do the right thing for you.
If you want to make an income from your talents, you’ll need to learn good business principles.
Here in Toronto, I constantly come across rappers who insist that a seated audience “get up and put their hands in the air”. They do it because this fits their own perceptions of a “good show” and/or they’re hoping someone captures a good shot of them “rocking” the crowd. Newsflash though, these people are sitting because they want to sit. They’re comfortable. If they’re feeling the show, they’ll get up. On their time. An audience with that attitude doesn’t really appreciate being forced to stand and raise their hands; in fact, if they don’t feel like obliging you, they won’t. This approach of course, amounts to lower CD sales and disgruntled artists griping about our city and saying they ought to move to the states (which they never do, because these artists have the PmC bug we talked about earlier).
In any relationship, you’ll find that things run smoothly when you consider your partner’s needs ahead of your own. It’s not about depriving yourself; it’s about being interested in what the other person requires in order to be happy – if you’re in the right relationship, your partner should be doing the same for you, which makes for a great union. As artists, we need to realize that we’re in a relationship with our fans, and start thinking about the “other person” more than we think about ourselves. If we focus on making our fans happy, then the resulting love we get back will show in our sales. It’s a two way street. This is the biggest and most profitable business principle I can leave with you. It truly works.
Aside from that, we need to read a book or two on business to thoroughly educate ourselves on revenue making models. If music is just a hobby for you…no problem; hope this article wasn’t too much of a time-waster for you. But if you are looking to make money with your music, well, making money is a business and it’s also an art in and of itself. Take time to learn the patterns and rules of successful businesses. It will make a difference.
Check out the books below as recommended reading on business and marketing; they should definitely get your creative juices flowing.
- Free Marketing by Jim Cockrum. A great book of various low-cost and even free marketing techniques that easily translate to any business including music.
- Purple Cow by Seth Godin. A favorite of recording artist Jay Z, this is an excellent book which helps train your mind to think outside the proverbial marketing box.
- Getting Everything You Can Out of All You’ve Got: 21 Ways You Can Out-Think, Out-Perform, and Out-Earn the Competition by Jay Abraham. Title is self-explanatory and this book is worth the read; Abraham is a millionaire – he didn’t get there by accident- and swears by the principle of falling in love with the customer.