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5 Revenue Streams Music Professionals Often Neglect

Streams are important, but music streaming isn't the end all be all to proliferating in the music industry.

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Musicians and music professionals, such as managers and executives, tend to focus solely on music streaming numbers. Although streaming numbers are extremely important, especially with more platforms being included in the calculation of Billboard chart positions, such as Audiomack, streaming isn't the only way to have a lasting, profitable music career. For instance, most streaming platforms pay about one cent or less per stream; therefore, for 1,000,000 streams on a record, you can expect about $10,000 or less. That figure isn't bad if several records a year are released with a million or more streams and views. However, most artists aren't reaching that milestone; thus, begging the question, what's there to do to line the pockets? 

The answer is simple: sync licensing, live and virtual shows, brand partnerships, merchandise, and songwriting and producing. 

Sync licensing 

Sync licensing refers to the use of music in television, movies, video games, advertisements, apps, etc. Essentially, it refers to wherever music and moving images are used concurrently. Once a song is licensed for synchronization, a fee is paid to the writer or composer of the musical composition and a fee is also paid to the owner of the recording. Aside from the revenue derived, it also provides great exposure. 

There are various ways to pitch your music to be licensed. One way is to go through a music publisher. Music publishers will help get you sync deals, but will take a percentage for every placement. Another way to get your music licensed is to contact music supervisors and music libraries directly. Certain websites aid in providing real-time updates on music supervisors, and what and when shows, movies, etc. are looking for music, so you can pitch your music yourself. Lastly, there are sites that offer free and premium options for acting as the middle man to pitch your music to numerous sync opportunities. 

Related: 10 Essential Tips for a Long and Lucrative Music Career

Live and virtual shows

When many musicians or music professionals think about booking a show, they only think about tours or major festivals. However, there many benefits of doing local gigs and concerts. There are many pop-up festivals, annual festivals, block parties, events, etc. that should be viewed as untapped potential. The events or festivals may not even be geared to music per se, but what's ubiquitous is that there tend to be some music acts performing. It behooves you to reach out and see if they need acts to perform. It also helps to network and establish a connection with the organizers. Additionally, there are websites that help to find gigs. Doing smaller gigs helps to practice, gain extra revenue and enhances your chances of booking bigger shows and venues. 

Aside from in-person gigs, virtual shows and festivals have been paying off. Especially with the looming pandemic, virtual events have more and more become the norm. Certain sites livestream paid performances by musicians. Music artists have readily been doing virtual shows and getting paid by viewers through sites like Twitch and YouTube, which are great for hosting the shows and allow artists to have greater control of the content that is put out. Virtual shows tap into the market of people that are still not comfortable being in crowded areas, and help to reach and connect with old and new fans. 

Related: How NFTs Are Set to Disrupt the Music Industry

Brand partnerships

Partnering with brands can be tough, but it is definitely doable. There are tons of brands out there looking for ways to expand and grow. Lots of companies will pay big bucks to get an artist to push their products or merely mention their products. Many of those companies will have an alternative option of brand ambassadorship. As a brand ambassador, you get a percentage of the profits of the products that you help sell.

Brand partnerships are easier to get if one has a sizeable social-media following, so grow your network before reaching out. However, there are numerous companies looking for nano, micro and macro influencers to promote their brand. Identify the brands that fall in line with your brand and target those. 

Merchandise 

Although the apparel industry is generally very competitive, selling merchandise is a lot easier. Whenever a new song or album is coming out, you should be looking to update and sell merchandise. The idea is to keep merchandise fresh and current. Whether it be using a popular lyric from your song or simply cover artwork, it is important to flood the market with your products. The concept of 1,000 true fans can be applied to merchandise. For instance, if you built a dedicated fanbase of simply 1,000 people, and you had each of those 1,000 people purchase $50 or $100 worth of merchandise, you just made yourself a smooth $50,000 or $100,000.

Most are hesitant to create and sell merchandise because of the hurdle of putting money down to have the merchandise manufactured. However, there are many print-on-demand sites that do the grunt work of manufacturing for you, so you do not have to put thousands of dollars down, and you never run out of supply. 

Applying the brand-ambassador tip from above to your own merchandise, you can help further elevate your brand. Some websites help streamline brand-ambassador programs for you. 

Related: These 6 Types of Music Are Known to Dramatically Improve Productivity

Songwriting and producing 

Writing songs and producing beats can be very lucrative. Many singers and music artists need someone to write songs for them or need assistance in the writing process. Additionally, artists are constantly looking for session musicians, which are musicians or vocalists hired specifically for a particular recording session or live performance. There are various sites that help connect music artists with songwriters, session musicians, etc. 

Even more than the need for songwriting, music artists readily need producers and sound engineers. Excellent producers and sound engineers aren't a dime a dozen, so if you are able to produce music and/or mix and master songs, then there is a good amount of money that can be garnered. Quite a few webites offer excellent services to showcase your beats and sell and license those beats for different price ranges. If you are just starting out, it may be beneficial to continue to perfect your craft and maybe sign up for a MasterClass to gain more knowledge and skills. 

Pro tip: Do register with a performance-rights organization such as BMI, ASCAP or SESAC. Do register with SoundExchange and always copyright your music.

Meikhel Philogene

Written By

Entrepreneur Leadership Network Contributor

Meikhel Philogene is an attorney and entrepreneur. He is the founder and CEO of the artist-management and public-relations company M.E.I. Recordings. He is also the founder and CEO of the clothing brand Psalm Infinity.