To many up-and-coming artists, it seems like having your album hit the number one spot on iTunes would be just about the pinnacle of your career. You’d have the fame, you’d have the money, and you’d have accomplished all your goals in life. Or would you? While it’s true you would have the fame, having the money is a different matter all together. Artists would have to sell 12,399 songs per month in order to meet the income level of a minimum wage employee working full time, according to Investinganswers.com. Setting out on your own might seem like the answer, but it can be a daunting task. For those just starting out, however, it may be the only way to get your feet under you if you don’t have a record deal. Here are the top three ways you can make a profit as a musician without a record company.
Explore the Market
iTunes isn’t your only option. There are lots of ways to offer digital downloads without having to pay such enormous prices. While small bands make the most profit off of in-person purchases of physical records, digital is by far the preferred way for fans to download music. Not having a digital distributor is akin to shooting yourself in the foot. Read up on a few before you begin, and you can find one that doesn’t charge very much. It might even be able to make marketing a little bit easier for you.
Don’t Wait to Set up Merchandise
The temptation here is that you’re not popular enough or good enough with graphics to make buying merchandise worthwhile. If you had a record company, there would be slick, professional people styling you and your band into exactly what they think is going to sell. While this is comforting, it’s also a trap. When you’re on your own, you can’t wait around for someone to help you. Save up some money and hire a designer if you have to, because merchandise is not only where bands make most of their money, it’s one of the best marketing campaigns out there. Most people find out about bands through merchandise they see in person, according to smallbusinessbranding.com. You can post all the Youtube clips you want, but word of mouth (and word of shirt) is the best way to get your brand message across to the people who want to know about it. One fan wearing one of your shirts can spark dozens of conversations about you in one day. It only spreads from there.
Get Your Own Website
Touring info and online merchandise in one place? If you have your own store, you’ll be able to sell music online more than just digital downloads online. You can create a package deal where two t-shirts and a digital album download will get fans a free exclusive song, for example. Having one-stop shopping for your music and merchandise just makes sense. You can also have all your social media accounts link back to the same place with the same opportunity to buy. If you think you can get by hosting your band on a Facebook page, it’s time for an uncomfortable dose of reality. You need a site.
Marketing your own band is a big challenge, but you have more freedom than you ever would with a record label. And you can find ways to make an even greater profit on your own than you could through working with iTunes. Follow these steps, and you’ll have the basics of marketing your own band covered.