We get artists all the time wanting to know how to make a living as a musician. Yes, streaming drastically cuts an artist’s income. Harvard Law calls it “piracy plain and simple.” But you have heard the expression there is more than one way to “skin a cat”. The same goes for you, making a living as an artist.
Let’s begin with music licensing. There is money to be made licensing your music with thousands of licensing companies in the world and each company having different contacts. We suggest you contact all these licensing companies and sign as many non- exclusive agreements as you can. This increases your chances of being placed.
Then there is touring and merchandise sales. We get asked all the time, ”How do I tour”? You probably have a hard enough time getting decent paying gigs in your own hometown. “How do I successfully tour Europe or the UK or somewhere that no one knows me”? The answer is, you don’t . You have to get heard by people where you want to tour. You ask, “how do I do that? Radio is still the best way to get heard.
Say your music is playing in Warsaw Poland and you are in the top 40 playlists on major stations in that city. Radio wants advertising and does advertising for venues in their area. You pick up the phone and call those stations you are playing on and ask for their sales dept. Sales is more than happy to answer or return your call.
You tell them you are playing on their station and you plan on being in their town. You want to partner with station XYZ there. The station calls their advertising venues and tells them you are in rotation on their station and you are coming to town and want to play their venue. The venue most likely will hire you and advertise your upcoming show with that radio station. You get the gig, radio gets the venues advertising and you play to a full house. Everyone wins.
These gigs are called anchor dates. Then you reach out to surrounding areas and do the same thing. This will expand your reach and give you a route. Once you establish a route you can go back a few times a year successfully. If you’re playing on the radio in that town you are a star and will draw a audience. You blow the audience away with your performance, you are asked to return again. You do this with enough towns and stations you now have a route where you can tour 2 to 3 times a year. As time goes on your route expands. No, you’re not going to be Taylor Swift but you will be known and be able to make a good living with your music and merchandise sales.
Start with these tips and you’ll be on your way to understanding how to make a living as a musician!