5 Not-So-Obvious Revenue Tips For Musicians (UPDATED)

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You’ve probably seen many lists outlining revenue opportunities. Here’s a little twist on not just learning what they are, but also how to utilize them. We present: 5 Not-So-Obvious Revenue Tips For Musicians

MASTER/SYNC LICENSES

By far, this should be the most important part of your music business plan now. In other words, this is where the real money is.

Without boring you (again) with music publishing and rights laws, here’s a basic breakdown.

If you wrote and paid to record your own music, you are the songwriter, publisher, AND label. This gives you an advantage over most majors, as they have separate labels and publishers to grant licenses for the Master and Sync rights, respectfully. You can negotiate a deal granting the Master (recording) and the Sync (underlying song) rights, all by yourself.

This is called “one-stop” or “pre-cleared” deal.

Every entertainment medium needs music: commercials, TV shows, movies, local news, web campaigns, and games. Try to start local first; find a local restaurant, car dealership, even a local filmmaker. Understand their messaging, then a pair a track with it for your pitch.

YOUTUBE MONETIZATION

I’m writing a whole eBook on this, but here are some basics.

Set up your YouTube channel to allow monetization, choose ads that are less than 30 seconds (unless trailers). Entertainment 15 second ads pay best (no skip).

Every song you have ever recorded should have at least an album cover video and a lyric video. Uploading these gets your music into the YouTube Content ID system and you will earn a percentage of the revenue share with Google on the ads.

But, the key here is to have your music available for other content creators (like your bother’s sister-in-law in her basement making fashion videos) to use simply and in a way it makes you money.

That’s right. If a complete stranger needs to use music for their video on YouTube and your music is available, it’s free for them to use, but you get paid. You must administer those rights on the platform and be a partner (which you are not). So, use Audiam or Rumblefish  (they charge a 25% admin rate off of the top). This is a little known secret, you CANNOT do this on your own, and you WILL NOT get paid if it is not administered properly.

Think outside the box here. You could use your own songs to do a tutorial lesson on bass, guitar, or vocals. You could breakdown one of your song’s structures and BOOM – another video. Add an audio track to one of your songs, explaining the life moment behind its writing.

INSTRUMENTALS

Probably the most important facet of lost musician revenue is the lack of a clean instrumental track. To effectively license music, and make sure you have as many chances as possible for uses, make sure that you have an instrumental version (no vocals) and a “TV-up version” (just background vocals – “oohs” and “ahhs”), as well as a separated vocals only track, in addition to the final master mix of the song.

So, you have 4 “songs” now: a Full Mix (regular song), Instrumental, TV Up, and Separated Vocals (a cappella).

There are countless times when a song cannot be used because of a lyric here or there, or the vocal just doesn’t hit the right emotion. Sometimes, you can get the same money for 30 seconds of the bridge without vocals as you could for the whole song. This is imperative.

SHAZAM

Shazam might be one of the most important drivers of the future of music. Industry insiders are watching these charts very closely, trust me.

Once your music is on iTunes: email [email protected] the subject line: “Shazam new artist” along with the iTunes link and this: Track artist – track title (track sub-title, if applicable) 

Do not inundate them with songs that are not available on iTunes.

UPDATE: The good folks at Shazam were kind enough to send us updated info that, actually. Be sure to use the information found on the following page instead: https://support.shazam.com/hc/en-us/articles/202604156-Submitting-songs-or-albums-to-the-Shazam-database

Now, once you’re in Shazam’s ecosystem, tag your own song and save it.

Then plan a “Shazam Party” by asking all of your fans to download Shazam (free), then play that song on their computer or stereo at a time (like Tuesday night at 7pm EST) and all of them Shazam it at once. You will hit the top of local charts and possibly larger ones. It will get you noticed and might lead to a larger licensing deal.

SOUNDEXCHANGE

You know of PROs that collect for performance royalties. But they only do that for songwriting, publishing, and composition. SE administers the statutory license for satellite radio and webcasters. They collect for the recording owner and featured artist. Think about this way, Aretha Franklin did not write “Respect,” nor did she own the publishing or the master recording. But she IS that song, plain and simple. So why shouldn’t she be paid every time that song is played? Well, that’s what SoundExchange does – only for satellite and web radio (non-interactive, like Pandora). No terrestrial (yet).

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
-Michael St. James is the founder and creative director of St. James Media, specializing in music licensing, publishing, production and artist development.

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2 Comments

  1. Timothy Palmer

    January 28, 2015 at 9:17 pm

    If you can see this comment Michael st. James I have a few questions, since I am not so familiar to the technical side of music. I am an indie artist trying to become the next Elvis Presely, John Lennon, Michael Jackson, Kurt Cobain. (You get the picture) I’m just having a little trouble with how to get myself out there or how to even know if I’m going about things the right way.

    I guess what I’m really looking for is a musical advisor of some sort, just someone who can help me take a step in the right direction. Just so I can get to where I want to be and where I deserve to be, I have the drive and the persistence. I am willing to deticate my time and my life to make it happen and I know if you heard my music, then you would know I have would it takes. You have my E-mail address so hopefully we will be in touch.

  2. JC Mantey Music

    January 30, 2015 at 5:03 pm

    Great insights you’ve there Michael, sometimes the obvious is “Not-so-obvious”

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