At the same time that we want to make music because it’s fun and we love it, it’s always better if we can make some money from it too, right?
5 THOUGHTS FROM ME
1. Prioritize labels that have a good presence on Streaming, especially those with support on big Podcasts. When we think about royalties, we often think about Spotify and other streaming services, but there’s a lot more options for playtime that we often forget. For example, if your song is played on SiriusXm or BBC Radio 1, your song is going to get a fee for that play that often will be more than any royalty amount you might get. Talking to some label A&R, these rates could go up to 50 USD per play in radio shows like this, so prioritizing labels that have good exposure on these shows can be a huge plus. Just to contrast this number, according to this Spotify Calculator, it could take you around 44.000 plays worldwide (on average) to get the same amount as one of these plays. In addition to that, you can also look for labels that have good relationships with big podcasts like Monstercat’s Call of The Wild, Above & Beyond’s Group Therapy, and Armin Van Buuren’s A State of Trance as these shows often will reupload your song on their playlists, which can earn you some bucks depending on the deal with the label. In addition, this last option can also give you up to 100.000 plays on a song, which could later become followers and more royalties to you. Therefore, if you’re looking to maximize your revenue, definitely do your research and favor labels that do this promotional push to you.
2. Look for labels that offer deals close to 50% of royalties and also be careful with their additional charges. When signing your song to a label, they will often offer you, at most, 50% of the royalties of the song. Each label is different, and this can be lower, depending on the label. For example, I’m on a deal with a major label in which I receive 10% of royalties only, but that’s ok to me and it all depends on what you’re looking for with that label. However, If you’re prioritizing revenue, it’s best to try to only consider labels that can offer you the most, which will be 50% of royalties. In addition to that, also be aware of the costs that you’ll have with your release as these costs are often recouped by the label before you get paid, meaning you won’t get any royalties until you have earned more than these costs. Therefore, nothing matters if you have 50% of royalties, but also have 200 USD to recoup in costs as this could require you to get at least 170.000 plays until you can even begin thinking about earning anything. Make sure to ask the label how much the costs of release are before entering a deal and try to negotiate your royalty rate. Lastly, even if you have the best deal and the lowest costs, it all depends on how well the song performs. Until you get 40-50k plays, it’s not worth worrying about royalties, so you need to also do your research if the label can achieve these numbers, or if the label gets you the podcasts/radio plays that were mentioned above if you want to maximize royalties.
3. Self-release your own songs to keep 100% of your royalties. Sometimes, keeping full control of your track can earn you a lot more than signing with any label. When you self-release your song, you’ll be able to keep almost 100% of your royalties (depending on your deal with your distributor), and that can be worth it to you if your song gets placed on a major playlist. For example, SHIKIMO, a synthwave producer friend of mine, released a song in 2020 with almost 1 million plays on Spotify. From Spotify alone, that probably got him around 2-3k USD in royalties, but it would be, at most, 1-1,5k if he released with a label. Worth it, right? Well, it all depends because you’ll be the one doing all the promotional push for this song while a label can do that for you instead. Would the song do as well if it had more investment from a label? Possibly! And that’s what you need to consider (You can read more about self-releases and if it’s right for you over here). In another example, One True God self-releases most of his songs, and he has over 1-1,5 million plays monthly, or more, which accounts for 2-4k usd monthly in royalties. It’s definitely not an easy path, but if you think this is the one for you, start releasing tracks and doing the most you can to market your song the best way possible. Not only this, but start building your promo list to send your songs to big podcasts / radio shows by yourself, as said in #1, so you can explore not only royalties, but also radio plays.
4. Use your music as a way to generate an audience for something else you offer online. Sometimes, music can be the trigger to build an audience and to then sell something even greater online. In this case, instead of pursuing your music as the ‘revenue generator’, you will pursue your music as the ‘promotional tool’ for a secondary business where you’ll earn your income from doing other activities or selling services online, like we described in this post. This will give you more creative freedom as you won’t depend on music to generate an income, and it could also create momentum for your artistry if your business takes off. If you think this is the path that you’d like to take, the key here is to start building an audience, so followers and plays are what will matter to you, regardless of the royalties, as these will make more people know about your music. Then, start creating content online that could attract people looking for your music online and that could later purchase a product or service from you.
5. Use your music as a way to attract gigs. Royalties may not be the way to go when looking for a more consistent revenue stream as this path takes a LOT of time to build, depends on multiple factors, as well as on you constantly pumping out songs. Instead, look at your songs as ways to feed your attractiveness to bookers. In this scenario, as in #4, your focus will be on monthly listeners, followers, and plays, as these could later reflect on an audience that would pay to see you perform. Mr Bill is a good example of an artist like that. Despite not having the highest numbers on streaming platforms, he was able to fully book shows on his US Tour, as mentioned in EDMProd’s podcast Episode 54, which likely got him a lot more than royalties could ever do. Even if you’re just starting out, if you take a gig for 300 usd per month, or two for 150 USD each, that’s probably a lot more than what you can make with royalties on Streaming platforms when you don’t have any major releases. This way, instead of focusing on royalties, focus on boosting your numbers legitimately (don’t buy plays) and this could convert into gigs in your future, which could be way more than any song will generate.
1 QUESTION FOR YOU
How else can you earn the most out of your songs?
1. Become an A&R at a label that you constantly release with: A&Rs normally have a special deal with labels that is beyond 50% mentioned in item #2, and sometimes even earn a percentage of the songs they bring into the label, which could make you earn more.
2. Start your own event: When you’re able to grow your own event, you’ll be able to not only grow your artistry, but also earn a lot more than just djing. And the bigger you get as an artist, the bigger the event can become, and vice-versa. Vintage Culture is a good example of an artist that catapulted his career because of his events.