6 Major Streams Of Income Every Musician Must Consider

In the last couple of days I have had to write about musicians, their craft and how they can money off their sweat and in this particular article, I intend to enumerate some financial streams musicians must consider in these modern times.

Note that, this is based on my working experience in the showbiz industry for almost a decade and from pieces I’ve read about the business side to the show. I would also make references to some inputs made by Ghanaian rap artist Okyeame Kwame during a radio interview I once had with him.

By the way, my name is NY DJ, a radio presenter, DJ and of course owner of the website (www.nydjlive.com) from which you are reading this. (That’s just for those who do not know.)

Anyway, have you ever wondered how your favourite musician makes all the money he does? I dare say the only ones you are so much aware of are performances and sales.

Well, there are other avenues to rake in some money.

Yes, in Ghana, you can only think of performances as the major source of income since majority of fans would not spend a cedi to buy a single record, not to talk of an album. In fact, bootlegging is the order of the day.

Born in a country where A-List artists can hardly make $300 annually from royalties, what else do you expect?

Now let me head straight to the revenue streams musicians must consider.

1. Shows and Performances

Just like I did mention in my introduction, one of the major streams of revenue for most musicians around the world is through booked appearances, shows and performances.

With A list artists such as Shatta Wale, Sarkodie, Amakye Dede and a few others charging as much as GHC70,000 for a single show, it is worth mentioning that, most musicians in Ghana and elsewhere in the world rake in more money through performances at various events and concerts.

Let’s not also forget most artists do embark on tours after the release of their albums. This also brings in huge sums of cash. Sadly for most Ghanaian musicians, releasing an album seems good enough for them as they go to rest after the album release.

2. Streaming Service

Unlike previous years when music lovers either walked to or queued in front of various CD sales outlets to buy albums of their favourite artists, technology has taken over and the earlier, musicians got their music on the available digital platforms where they could make from streams and purchases, the better.

Back in the 90’s and early 2000’s, most music lovers walked to Despite Shops in Accra/Kumasi or Owoahene Music Shops to purchase but sorry to say, these shops do not exist anymore. Some have also been turned into other business ventures.

Some of the most popular streaming platforms available to musicians all over the world include Apple Music, Tidal, Spotify, Pandora, Google Play Music, Soundcloud, Amazon etc.

3. Endorsements/ Brand Ambassadorial Roles

It is gradually becoming eminent that musicians identify themselves with brands immediately after discovering their target audience.

A musician who has no idea what his target audience is as good as lost. I mean how do you make your music. It is understandable music knows no boundaries and limits but that does not prevent musicians from identifying themselves with a sect. That’s a sad one but that’s the harsh reality.

All over the world, one major stream of revenue for most musicians aside performances and shows is brand ambassadorial jobs. Although they may come with its own restrictions, you are at liberty to also make demands since both parties (musician and product/brand) need each other.

4. Merchandise

Has it ever crossed your mind that you could make some cool cash out of merchandising? Well, many Ghanaians have tried and failed. It’s either their stock of merchandise are not patronized or shops fold up after the first stock of merchandise are sold.

In Ghana, reference can be made to BET Award nominees Sarkodie and D Black who could not sustain their merchandise shops after a period of time.

This, however does not prevent any artist from looking at attractive ways of selling their merchandise. Look smart, identify your target, consider their purchasing power and give them exactly what they want.

5. Sync Licensing

Do you a number of advertisers are using your music for free in their radio and TV commercials? As ignorant as a number of people I have approached for using my client’s music may seem, they feel using an artist’s music for a radio or TV commercial rather helps promote the artist. I mean, who will on any occasion just pick any song for a commercial simply because he wants to promote the artist? Unless of course, you are the artist manager.

In Ghana, reference can be made to the battle between BET Award nominee D-Black and telecom operating service Vodafone in which an undisclosed amount was awarded the musician after the company used his song for a commercial without his permission.

6. YouTube Monetization

Often, most musicians don’t consider YouTube to be a revenue-generating outlet although it has quickly become one of the most popular outlets for discovering and listening to music in the world. As at December 2014, YouTube established the following records.

  • More than 1 billion unique users visit YouTube each month
  • Over 6 billion hours of video are watched each month on YouTube – that’s almost an hour for every person on Earth
  • 100 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube every minute
  • 80% of YouTube traffic comes from outside the US
  • YouTube is localized in 61 countries and across 61 languages
  • According to Nielsen, YouTube reaches more US adults ages 18-34 than any cable network
  • Millions of subscriptions happen each day. The number of people subscribing daily is up more than 3x since last year, and the number of daily subscriptions is up more than 4x since last year.

With these crazy statistics they have on their site, and tell me what musician or record label shouldn’t be part of this ever-growing community:

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