Diversifying Your Music-Related Incomes

© 2009 Vinny RibasEnough money

There’s no question that it is hard to make enough money to survive on just from gigs – especially when you’re just starting out. It’s also true that it may take a while to bring in a sizable income from selling your songs online. So what should an indie artist do?

The answer lies in the widespread secret that all wise business owners know and take advantage of – Diversified Revenue Streams. In plain English, it means that your money comes from multiple sources, not just one. Together, those various income streams add up to the at least or not more than the amount you need to live and operate comfortably.

Think about all of the places that you hear music every day. It’s hard to turn around anywhere without hearing either live or recorded songs in some form or another – in stores, on TV, in films, in restaurants, in video games, in ringtones, in products (music boxes, musical dolls, children’s toys, door bells etc), in school, in a play, on the radio, in commercials, during a magic show etc. The list is endless.

Now think about all of the ways that that you can get paid for your musical talent. Some examples are performing at your own gigs, backing another singer or musician, playing background music at a restaurant, singing at a wedding ceremony, performing on other people’s demos and/or recordings, teaching private lessons or in a school, singing on or writing commercials, singing the ‘demo lead’ on karaoke CDs, playing in or conducting an orchestra, writing film scores etc. This list is also only limited by your creativity.

Make a list of your strongest talents, and then take notice of the many ways in which those talents can be used. Then start doing research on how to make inroads into the various areas that can help you bring in income.

Keep in mind that, in order to ensure having a continuous stream of income, your money should come in a balance of various forms:

  1.  Cold hard cash – the money that you make each time you get paid for a gig, sell a CD etc.
  2. Future money – money that is due to come in at some point in the future. An example of this would be a songwriting royalty from getting a major cut.
  3. Mailbox money – ongoing income that you work only once for, such as money that you receive from licensing your master recording to be used in a product.
  4. Marketing income – unpaid musical efforts that you do for sheer mass exposure. This replaces cold hard cash that you would otherwise spend on marketing. An example would be performing at a high profile charity benefit.
  5. Barter income – goods or services that you receive in exchange for your musical talents. An example would be bartering to sing on demos for a producer in exchange for future studio time.

By creating multiple streams of income, you minimize the risk of not having any income should one income stream slow down or dry up. And by generating future revenues that you do the work for now, you ensure having an adequate cash flow, even if a gig cancels or you get sick and can’t perform for a few weeks.



About The Author

Vinny Ribas

Vinny Ribas is the founder and CEO of Indie Connect, an artist management, consulting and training company. The company also hosts networking and educational events and has published an app that connects people to the Nashville Music Industry. During his 40+ year career, Vinny has been a full time musician, artist manager, booking agent, songwriter, studio owner, producer and the Entertainment Director for the NV State Fair. He has also coached over 1000 artists and songwriters. He is a sought after speaker and has authored over 400 music industry articles. Vinny is also the CEO of Top 4M Entertainment, an independent film and television production company.