How Musicians (Used To) Make Money
The time tested model of income (or potential income) for a musician at any level has been the same for 50 years whether it's a popular Top 40 charting artist or the guy playing for tips at a smoky bar to 4 people on the bad side of town.
1. Concerts 60%
Roshambeaux- Lynch's Jacksonville, FL
(We can't wait to see you guys again!)
As performers or entertainers it's easy to understand that the most money you'll make comes from, well... performing and entertaining. That's why most artists try to hit the road as soon as their new album is released. The idea that an artist can get a song on the radio and sit back and collect fat royalty checks until they write their next hit is a nice thought but it's at best an exaggeration. Even if that were the case (Here's looking at you Rembrandts!), imagine the direct difference just a few sold out arena shows, for even just, a week would mean for that artist. It's the same metric for the guy that gets one week of airplay on an am college station and makes $0.04 in royalties; He'd definitely make at least a few bucks busking on the street next to a local cafe. The bottom line is that any musician will make the most money actually playing for people.
2. Merch 25%
Limited sizes available at roshambeauxmusic.com/shop
If you've ever talked to an artist agent or artist manager you've probably heard the phrase, "Tees and Tours." Merchandise is that little extra that can make or break a successful tour. As we've said, lots of tour plans just plan to break even after agent fees, hotels, food, gas and advertisement so a lot of times the actual artist's paycheck can heavily rely on selling tee shirts after the show. We're not saying it's impossible to tour without merch and still make a living but having a good stock of things that help people take the experience home with them makes a huge difference on whether or not being a musician is sustainable in the long run.
3. Licencing 10%
The next time you watch a show on Netflix try closing your eyes and to pay attention to how much music is in any given episode of your favorite show. Typically those shows entered an agreement with the musician. The deals range from flat initial buys to very small percentages of what the episode generates in the long run. There are plenty of artists that make a full time living off licensing but the model still stands. Artists will make a lot more playing that song for a crowd of people at a show. Sometimes just one show, two or three if you got a sweet deal.
4. Royalties 1-5%
Our Royalty Report (page 1) from May 2020
The word "royalties" is kind of laughable. The idea that that's what will make you live like the King of Spain is in just one word: WRONG. In the old days radio might pay an artist $0.03-05 (on the high end) per play. With the advent of streaming services that number has gone down to $0.00069 for basic subscribers and $0.00084 for paid subscribers. So if an artist goes viral with a million plays in 2020, they'll get a check for $690. That being said, if you're getting a million plays on your single you should probably book a tour. You'll easily make that in a night.
So... What Do We Do Now?
Lots of musicians are setting up monthly donation tiers with perks for for their supporters ranging from simple shout outs, discounts on merch and of course music. It's definitely challenging but we've been personally blown away by the support of our own "Roshamfam" as we call them (or Roshambros/Roshambabes? Let us know?). It's challenging moving from performing more or less the same show in a different city every night for a year or two until the next album comes out to coming up with fresh content every month. Writers block has always been stressful but now it's a lot more "in your face." However, in a small way it lets us focus on the things we promised ourselves we've never let go of: Creating. We're heavy into putting on the finishing touches on what will be our second EP for this year with plans for at least one more and a full album as well. It used to be that an artist would release one project every two or three years. Now it seems like we'll be releasing two or three per year. The pressure is a little scary but luckily we've been into things that are a little scary anyway (just watch our music videos on YouTube HERE).
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If you enjoy what we do and find even a little value in it please consider donating $1, $2, $5, $10, $20 or more and become a part of our creation process. Here's last week's new supporters.
David M, Nancy B, Steve B, Christene W, Rane D, Christine D, Bill & Elena H, Nick R & Colby W.
Thank you guys SO much! We couldn't keep going without you!
Even though we're still not able to get back on the road we've been lucky to get to see y'all on our weekly Vlogcast live on Facebook. Be sure to tune in tonight 5/20/20 at 8pm. It's so much fun getting to hang out with you!
We're planning on doing another Full Show live stream on Friday 5/29/20. Look for an official announcement next week! If you haven't gotten a chance to see the last one, you can watch it now below.
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Patreon is membership platform that provides business tools for creators to run a subscription based content service. It allows creators to and artists to earn monthly income by providing exclusive rewards and perks to their subscribers or "patrons." One of our favorite artists that uses Patreon is Otis Grey. You can check out his page Sleepy on Spotify. Otis uses his ridiculously calming voice to read old books in the public domain to help you fall asleep each night. His patrons receive exclusive poetry readings every month and new subscribers' names are featured on new episodes of Sleepy.
We're excited to announce our launch of Patreon in the coming weeks! We'll have a few different tiers of exclusive content so be sure to follow us if you haven't already. If you have a favorite Patreon Artist give them a shout out in the comments!
All Photos by Roshambeaux
Additional Photo Credits
billboard.com - Corona Virus Cancellations Expose Vulnerability of Touring
Netflix- Netflix Logo
Patreon- Patreon Logo
Otis Grey- Sleepy Podcast on Spotify