How to make a living from your music?

By Jocelyn Seilles, Founder & General Manager at Bridger

Making a living from your music is the goal of every independent artist. But it also means you’re doing a whole lot more than just making music. Independence comes with your ability to successfully change hats in real time to deal with a broad spectrum of topics: contractual matters, financial jigsaws, marketing, merch, concert planning, to name a few. So long to the musician as a pure spirit speaking to their muse only. For us simple mortals, that fantasy is not reality, and it’s probably for the better. No one wants to do just one thing, right? But amid this complexity, there are some constants that any independent artist should apply in their quest to run a sustainable music career.

Let’s get one point out of the way first: a successful music career is a successful digital music career. There is just no way around technology for an independent artist that strives to make a living with their music. With digital usage comes a technological mindset: you’re making music for your audience, and you’re making music for algorithms at the same time. The first is a given for all songwriters, the latter has to become as obvious as breathing, or your audience will not find you.

Then, if you have to choose only one thing among all your non-musical specialties as an independent, choose brand marketing. Actually, don’t just choose marketing, LOVE marketing. Develop the mechanical rhythm of exposing yourself on TikTok or the media of your choice (preferably TikTok!). It may take some time to release a real good song, but assuming it happens, and thanks to your continued efforts in building a consistent presence for both machine and men, it will pay out.

As part of your marketing efforts, don’t underestimate the power of digital music services. Streaming is now two thirds of the recorded music value worldwide. Your marketing efforts will maximize your plays, and this will become a significant source of revenue. And at this point, don’t forget that you’re a creator, that you are owed copyright royalties, and that you must be represented by a rights management organization to receive the payout that you so rightly deserve.

(…) Superficial feelings
It’s hard to take it easy
Underneath the red sun
Everything’s electric

(Liam Gallagher, Everything’s electric)

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