Making money as a songwriter can be super easy to extremely challenging depending on your approach. In this article, I'll go over a couple different methods that you songwriters can utilize to achieve your goals!
The first thing we really need to figure out is, what are your goals? What is a realistic amount of money that you expect to earn out the gate? An extra $500 per month, $1,000, maybe even $2,000? How much time do you want to put towards your goal? Do you enjoy being a workaholic, or would you rather have more time for you family and friends? These are the first questions that you need to ask before you start working on your strategy.
If you're a recording artist who wishes to make money from selling their own music, you could use digital distribution platforms such as iTunes, Spotify, Google Music etc. Let's actually start with digital distribution and then we'll continue to introduce additional options available to us further on in this article.
According to the RIAA via Digital Music News, Spotify pays artists around $7.50 per 1,000 plays. So let's think about this. Instead of uploading all of your music for free on SoundCloud, YouTube, Audiomack etc. why not try to monetize your creation? You may have over 100,000 plays on your un-monetized SoundCloud page but how much money could you have potentially earned if you shifted your efforts to another streaming service like Spotify? With 100,000 plays and those statistics from the RIAA you would have earned around $750, which may not seem like much but it's a lot better than zero.
The benefit of streaming your music on platforms that pay you as an artist is that you can set better goals that will allow you to gain more freedom as you progress through your music career. Sure, your goal may be to get 3,000 un-monetized SoundCloud plays on your song by next week but how can that feed you? Remember, your objective is to make money as a songwriter, you're no longer looking to create music as a hobby, you've leveled up.
The problem that a lot of new artists have with digital distribution is that it costs money, and many artists simply don't have the budget or enough knowledge on how to utilize these systems in order to make progress in their music career. Here's the good news, investing in digital distribution doesn't need to be costly or stressful. There are platforms like RouteNote which distribute your music for free while only taking 15% of your revenue and DistroKid which only charges $19.99 per year! Now, even if you went with DistroKid, that works out to $1.67 per month which I'm sure most of us can afford with some budgeting.
So digital distribution is one way you can make some money as a songwriter, but what if you wanted to write music for other people, how could you make money doing that?
The same approach can be taken when writing music for other people as well. Before doing so, you want to make sure you're registered with a Performance Rights Organization (PRO) so you can collect royalties for every song you create. Even when you're releasing your own music on Spotify, iTunes etc. you want to make sure that you're registered with a PRO. If you're making consistent hits for people and not collect any royalties as the songwriter then you're throwing a whole lot of money away! Many songwriters also offer a flat fee to actually begin the songwriting process to ensure that their work isn't stolen upon completion.
You also want to make sure that you have some form of contractual or verbal agreement with the artist to confirm either of your terms and conditions, which may consist of a non-disclosure agreement, the amount of time needed to complete the project, and a specified amount of included revisions etc. You want your client to feel as comfortable as possible when using your services.
Some great websites to get paid writing music for others are Fiverr, SoundBetter and AirGigs. None of these sites have a monthly fee, they just take a percentage of your revenue when you make a sale. I started with Fiverr in February of this year and I've received a variety of clients from all over the world. I've written lyrics for kids songs, fundraisers, diss tracks, club songs, lyrical hip hop, R&B, Drum & Bass, and much more. Writing music for clients can actually increase your skill set because a lot of the time you'll be working with styles that are different than what you're used to!
So, to sum everything up, you can utilize so many different tools online to start earning money as a songwriter. Most of the tools I suggested are free so there's really no excuse! You just need to pay close attention to your competition and ask yourself if you can do what they do but better. You can use these methods I've suggested above but if you're not differentiating your product and your overall artist brand enough you may have some difficulty seeing fast results. I'll touch on product differentiation and different marketing strategies in a future article.
If you have any questions about this article or want more in depth information on how to make money as a songwriter feel free to contact me anytime!
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