Over the last three weeks I have given an overview of some of the main areas to consider if you want to make some hard earned dosh from your beloved songs. If you’re reading this for the first time check out my page on this site to read more.
By now I am sure you are aware that to make any money out of the music industry it’s not just about selling records, live or royalties. It is a combination of many things – multiple, micro businesses all linked in together and a lot of hard work. Timing is crucial so check out this if you haven’t already. Aside from the usual suspects there are several other areas that you can explore.
It’s most certainly not a new concept but is definitely a good one. Whether it’s a T-Shirt, badge, poster or signed copy of your music transcribed these are all things you can make available to your fan base. You have spent so much time building your identity as an artist into, dare I say it, a brand, this can provide many opportunities. You don’t have to look far to see artists putting their name to clothing ranges to know what I mean. I know this isn’t for everybody and the music should definitely come first but here are some ideas and places that I’ve happily used to make them:
T-Shirts – Sandbag
Badges – Badge For Bands
Screen Printing for Posters and Limited edition artwork – Print Club London
Guitar Picks – The 15 day turnaround is optimistic at best. Allow a month – My Badges
Oobah from my grey horse modelling the latest in this season’s most desirable merch and some Ambiguous Records picks
Otherwise known as sync or synch, this is the business of putting music to picture. This could be in advertising, computer games, TV, film or even a corporate video. People talk about this like it is the holy grail of the music business. Don’t get me wrong the possibility of earning £200K for a film is pretty exciting but I urge you to put that out of your head and concentrate on the smaller fish. Typical offers that might come through are £500 for a tiny independent film, £2K for backing music for a trade show, £20K for an ad. Fees depend on how well known you are, the budget and how wide the usage will be. Some might argue that putting your music to an ad is selling out and some might say it is a promotional opportunity with a brand that you feel strongly supports your personal view. At the end of the day it’s your choice whether and what you pitch for but please don’t under value your music. TV in the UK often works under a blanket agreement between the broadcasters and the royalty collecting societies (see here if you don’t know about them) so you don’t need to negotiate.
Things to know…
Look out for the terms of the contract. They could be anything from one month in a specific territory (that’s a country) for a three minute track to worldwide in perpetuity for 30 seconds of a song. In perpetuity means the license lasts FOR EVER.
Sync involves both publishing and master rights, often referred to as ‘sides’. When a song is used BOTH sides need to be cleared so if you own your publishing and your recordings you can do this easily. If you don’t and you are pitching make sure you can get to the person(s) who can clear whichever side you don’t own because if you don’t it’ll piss people off if you’ve said yes and then have to retract. The fee is spilt 50/50 per side and there are also potential performance royalties to be had for any broadcasts containing your songs.
Imagine this. You are a music supervisor and you’ve just put a call for a song for the next film you’re working on. You’ve received tons of great songs, you’ve dumped them in iTunes and it looks like this.
No brainer really. Add metadata to your songs including contact details. You can do this in iTunes by filling in the fields in the song information box.
Who do I approach?
Sync is all about relationships and staggeringly good and appropriate music. So don’t send your death metal track in for an R&B pitch. Scattergun is definitely NOT the right approach here. I reckon work hard with a few contacts and listen carefully to how they would like you to send them music. It could be via yousendit, their own dropbox, Soundcloud or even the good old CD. There are various people and companies that you can approach. Music supervisors and editors work on specific projects and choose music for that project. Agencies source music for their clients that could include music supervisors. Big publishers can pitch direct. However companies can take a cut of fees, anything from 10% up so look out for where your percentages are going. Here are some companies to check out:
There are many, get googling…
I could go on for a long time about this. If you use your imagination there are so many opportunities – fan affiliated sales, licensing your recordings, ad support, patronage, sponsorship and not least what is known as karma. If you are a good force in the industry simply adding a ‘donate to my music making’ Paypal button on your site may provoke a response. If you can offer something to other artists, why not add a ‘buy me a beer button’ as a way of saying thanks?! Or you could try the likes of Pledge Music to attract investors and fans on presale.
I know this is not the most glamorous of headings but remember if you are earning money from your music, you have to pay tax on it. This means you either have to register with HMRC as Self Employed or if you’re going the label route it would be advisable to set up a limited company. You can do this at Companies House or get a company to do it for you that costs about £100. If you are a limited company you will need to pay corporation tax.
VAT – The Threshold is currently £73,000 gross. So if you’re making that, firstly, well done and secondly, register for VAT!
So that just about wraps up this introduction into the main areas you can look at to start making a return on your music. If you want to read more of this sort of thing check out my other articles here.