How do I sell original music in 2021?????

Discussion in 'Recordings [BG]' started by Coach Rich, Jun 14, 2021.

  1. Coach Rich

    Coach Rich

    Feb 23, 2014
    I recently joined a new band. It's an upstart and everything will be originals. Fortunately we live in a city where there is strong support for original local music. I haven't played in an original band in forever and it seems the playbook I'm familiar with is no longer relevant.

    Hell, it seems the playbook from just a couple years ago is irrelevant! And by that I mean the play was:
    A. Write enough original music for either an EP or LP
    B. Record said music.
    C. Press music to a CD.
    D. Have a release show and sell CDs and this show and subsequent gigs.
    E. Sell CD (or download) on the band's website as well as other sites like Band Camp and iTunes.
    F. Hope to sell enough to cover the costs. :)

    That's the play I was planning to follow but have been told by two people I respect that that's dinosaur thinking. Some of the suggestions I've been getting is:
    A. Record between 1 and 4 singles and release them one at a time over a period of time.
    B. Get the music on Spotify and Apple Music.
    C. Make downloads available for people who still buy music that way.
    D. Once we record enough music for a full album press it on vinyl. Then have a vinyl album release party. Each vinyl album comes with a digital download card that has the full album plus a couple bonus tracks. Sell album and future shows as well.

    So I'm rolling in laughter that a vinyl album is the modern way to sell new music.

    Any thoughts? Am I getting good or bad advice? Any other suggestions? Thank you!
  2. Jaycat


    Sep 8, 2018
    If you want to earn something like .0002 cents per download, by all means, get your stuff on Spotify.
  3. DirtDog


    Jun 7, 2002
    The Deep North
    Diversify. Streaming, licensing, royalty-free, libraries, placement in TV, movies, videogames. Cross promotion on multiple platforms - e.g., get yourself on Tiny Desk/KEXP and so on.

    I have no data on this, but I'd think releasing as you go is as current as it gets. You don't see Taylor Swift waiting for an album's worth of material....

    That said, nothing wrong with doing it the old-fashioned way if that suits you better. Just don't expect to hit big right the old story of the overnight success twenty years in the making.
    fhm555, InnerCityBass and The Owl like this.
  4. MartinB


    Jun 7, 2017
    Birmingham, UK
    Sounds about right. Spotify is about getting heard and shared, not getting paid - make sure you offer lossless downloads and merch for the folks who want to give you money, but aren't interested in vinyl.
  5. bass12

    bass12 Grace under pressure Supporting Member

    Jun 8, 2008
    Montreal, Canada
    Rule no. 1: don’t expect to sell your music.
    Rule no. 2: be surprised and delighted if anyone is willing to take your music free of charge. :D

    Is the vinyl thing still even happening? If it is then I certainly wouldn’t expect that trend to last much longer than it already has.

    At this point I see the release of music as little more than a labour of love (unless you have major label backing). Have fun but don’t expect anything in return.
  6. knumbskull


    Jul 28, 2007
    Bandcamp is pretty good.
    5aP, erratick, D.A.R.K. and 6 others like this.
  7. MrLenny1


    Jan 17, 2009
    New England
    The artist I work for released a CD 3 years ago that cost
    him $25,000. Nashville Studio musicians, Very good sound quality. Since then the only
    money he has made is CD sales at shows and a few downloads
    on Spotify. He has yet to recoup his $25K. Releasing vinyl albums would be a waste IMHO.
    No one buys music never mind a hard copy like CD/Albums.
  8. friskinator

    friskinator Supporting Member

    Apr 5, 2007
    If no one is willing to download or stream the music for free, then no one is ever going to buy it. You may as well light a pile of money on fire instead of pressing CDs.
  9. Zak TMD

    Zak TMD

    Apr 22, 2016
    Outside of the heart of darkness, Washington, DC
    Breaking even is the new making money.
    Original music rule since the mid 00's - assuming you record
    1 - the Music video is an ad for the album
    2 - the album is an ad for the show
    3 - the show is an ad for the shirt
    4 - this is it right here: The shirt is where you make money.

    With the advent of spotify and other streaming platforms this has changed a little bit, but still T-shirts are the way. The big issue is in a sea of endless bands, how does an original artist get their music heard? That's a tougher challenge. The big fact is that rock and roll (and other subforms of the genre) are not as popular as they once were. Sure, people LOVE to go see a cover band play their favorite hits from the last bunch of decades, or maybe that band that was huge back then that's doing a reunion thing, but today it is much more difficult to get and grow a real fanbase. Sure, some bands have tens of thousands of followers on the various social media platforms, but often these are not indicative of their real fanbase. Occasionally, getting noticed by some of the publications (genre specific - decibel, Brookyln Vegan, etc) will help bump that up.

    I've seen folks so vinyl can't last much longer than it has for over a decade now. Vinyl is ALMOST* the only worthy medium to produce physically. People buy vinyl at shows. People buy vinyl at independent music stores (see RECORD shop). Vinyl is doing so well in sales right now that production facilities have been backed up for years. The Hardtimes (a punk/hc/metal) parody site actively represses old records and they sell out.

    *I said almost because there is a small niche market of people who love to buy / collect tapes. Our most recent record we did a little collectors tape thing.
  10. make an NFT
  11. Pirate Captain

    Pirate Captain Elitist Jazz Snob ********

    Dec 22, 2016
    Upstate, NY USA
    you aren't going to make any money on the music. Even decent sized names don't make money that way. The music is a loss leader. Ticket sales and merch (maybe patreon)...vinyl counts as "merch" because people collect and trade it. stick a "limited to x number of copies" on it, even better.
    obimark, lfmn16 and DirtDog like this.
  12. Pirate Captain

    Pirate Captain Elitist Jazz Snob ********

    Dec 22, 2016
    Upstate, NY USA
    plus, vinyl is the only one that will last. Cassettes were the most fragile medium ever. I've got CDs from the 90s already delaminating (and that's going to happen to all of them eventually)...I've got jazz vinyl from the 50s that sounds like it was just pressed
  13. Videos / YouTube / Tik Toc

    Streaming audio on as many platforms as you can.

    Hopefully songs get placed on TV or video games.

    Be ready to tour with great merch.

    But honestly if you figure it out, post back here and tell us what you did!
  14. lucas303

    lucas303 Supporting Member

    Mar 11, 2019
    Vinyl is still very much happening, and vinyl is the physical medium of choice. Like it or not (I'm not a fan of vinyl FWIW), vinyl is the modern physical format in the sense that most people buying physical copies of music now are buying it on vinyl. Whether that trend will last, I don't know. But don't kid yourself there is certainly money to be made in selling vinyl.
  15. lucas303

    lucas303 Supporting Member

    Mar 11, 2019
    Vinyl degrades every time it's played...and even when it's brand new it's lower fidelity than CDs. Saying vinyl is the only format that will last is a joke.
    MartinB, vinlander, osv and 3 others like this.
  16. MCS4

    MCS4 Supporting Member

    Sep 26, 2012
    Fort Lauderdale, FL
    This is still pretty much what my main band does, although we do also put our music on streaming services. Probably 80% or more of our sales of actual music still consist of selling physical media (CD's etc.) at shows, and most of the rest comes from CD orders from friends, family, or existing fans who snag a new release once it becomes available. Only a very small percentage comes from sales of digital media (primarily Bandcamp). In either event, we definitely do not expect to make a net profit on sales of music alone, but rather use it to generate revenues for the next recording or to fund other new merch that might be able to sell at higher margins.

    We exclusively release music through EPs and still think it is the way to go for a small local act, as it gives something to sell at a relatively low price point if someone comes to a show and wants to support us. At this point we have multiple EPs available, if someone wants to spend a little more and get a full album's worth of music or more. I am hesitant to try releasing songs as singles, other than maybe once or twice just for variety, as it would not be worth the cost for us to print any media to sell a single, and why would anyone spend worthwhile money on it when they can spend a handful of bucks and get an EP?

    In my opinion, vinyl is only worthwhile if you already have a big enough following to predict that there will be enough people willing to pay for higher-priced merchandise.
  17. Ostie


    Aug 1, 2018
    Mid MI
    How to become a millionaire as a musician:
    1. Buy lottery tickets
    2. Win $1,000,000
    3. Keep playing until it’s gone
  18. Lesfunk

    Lesfunk Bootlegger guitars : S.I.T. Strings Supporting Member

    Apr 5, 2007
    Florida USA
    Start with 2 million..
    spatters, JRA, TheMaynorD and 9 others like this.
  19. Just have your own actual website and sell downloads and streams, that cut's out the middle layer of the streamers.
  20. 40Hz

    40Hz Supporting Member

    The only people I know who are currently making any real money from their music are sync licensing it for commercial, movie, and game use.
  21. Primary

    Primary TB Assistant

    Here are some related products that TB members are talking about. Clicking on a product will take you to TB’s partner, Primary, where you can find links to TB discussions about these products.

    Jul 27, 2021

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