TuneCore is currently the most popular way for small and independent artists to get their music into digital music stores like iTunes and Amazon, as well as streaming services like Spotify and Rdio. Distro Kid is a recent spin-off of Fandalism that may save artists some money and time with the service’s mostly automated processes. Distro Kid allows unlimited music uploads for only $19/year, with the artist keeping 100% of the royalties. As an added bonus, the service promises quick turnaround with your music hitting stores the same day (2-4 hours).
Music licensing isn’t usually an artist’s first thought, but maybe it should be. The idea of letting your music make money while potentially showing up in a mainstream movie, commercial, or some other high-profile work is an attractive one. There are a few bigger places that provide this service, but smaller, more specialized ones like The Music Bed or Jingle Punks will usually be a better place to start. Most of the smaller services do vet submissions, so there’s a chance of not making the cut, but if accepted, there’s a better chance of your music being used and actually making some money.
Teespring isn’t specific to music, but should be used by all independent artists. The T-shirt-selling site works like Kickstarter, but much easier and quicker. The user goes through a few easy decisions like what type of shirt, what color, and how much the total cost will be. Followed by either typing text on the shirt or uploading an image. Teespring lets you set a minimum number of buyers before anyone gets a shirt, and allows you to set any price and see your cut right then. Perfect for artists will little or no capital to put up for shirts they don’t know will sell.
Ironically, the basis for NoiseTrade is a place for an artist to give their music away for free. The site does employ a tip jar for fans or generous listeners to give the artist anywhere from a $1 to $1,000. An older music album might actually make more from people donating after downloading than off of sales in a digital store. The hope is also that artists will gain more fans to buy a new album or come to a show.
There are plenty of ways to still make money as a musician, but the key is being creative about it. Keep an eye on the music tech space as there’s always new sites and services looking to be a savior for the small and independent bands.
[Image: Flickr user Adam Ososki]