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The Definitive Guide To Making Money From Your Music

This is something I searched for hours to find when I was at the start of a music career. I was making music I loved but didn’t even have a clue how to make money from this music. So I started digging and figured out how music is making musicians money. Now I will put as much of it down on paper as I can, hoping it may help someone else.
This may be a lengthy one, as I’ve seen so many articles explaining WHAT these areas are where musicians make money, but not how to use them and get started. I’m going down a “Dummies” guide for this one, so EVERYONE can use this, not just a few people who understand the annoying technical lingo.
The areas I will cover are;

  • How to upload a track to Spotify, iTunes etc.. and get the most money from this.
  • Spotify For Artists – A Great tool for boosting your streaming royalties.
  • PRS for Music (Making money from Radio, TV, and when your music is played in venues)
  • Live Shows (Not just getting paid for them by the promoter, but PRS will pay you for them too!)

Some things to take into consideration before continuing :
* You will need to be a member of PRS for music to get the most money out of this as possible, BUT it does cost £100 to join at the time of writing. I made this money back in the first year of joining just from PRS income, so well worth it. But, if you can’t afford it at this moment, don’t worry there’s plenty of time, just do the rest of the points and come back to PRS when you’re in a better financial situation. You can join PRS here. Click next at the bottom of that page (after reading the terms and conditions, of course, and it will take you to the application form. It normally takes around 1 month from applying to being accepted, as they do this manually once you have sent back a photo of the signed form they send you, along with some form of ID. * This whole guide is based around you being an independent artist with no record label, if you are signed (even to a small record label), they may have already done a few of these things for you, so always best to double-check.

Uploading Your Track To All Major Platforms (Spotify, Apple Music etc…)

You can upload your tracks to the major platforms using what is called a music distributor (or aggregator). There are plenty of these to go with, and it will cost you a minimal amount of money with whichever you choose. The main thing here is, under no circumstances, go for one where they take a percentage of your royalties. It sounds tempting at the time to go for one of these, as they are mostly free. But with royalty percentages ranging from 10-20%, in the long run, its quite often cheaper to just pay the minimal fee. Imagine if your song got massive and you were tied to paying a distributor 20% of everything you make forever?

I have tried a few of these, and my personal favourites are :

EmuBands – One of my favourites. I have been with a few distributors and found their customer service to be atrocious, but when I first uploaded with EmuBands, they responded within 1 hour with every answer I wanted, and have been consistently great ever since. The only downside is there payment system, which is pay per release. If you have a lot of tracks to release this may not be the one for you, but overall I feel their customer service and quick uploading times make them well worth it. If you use EmuBands, please consider using my promo code, which is 55RA5UEN. I will make the tiniest bit of money from this though so keep that in mind. This is their prices :

Ditto Music – My second favourite. They are the big guns in the distribution world and have a lot of big releases under their belt. The best thing about them is their price, which is £19 a year for unlimited releases per artist. However, their customer service is sketchy at best. On average they took 1 week to respond to my simple requests, but they always got my releases out on time so I guess there’s not that much to worry about.

There are loads more distributors out there, do some digging and see if any stand out to you. They’re all very similar. Remember though, keep a watch that they say keep 100% of your royalties somewhere on their site! I would also advise leaving your release date at least a month after you upload to make sure you can make the most out of your release. As soon as you have uploaded your track via your distributor, I would also get in touch with their customer service and politely ask that they send your track to Spotify as soon as possible, so that it appears as ‘upcoming’ on your Spotify profile. This will mean you can pitch the track to Spotify Editorial Playlists (which we’ll come to in the next section).
Once you have picked your distributor, get uploading! They all differ in upload forms, so I’m not going to run through how to upload it as it’s fairly simple. Just make sure that when you get it uploaded you get a few important pieces of info as soon as it’s available :

  • ISRC Code (The code that identifies the song once it’s uploaded, every track in the world has a different code. Used for PRS registration)
  • Spotify URL & URI address of BOTH the song, and your artist page (The URL is the address you can send people to listen to the track, and the URI is the address that Spotify uses internally)

Spotify For Artists

One of the best things you can do as an artist to boost your Spotify is getting access to your Spotify For Artists Page. The most important thing is that this is where you can see insights into your listeners, playlists that have added your track and pitch your song to the Spotify Editorial Playlists.
To get your profile, and you don’t have any music live on Spotify yet, you NEED to have the URI of your Spotify Artists Page, which you can get from your distributor.
Once you have this, you can claim your Spotify Page here. Bear in mind that this can take up to 3 weeks to come through once submitted.
Once your profile has been accepted, you’ll have access to a dashboard that can tell you all sorts of insights into your audience and who’s listening to your music. The main thing you should use this for, however, is submitting your track to Spotify editorial playlists. You have to do this at least 2 weeks before your track goes live on Spotify.
To pitch your track, log in to Spotify For Artists, Go to the music tab at the top, then click ‘upcoming’ under the music headline. Once your distributor has uploaded the track to Spotify, it will appear here. Then click ‘Pitch to our editors’ next to the track and fill out the form to submit it. This will also mean it will appear in your followers Release Radar playlist on the day of release, which is always a bonus.
The best way to get noticed by Spotify Editorial playlists still seems to be to get over 1000 plays on the first day of release, so having it on playlists already is always a good way to go about this.

Getting the money from these streams/downloads

Whichever distributor you choose, you will then see your streaming & download royalties come through to the online dashboard that distributor gives you access to. There is normally a minimum cash-out amount of about £25, but after that, you’re free to get that money whenever you want it.

Summary of uploading your track to major platforms

  • Find your favourite distributor
  • Upload your release early
  • NEVER give away any royalties to distributors
  • Get access to Spotify For Artists
  • Pitch your track to Spotify Editorial Playlists

PRS For Music – Money from Broadcast, Performances and Film & TV

Once you have uploaded your track to the major platforms, the next thing you’ll want to do is register it with PRS for Music. PRS get you money for your track whenever your track is broadcast, performed, reproduced, played in public or used in film & TV. If you read the bit at the top of this guide, you’ll already be a member of PRS for Music (if not register here now!).
PLEASE NOTE: This is the task where you will need your ISRC code, which is found from your distributor.

When you first start with PRS it can seem like a daunting task, but it really doesn’t have to be. To get money for when your track is played anywhere, all you need to do is register your tracks with them, they’ll accept the submissions, and then 3 times a year you’ll get a payment straight into your bank account. Let’s walk through how to do this.

Step 1: Log in to your new PRS account, by clicking here, and then click login at the top right-hand corner.

Step 2: You’ll be greeted with your home screen, click on Register or amend works.

Step 3 : Click Register A New Work

Step 4: This will take you to the start of the register works form. Please note that this is only for 1 SONG, not an album. I’ll talk you through how to do an album at the end, but for now, continue with doing the first song on your album. Fill out all the information then click next.

Step 5: You’re onto the interested parties page. This is who you want PRS to give money to when they find the tracks been played somewhere. It will automatically add you in on top, but if there is anyone else who’s contributed to the track you need to add them as well. Be aware, that a writer in this instance means ANYONE who played on the track. You can assign a percentage of the profits to each member later. Click the ‘Add Writer’ button underneath ‘Other Writers’ to do this. In the image below you’ll see you can either search for a PRS member or if they’re not registered click “Is this a non-member?” To add their name without registration details. Once either of these is done, click done. Keep repeating this for each member of the band until you have added everyone who played.

Step 6: Assigning Percentage ‘Perf’ royalties to each member. This is where it can get heated! Decide between yourselves how you would like to split the money. Normally, it either gets split equally between everyone or the writer of the track gets 10% more the everyone else for instance. I’ll let you decide that in this example I’ve got 2 members getting 50% of the royalties each, but I’ve told PRS that I wrote the track by my role being Composer/Author. Simples.
The confusing column is the ‘Mech’ percentage column. Now, this column stands for Mechanical Royalties, which is when your track is sold as a physical product, for example as a CD. In most cases for bands using online streaming, this column can be left blank. You can assign the royalties there as well, but unless you become a member of MCPS (which is another £100) it won’t actually do anything. Mechanical Royalties normally only make you money when you’re signed to a record label, so I’m going to leave mine blank. Once you’ve completed the percentages, click next!

Step 7: Adding our ISRC code to the track on the ‘Your Usage Information’ Page.
You’ll be greeted with a page where it says ‘Are you aware of any information on this track?’. Even if you don’t know if your track being used anywhere yet, change this to yes. This will allow you to add your ISRC code, which will make it easier for PRS to find your track online.

Step 8: This will open up a drop-down menu. Fill in your Artist Name and your ISRC Code, clicking the plus next to the boxes to add it in. Then click next.
Step 9: If you want to submit multiple songs (for example if you’re registering an album), based on the information you’ve just provided, you can click Yes under the heading ‘Your Multiple Submissions’, then just click  ‘Add work’ and fill out the work title (song title), ISRC Code and duration of the new tracks you’d like to submit. This will save you filling in this whole form for each and every song on the album.
If you just want to register this one song, keep it as No and click next again. It will then show you a summary of what you’ve entered. Just click Send at the bottom of the page and you’re done! It will now be sent to PRS and should appear in your ‘My Works’ section of your PRS page in a few days. This means PRS will now be searching for anyone using your track on radio, TV, playing it in public (in pubs & clubs for instance) and you’ll get the money you are owed straight into your bank account.

Getting Money for live shows though PRS For Music

Did you know, that when you play a live show, you aren’t just entitled to money from the promoter for the live show itself, but you are also entitled to royalty money from the licence the venue pays to PRS for putting on live music in the first place? Most bands don’t realise this, and because you have to register your live shows with PRS to claim it, most bands lose out on a lot of money over the bands career.
PLEASE NOTE – You cannot backdate performances from before you were a PRS member, as they were not legally representing you then. So you can only do this for shows past when you joined PRS. Also, register all of your works with PRS as songs before moving on to this, as you need them to be registered to get paid for playing them live.
You can use your new PRS account to register all of your live shows, and PRS will start collecting this money for you. This will mean it will get paid with your royalty statement 3 times a year, which for a touring band can be quite a substantial top up.
Let’s log back into our new PRS account to register our first live show.
Step 1 : From the Main PRS account page, click Report Live Performances.

Step 2: You’ll see a new webpage opens called setlist. This is PRS’s live performance recording site. From this click the massive ‘Report A Live Performance” Button in the centre of the page.
Step 3: This is all pretty self-explanatory, but start off by inserting the date of the first live performance you want to input. This will allow you to input The venue details or search for the venue on their system. It will find the venue, and then open up a box below to add your setlist.
Step 4: This is the slightly time-consuming bit because you have to input your full setlist for the night. It says ‘Who Performed This Set List’, insert your band name here and select whether you were a Headliner or Support Act on the live date you’re reporting. Once you’ve completed this click the ‘Add Works’ button, and you’ll be able to pick the music you played from your PRS catalogue.
Step 5: Searching for your songs. You can search for your music by the Title, although there are a lot of songs registered so this may take a while to find. I would advise looking at each individual song in the PRS catalogue and finding the Tunecode, which is the code PRS use to find your song. This will make it much easier to find.

Once you’ve searched for your song, it will appear below. Then just click the Add Work next to the song you performed to add it to the setlist. Keep searching and adding until you have done every song you performed. Then click done!
Step 6: It will then take you back to a summary page, where you can check all the information you put in, and then go ahead and click submit at the bottom.

That’s it! You’ve reported a live show to PRS and they will collect the royalties you’re owed for that show, and add it to your next PRS pay check.

Getting Sync Deals

A ‘sync’ is where your music is played in the background to an advert, TV or film. This is a great way to make money from music, and the prices range massively from £100 – £10,000. There are many companies that you can sign up to who will actively pitch your song to the advert creators, but the only one I have used before is Sentric Music. You can sign up to them today, and start hearing your tracks on adverts & film, and eventually, make money from your music!. I’ll do a full post about this at some point as we don’t have the space to go into everything you’d need to know. These companies make money from taking a publishing royalty cut, but that is only from the work that they bring in. A 20% cut is about average, so make sure you’re happy with the percentage deal before signing up.

The post The Definitive Guide To Making Money From Your Music appeared first on The ReWired Project.

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Pete Jenkins
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