The Seattle Office of Film + Music took a look at the annual revenue of up-and-coming fulltime local musicians and how they do it. Three musicians, each from different genres, opened up their 2012 financial records. "It was important for us to find musicians who modeled a middle class living," said James Keblas, the Director for the Office of Film + Music. "We are trying to show that this kind of a living can be done without having to be rockstar."
From the financial analysis, six primary areas were identified which bring most musicians income. While the percentages varied, the categories held true. The musicians also shared tips on how to find success in each category:
1. Licensing and Publishing - Companies, TV, Film, Commercials buy your music. Tip: Send out a monthly digital newsletter of your music to music supervisors with new songs ready for licensing.
2. Music Sales - CDs, downloads, streaming. Tip: You and your fans give away one free song on social media platforms to hook folks to buy more songs.
3. Merchandise Sales - T-Shirts, branded band-aids, condoms. Tip: You will increase merchandise sales by over 50% if you're sitting at the table where the goods are being sold.
4. Live Performances - Concerts and touring. Tip: Don't dismiss the earning potential of busking. Musicians at Sea-Tac Airport and the Pike Place Market are averaging over $100/hour in tips.
5. Studio Work - Film & video game music, back up musician. Tip: Make friends with people in the tech world who need music scored for game or app development.
6. Instruction - Teach others music. Tip: Do group lessons and get the biggest paycheck for your time.
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"It's clear that if you want to make it as a musician, you need to have a business strategy for a majority of these revenue streams, if not all of them. No one said it was easy, but if you have the musical skills and the perseverance, you can do it."