In this piece, the people at Disc Makers break down the multitude of ways in which artists can earn revenue from just a single song, via the fans and musicians seeking access to source tracks, samples, stems, and more.
Guest post by Randy Chertkow and Jason Feehan from the Disc Makers Blog
Your one song can create dozens of hidden revenue streams. Make more income from the fans and musicians who want access to your source tracks, stems, sounds, and more.
Think about all the work that went into recording your latest song: there are a ton of components that make up the final track. For example, a single song might have dozens of individual instrument tracks, tweaked virtual synth sounds and effect chains, original beats, and even original samples you created specifically for the song.
All of these components come together to create your final mix, and once you master and distribute the final tracks to music distribution platforms, you can make money from your sales, streaming, and royalties.
But why stop there?
There are dozens more potential revenue streams hidden in that track you created. Music is unique when it comes to making money: almost all aspects of the production process can be sold or licensed to increase more music income.
We’ve broken this down to three things to make it easy to remember: products, by-products, and process extras. Here’s how to make more income from them.
Multiple products and revenue streams from one track
Your final track is not one product. It’s actually many products which can generate multiple revenue stream categories.
- Sell or stream your music via digital distribution. The place to start is to use digital distributors like CD Baby to release your music worldwide. This is the key step since it’s the primary way your fans can buy, stream, and enjoy your music.
- Collect royalties when your music is performed or streamed. By registering your music with royalty organizations or using services like CD Baby Pro Publishing, you can get paid for all the work you do to get your track played on the radio, streamed, and performed. This can bring in royalty income from dozens of sources worldwide. Don’t discount the international nature of this — it’s surprising how often music gets popular in different corners of the world, even if you haven’t toured there.
- Sell hi-def/high-quality digital versions of a single track. Some of your audiophile fans might want hi-def or high-quality versions of your music, and you shouldn’t disappoint them. You can make WAV, FLAC, or lossless tracks available using digital storefronts like Shopify, SquareSpace, Payloadz, or other distribution platforms.
- Sell alternate versions of your music. If your song becomes popular, you can sell alternate versions of your track — sometimes at a premium. This includes remixes, demos, live recordings, making-of, and all kinds of additional takes. Besides selling these, you can also use them as crowdfunding or patronage rewards to get more income from your backers.
- Sell physical product. Physical products can make you the most margin — significantly more than digital sales and streaming alone. When you’re performing a show or holding an event, it’s the easiest way for fans to get your music and you can capture impulse buys. Consider creating products like USBs, CDs, download cards, vinyl, cassettes, and more from manufacturers and services like Disc Makers. But don’t just focus on your one track or album. Consider special or limited-edition versions, bundles (greatest hits, genre themed albums, etc.), and more.
- Licensing your music. You can also license your song and sound recording to businesses (media companies, film studios, advertisers, TV production companies, and more). This is not only a parallel revenue stream, it’s an entirely different target customer. While the best deals usually come from personal relationships with music supervisors, you can also use CD Baby’s Music Licensing Platform or put your music up on licensing libraries such as Songtradr or Music Supervisor.
Selling and licensing your track’s by-products
Your musician fans may love your sounds and want to use production elements like your stems, beats, and source tracks to remix or make their own music. A very popular song with a unique sound gives you the opportunity to let your musician fans pay to get access to the music elements and opens up entirely new sources of income, such as:
- Stems and sources tracks. Stems and source tracks are ready-made for remixers who love your song and want to make their own version or remix it. When you license these, be careful not to give away too many rights and lose the value of your own music.
- Beats. There are some musicians who make their entire living by making beats, and there are others who just do vocals on top of other people’s beats. If you have a knack for this, providing them can be a full-time job. If you’ve created some beats for a song you released, you can also license the beat out and make more money off of it.
- Samples and sounds. Not every musician has the ability to capture high-quality sounds, so if you have this studio capability, it can be a valuable by-product from your recording process. For example, some musicians capture samples from every live drum set they record in order to create virtual drum kits. If you use your imagination, nearly every sound you capture when recording a song can be used in samples that you can earn money from through licensing. Note that sounds are useful for more than music: they are also licensable as sound design snippets for videos, television, and movies. Because of this, a recording of breaking glass can be just as useful as a vocal that can be sliced into interesting bits.
- Synth presets, effects, and effect chains. Today’s studio tools are very configurable and capable of creating a vast array of sounds and effects — especially if you chain them together. You might have a knack for tweaking your synth — why not save a patch and offer it for purchase to musicians looking for a new sound?
- Licensing your by-products. When licensing of your music, music supervisors may want you to provide some of these elements listed above in addition to the full version of your song to use in their work. Movie trailer and advertising music supervisors are specifically looking for quick sound bites and you should have these ready to go to improve your chances to get licensed.
You can sell many of these “song by-products” through marketplaces like Splice, Beatport, Beatstars, and Airbit. These curated sites are picky about who they let in, so if you’d rather try to sell them yourself, you can use digital download sites like Shopify, SquareSpace, or Payloadz and sell them from your website.
Creating multiple revenue streams from your music production process
You can even make money from the recording process itself by making videos from the studio. You can do this through streaming, recorded videos, screen captures, photos, and more. These are valuable for creating behind-the-scenes products like documentaries which can open up new revenue streams, especially for those artists with a dedicated or sizable following. But don’t forget that these extras can also make excellent patronage or crowdfunding rewards that can be the perfect bait to entice people to become backers.
Capture these elements during the recording process and you can make far more income off a single track. You can make this more effective by using social media to share aspects of the production process and get your musician fans excited about what you’re doing in the studio. Then use these posts to talk about how you’re going to make the elements available for their use at the same time you get your regular music fans excited about the new tracks. If you are aware of all these revenue streams in the studio, you can run your recording process with this future income in mind.