Turning your behind-the-scenes work into music revenue and promotion

In this fourth part of their series on how to maximize the revenue you earn from your music, we learn how event the behind-the-scenes moments of songwriting and recording can be used to generate revenue.

Guest post by Randy Chertkow and Jason Feehan of the Disc Makers Blog

Part four of our series on maximizing music revenue with your songwriting and recording takes you behind-the-scenes to document and monetize the recording process, not just the recordings.

In our last three posts (links below), we’ve been outlining all the ways you can create new revenue streams from your songwriting and recording processes. In this post, we’re focusing on how you can let fans in behind-the-scenes as you record and monetize that access and experience.

As we talk about in our book Making Money With Music, the final track represents just one thing that can generate money for you. There are many other revenue-producing streams which naturally come out of your music-creation and recording processes. We call this technique making music with money in mind.

One of the ways to do this is by letting fans behind-the-scenes. There are many opportunities where you can capture moments which will never happen again, and your fans would love to see them. They want to be behind the scenes. Everything you do as a musician — especially in the creative process — is something of interest to those who don’t know how it’s done. As you record your next single, EP, or album, as long as you capture it, it’s something you can turn into a revenue stream.

Use this article to structure how you make music so you can make more money by letting your fans behind-the-scenes throughout the recording process. Each of the items listed below will help you make money, protect your rights, or promote you, so they are worth your time.

Capture photos during your songwriting and recording

Making Money With Music

Take pictures! Every photo you take at the time you’re recording, mixing, and mastering will become useful. Take photos of every musician, the studio, the rehearsals, the mixing board — everything. Of course, get everyone’s permission first. Tell them you may use these to market, promote, or make money for your music.

How this makes you money. This can make you money in multiple ways.

  • Photos make great patronage rewards to help keep people paying monthly.
  • You can sell your photos. For instance, if you sell your album at live events, add behind-the-scenes photos of your recording sessions to the album’s USB drive.
  • Create a behind-the-scenes book with pictures from your recording process. Add lyrics, behind-the-scenes info, and more.

How this promotes you. Use these photos for your website, social media, posters, flyers, and more. Also, some of your photos may make sense to use for your single, EP, or album as the cover.

Capture videos during your songwriting, recording, and studio process

Take video of your studio sessions, rehearsals, and songwriting sessions. This is an especially good idea if you have a well-known guest artist recording on your song, producer, guest rapper, etc.

How this makes you money. This can make you money in multiple ways.

  • Videos make great patronage rewards to help keep people paying monthly.
  • Sell these videos as extras. These are especially good as bonuses to add to a USB drive if you sell your album at live events.
  • Use them on your YouTube channel so you can share behind-the-scene videos and generate views and ad revenue.
  • You can use this footage to make a documentary.

How this promotes you. Use video clips on your website and post or link YouTube videos to your social media.

Save papers and mementos from your recording process

As you create and record your music, save lyric drafts, papers, items that inspired your music, and mementos that can be worth money afterwards. This might include lyric sheets, recording notes, or even things like the guitar strings that broke, etc. Save these items, but also document them by taking photos. We ran across this idea while attending a retrospective by Martin Atkins, talking about his time with Public Image Limited (PiL). He saved things like concert tickets which he attended at the time, doctor’s notes from when he had to go to the hospital after he got in a fight, and even things like take-out menus. He used these to weave a story about his adventures with them in a stage show.

How this makes you money.

  • Sharing these as patron-only rewards will help keep people paying monthly.
  • You can then use photos of these items for a retrospective book about your EP or album. Weave these mementos in with your lyrics and photos. Or, use them in your stage show by sharing behind-the-scenes details about the song you’re about to play, much like Martin Atkins did.
  • You can also sell these mementos as one-of-a-kind items for your whales/superfans.

How this promotes you. You can choose to share the photos of these mementos by tweeting/posting or blogging on the web or social media. Doing so gives you great behind-the-scenes info to share and helps to promote your music.

Keep a diary of your songwriting and recording process (or tweet, blog, and post on social media in real time)

By keeping a diary or journaling your songwriting and recording process, you create content that can be used in different ways. You can keep the diary personal (such as writing or sketching in a physical journal) or tweet/post to social media as things happen. This idea again came from Martin Atkins, who kept a journal during his time with PiL. This was full of interesting tidbits covering events that happened at the studio or when he was on tour. He then repurposed this material for his own stage show.

How this makes you money.

  • Sharing these as patronage rewards will help keep people paying monthly.
  • This allows you to tell even more of a story than just physical items, reminding you of the details for a retrospective book or downloadable PDF that you can sell along with mementoes, lyrics, and photos.

How this promotes you. You can choose to journal in real time by tweeting/posting or blogging on the web or social media. Doing so gives you unique, behind-the-scenes info that promotes your music.

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The time to start thinking about making money with your music begins during the songwriting and recording process. Capture these suggested items while you’re doing it to create new revenue streams and give you unique ways to promote your music. Stay tuned for the last article in this series, which will tackle more ways to make money with music.

Read the series
Making money from songwriting
How to make money from your DAW, stems, and more: Recording studio income A–Z
How to make more money from your studio recordings

Authors of the critically-acclaimed modern classic, The Indie Band Survival Guide, Billboard Magazine called Randy Chertkow and Jason Feehan “the ideal mentors for aspiring indie musicians who want to navigate an ever-changing music industry.” Their latest book, Making Money With Music (Macmillan) and free Making Money With Music Newsletter, help all musicians — from startups to pros — build a sustainable music business so you can make money in today’s tech-driven music environment.

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