Aaaah the life of a modern day musician. You create and record original songs, design cover art, burn CDs or order them from a pressing company, design merchandise, put your music up on a distribution platform, and make hundreds of thousands of dollars each year. Well…everything may be true for you except for the last part.
Musicians of yester-year are used to the line of thinking that involves them selling one product – their music. Not only just selling music, but doing gigs to support that music, designing their merchandise around the music, and promoting to their fans – you guessed it – the music.
Musicians of the now, however, are quickly finding out that music shouldn’t (and can’t) be the only product they promote and sell. Instead, they’re promoting and selling a “brand” and putting their music as a product within that brand. The brilliance to this is that artists who practice this method get more mileage out of their music, can sell other “brand exclusive” products in addition, and create a core fan base that aren’t just fans of their music – but also what that artist eats, wears, uses, etc. on a daily basis. Their fans are invested in a “brand” lifestyle (that could potentially last a lifetime); not just a one-time purchase of a music product.
Pink has Covergirl. 50 Cent has Vitamin Water, “Formula 50”. Dr. Dre has beats by dre. What do you have? What is your brand product line as a musician?
It doesn’t have to be a “product” either (per say). You can promote a favorite store, clothing line, anything – as long as it fits into your overall brand.
50 Cent fans don’t buy “Formula 50” just because it tastes good; there’s 50’s brand associated with it. It’s his face they see in the commercials and billboard ads. They want to use what 50 Cent uses, and as a result, 50 Cent has made more money through the Vitamin Water partnership than his actual music sales!
So what are some ways a musician can take advantage of venture opportunities and make multiple streams of income?
First you have to grasp a bit about what types of ventures exist for a mainstream musician. There are three common types, (and one not-so-common):
Partnership – 50 Cent partnering with Vitamin Water. This is a brand partnership (and in the case of “beats by dre”, an actual stake in the partnering company). 50 Cent gets nothing from each bottle sold, but rather the lump share of bottles sold, in exchange for his brand usage.
Endorsement – 50 Cent getting free products in exchange for his brand usage. Similar brand usage in ads, commercials, etc. 50 still gets nothing from any bottles sold, just the product itself to promote.
Sponsorship – 50 Cent getting paid for endorsing and promoting product in exchange for brand usage (in ads, commercials, etc.). Still nothing from any bottles sold.
Lifestyle Merchandising (& Branding) – 50 Cent getting paid for promoting the Vitamin Water product, and a handful of others, getting paid per item/product sold, and gaining more core and devoted fans in exchange for brand usage.
The first three are available to any musician at any level of their career; depending on the company and product brand they chose. (i.e. A downtown Kansas local band shouldn’t go after Pepsi as their first choice. They should look to their local area instead). The fourth is only available to what are called UnLabel Owners.
What are UnLabel Owners?
Alternative label business owners.
The short definition: Independent musicians utilizing a turnkey system to build their music career, independent from a major label (hence the name UnLabel).
More on that topic at another time. For this post’s purposes, however, you just need to get down the basics. So, you have four options at your disposal.
As an UnLabel Owner, you have an advantage over the other three because you earn per item sold.
So lets say…
You have your own social shopping site. You have exclusive products only available from your site, and you also have a special “bank” that accrues points (similar to a rewards program like Capital One Rewards®, or the idea of “cashback” that’s become so popular recently) for the products sold through your site. You promote a product and a fan buys it from your custom shopping site. Since you’re a ULO, you get paid twice for the same sale.
So not only do you get paid per item, but you get paid twice.
Once for the actual sale of the product, and once for the points attached to that product.
Not only do you get paid, but your fan gets paid too – in the form of cash back.
Sidebar: Cashback is simply someone getting paid for something they purchased in the form of actual dollars.
So back to the original title of this article, “Multiple Streams of Music Income”. How does this all translate into multiple?
You sell a product through your site. The fan earns cashback and you earn points and retail for the sale of the product. That friend tells another friend. They buy a product. You earn points and retail, the fan earns the original cashback from buying the product and an additional cashback percentage for referring someone else. A fellow bandmate asks you how you’re making so much cash? You say you’re an UnLabel Owner. They want to join. You bring them into your UnLabel business as a partner. (Typically, this is where things get icky in the business world. However, in this world, we made it easy. You get 100% of your partner’s efforts). So now, not only are you getting paid for your own efforts (and the efforts of your fanbase/”core” fans), but you’re also getting 100% credit for your bandmate’s retail and points, and their “core” fans who purchase from their social shopping site. Add in what you’re already doing as a musician – promoting your brand to your fanbase via social sites, putting on stellar performances, and creating custom branded merchandise, and you’ve got multiple streams of income.
Did you get all that?
To put it in more music world terms:
Dr. Dre starts a label.
He signs Eminem.
Eminem starts his own label.
He signs 50 Cent.
50 Cent starts his own label.
He signs The Game.
The only problem with this scenario is that there’s a mish mosh of splits and percentages mixed in the middle, and the major label above Dr. Dre is the real one that makes out in the end.
In the UnLabel model, Dr. Dre gets 100% of Eminem’s efforts, 50 Cents, and The Game’s, and those collective points add up to even more cash. There is no top, and there is no bottom.
It’s a revolutionary concept (see that article here) and most musicians are still stuck in the music mindset, not the branding one. However, if you feel that your music is worth more than a one-off purchase, and you have what it takes to be a real, live music business owner, check out the UnLabel system.
Ask yourself: Is what I’m doing working?
Contact your closest Certified Artist Developer, or contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information on the UnLabel business and commission plan. You can also view this video for an UnLabel Overview by Conquer Entertainment Field Development Executive, Kirk Aidoo (email@example.com).