How do bands of today make money? - Cherrypick Entertainment
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How do bands of today make money?

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INSIGHTS

  • Indie rock bands are in strong demand for non-traditional gigs such as parties, weddings and corporate events.
  • Indie rock bands should focus on income and longevity, rather than assuming that fame will automatically lead to fortune.
  • Promotion and merchandising are important factors to ensure a steady income and a constant supply of gigs for indie rock bands.

NON-TRADITIONAL GIGS (E.G. WEDDINGS)

According to Bandzoogle, a band website company, "Nontraditional gigs expand your opportunities and can help you turn your passion into a career." They recognise that most musicians don't "have birthday parties, singing telegrams, fundraisers, and other nontraditional gigs in mind" when they start in the industry, but list several benefits to doing so.

"Perhaps the biggest benefit of nontraditional gigs is the possibility of creating a sustainable living" with options such as "birthday parties, weddings, corporate events, and private parties". According to Bandzoogle, "By being willing to perform at a variety of events, you will work more often, continually reach more clients, and do more of what you love."

Other fringe benefits of these types of gigs are the opportunity to "grow as a performer", since "nontraditional gigs [force] you out of your comfort zone", and to "be deeply appreciated" by an audience who has "chosen you to create a wonderful memory for them".

wedding band hire cork

Professional wedding band hire, Cork

And if bands are prone to believe the "unfortunate stereotypes surrounding wedding bands", they should think again, according to DIY Musician. Those hiring bands for wedding gigs (and other non-traditional events) "want to hire unique and dynamic entertainers – the type that will make all of their friends jealous." They list good pay and a guaranteed audience as some of the benefits of this type of work.

As an example of the kind of money that can be made from this type of gig - and therefore the opportunity to keep the band going - I have included a link to Bands for Hire, which lists prices from £900 to over £2000 for indie rock bands to be hired for events.

PROMOTION

It's important to "find a way to sell yourselves" as an indie band. This involves "putting together a demo of your music and bio for your band designed to make venues and event organisers want to book you." Promotion is important, and should include "sending an individual email to each potential venue in your area, with a link to your music and a paragraph or two about you". Additionally, "playing in the support slot of a similar genre band" can introduce you to a new audience.

FAME VS CAREER LONGEVITY

According to Tom Hess, a successful touring guitarist and recording artist, musicians should avoid assuming "that being famous helps them make more money in the music industry". Instead, bands should understand "the difference between fame and financial success" in order to "stay focused on [their] most important goals".

MERCHANDISING

Worth mentioning as a option, since it is so often recommended as an income stream, is merchandising, so long as it's done right. According to financial website The Balance, "Diversifying what you have to sell will boost your earning potential." However, they warn against expensive options, instead focusing on making "your own t-shirts, buttons and badges, stickers and other merch" which you can then sell "at your shows and on your website". They note that "after your fans have just seen you play and are all caught up in the spirit" can often be the best moment to sell them related merchandise.

YouBloom, meanwhile, warns against relying on digital downloads, which "are a volume game", and also would steer bands against pushing their own CDs to an audience who "would rather stream your music for free online". However, they do recommend more creative merchandising, which if it consists "of fun, creative, cool, cute, sexy or weird stuff, you have yourself a novelty, and novelties almost always sell well."

LICENSING

YouBloom points out that "companies who want to use your music in a film, video game, television show, or commercials will pay big bucks to license it." They recommend that "networking with people who work with production studios will certainly help your chances, and so will making your music readily available for stream." However, they recognise that "the budget of the production and your intrinsic level of value as a musician" will affect the price, which could range from "$20 to $200,000".

MULTIPLE INCOME STREAMS

Tom Hess recognises that "Most musicians go into the music business looking for a job. They plan to make money through a single source of income, such as performing or recording music." However, building multiple sources of income "makes your career a lot more secure". It's therefore important, rather than focusing on one option for making money, to ensure that multiple options are exploited.

CONCLUSION

To wrap it up, for modern indie rock bands with some success to ensure an income and industry longevity they must diversify their income streams and look at "non-traditional" gigs, such as weddings and corporate events. They should also ensure that they have a solid means of promotion and should consider merchandising as a strong option.

About the Author Ed McCarthy

Ed McCarthy is the manager and promoter of j90. Ireland’s favourite and most in demand party band. With over 10 years experience Ed founded Cherrypick Entertainment, an agency to cherry-pick and prepare the best bands in Ireland to be better and offer more.

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