I say it over and over again in different conversations, lessons, videos, podcasts and interviews: “This is such a great time to be a musician.” And I truly mean it. Over any other period in history, I believe that this is the time to make a living with your music.
But Jayme, the radio is dead.
Record sales are down 70% from the year ____.
It’s impossible to get signed to a label these days!
Record labels don’t do anything for you these days!
Before DJ’s and iPods a musician could make $xxx.xx a night.
You used to have to play and instrument, now you just have to push buttons!
I know, I’ve heard em all. And I though all of them are true to an extent (minus the negative sarcasm in certain cases) I’ll still defend my statement. It’s the best time EVER to make music your livelihood. Period.
I’ve had people fly to Los Angeles from a foreign country that was 5,200 miles away to have a masterclass with me (because they enjoyed my music after discovering it on Spotify). I’ve released two EP’s and two books without spending a dime of my own money because other people were interested enough to pay for it before it was released. I’ve cut records for people from MY BEDROOM in real time while they were on the other side of the world, thanks to Skype and Pro Tools. Yea, good luck convincing anyone that any other era in music history was so fortunate.
Please don’t get me wrong. I’m not bragging, gloating or in any way/shape/form saying that you can get rich quick with music. I’m haven’t. I’m not. But I’m happy, I’m working and you can too if you want. If you’re trying to to make a living with your music, here’s some things that will make your life easier (and by default, get your content out to your audience professionally and easily). Let’s talk about some of the tools that you’ll need in order to take full advantage of this new dawn for the music industry.
For my mailing list service I use Mail Chimp. It’s like $10 a month and let’s me keep in contact with my audience whenever I have sales at The Jayme Lewis Store, new videos or lessons, or even blog posts 😉 It’s super easy to use and with one click of a button I can alert thousands of people on my mailing list and various social media platforms.
Artist Data let’s me post all of my shows once, and it automatically updates to my web site. I used to have to post all of my shows multiple times: once on my site, once on my calendar, and also text my wife so that she knew when I’d be gone. But Artist Data uses an RSS feed, so I can subscribe to it on my Google Calendar (and so can my wife) so I always know where I’m supposed to be and when. Just input the show once. Very convenient.
Bandcamp lets me allow fans to name their own price for my music. A lot of people download it for free, some pay a little, some give a lot (THANK YOU!).
Distrokid allows me to upload all of my music to every online store out there (and the streaming sites too) for $20/year. Yep. 20 bucks, and you can upload unlimited albums and singles. Pretty killer.
For creating content I use Adobe Creative Cloud. It’s $50/month and allows me access to all of their graphic, web and video creating software like Dreamweaver, Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign, After Effects and Premiere. All of my web content is put together with these programs, and you can’t beat it for the price.
I do all of my recording with Pro Tools.
These are just some of the tools I use on a daily basis to help me create content, keep my audience engaged and allow myself a sustainable income. The coolest thing is that the cost of these apps and services are very low, compared to the overhead of other types of businesses. Most of my sales are downloads (so there’s no need to keep inventory or manage the shipping department), all of the records are stored at PayPal (so there’s no real bookkeeping or inventory that needs to be done) and I just need one employee: me. There are many other fantastic tools out there to help you make your dreams a reality, and all of these things are available to you. Also, this is just accounting for the work that I do from home. It doesn’t include touring, local gigging or teaching (my other sources of income).
Like I said before, there’s no better time to be a working musician than now. What services/apps do you use to help you get the job done?