Category: Music Business

PledgeMusic: Crowdfunding Your Music

Crowdfunding Your Music Project with PledgeMusic

By NationWide Source Estimated reading time: 2 minutes

Connecting directly with your fans is important. Without fan support, your band or musical venture simply is not going to make it. With fan support, though, your band has the chance to go places and achieve its goals. A clear example of this is crowdfunding, which funnels the support of your fans into raising the funds your band needs to make progress, whether it’s recording your next album or funding a tour. Services like PledgeMusic make the process of music crowdfunding even easier.

How it Works

On PledgeMusic’s website, you can create a profile for your band. Fans will use your profile to connect with you and fund your cause, so be sure to include information fans will love: your band bio, your artwork or photos, and some album tracks. Once your profile is complete, you’ll create a campaign, allowing fans to donate to your cause. Causes can include recording your music, creating a music video, or ordering albums.

There are two types of campaigns. In the first, when a fan pledges money, they receive an item in return. The larger the pledge, the better or more-inclusive their reward. Sample pledges and items include $5 for a poster, $10 for a CD, $20 for a band t-shirt, $100 for a backstage pass, and so on. In the second type of campaign, pledges are, essentially, pre-orders for your product.

Regardless of the type of campaign, you don’t receive any money until your fundraising goal is met.


PledgeMusic does not charge you to create an account or to start a pledge campaign. However, once your fundraising target is reached, the website does take a 15 percent flat fee.

Signing Up For PledgeMusic

PledgeMusic is rather straight forward. You navigate to the website, select the “Artist Sign Up” link on the left, and fill out the requested information. Include the type of campaign you want, your mailing list, and your Facebook and Twitter pages. Add any additional information to help set your product page apart; this could be photographs, album art, a video clip, etc. From here, you fill out information about your project, the pledge values and what you will give for every pledge.

Promoting Your Campaign, And Getting Help With Your Account

PledgeMusic auto integrates with your social media accounts to help you promote your campaign. Also, PledgeMusic offers a project health check to see if your campaign has room for improvement. The Frequently Asked Questions page is a great resource, and there is a realtime customer service assistance to make sure you receive the help you might require at any time.

Has your band used a crowdfunding site like PledgeMusic? What type of project were you funding? How did it go?

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Crowdfunding Your Music with Kickstarter

Crowdfunding Your Music Project with Kickstarter

By NationWide Source Estimated reading time: 2 minutes

If you’re wondering how to raise money for your next music project, and wondering if crowdfunding is an option, know this: using a Kickstarter campaign and trusting her fans to fund her project, musician Amanda Palmer raised over a million dollars. While these results are abnormal, they suggest that finding the funds for your project is feasible.

About Kickstarter Campaigns

Kickstarter campaigns are absolutely free, easy to start, and have only a few guidelines, including:

  • Projects must be related to the arts.
  • Projects must have a specific, obtainable goal with a measurable outcome. This means no fundraising to “launch my music career,” but you can fund an album production or release.
  • You can’t offer financial sharing to donors.
  • You can’t provide awards in bulk (defined as more than 10).
  • You can determine the rewards you give to your donors, but only within limits (no alcohol, GMOs, drugs, cigarettes, advice, beauty products, etc).
  • If funding goals are reached, you must complete the project or return the money to the donors.

Creating your Kickstarter Campaign

To create your project, go to and click on start new project. Create an account. Provide a project picture, description, location, and goal amount; set the number of days for pledging.

Next, determine your pledge tiers and rewards. Kickstarter suggests that you set a pledge tier that is under $20, giving people who have a little money the chance to support your project. Set a few other pledge tiers for fans that are interested in pledging more. For rewards, you can offer anything from a copy of your new album to an acoustic home concert. Set the values for the reward around the same price as they would go for in the retail marketplace.

Lastly, make it personal. Add a video to your page talking about your project or playing a song from the album you’re trying to fund.

Promote and Share

Kickstarter embeds the Facebook like button and the Twitter tweet buttons to your project’s page. While some people do browse Kickstarter looking for projects, you need to get the word out about your campaign. Send personal messages to friends, acquaintances, and interested parties. Don’t post or send too many messages, though, or you will come across as a spammy, money-hungry musician.

Additional details and answers can be found on Kickstarter’s site, especially on the Kickstarter FAQ, Kickstarter School, Guidelines, and Contact pages.

Have you used Kickstarter, either to raise money for a project or to help fund another artist’s project? How was your experience?

See also: Crowdfunding: 5 Websites for Funding Your Album Recording.

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The Price of Hits: Competing with Big Labels

The Price of Hits: How Can Independent Artists Compete with Big Labels?

By NationWide Source Estimated reading time: 2 minutes

For independent artists attempting to make it big in the music scene, there is an obvious and daunting obstacle to overcome: the music machine. In the hands of major record labels, this machine is focused on a formulaic production of art. Generally, the machine favors proven winners over cultivating new talent and focuses on safe returns on investment instead of risk-laden creativity. But, it doesn’t have to be that way.

The Music Machine’s Formula

The time, financing, and resources put up by the machine can discourage musicians just getting their footing. Some reports put total financial investments at upwards of a million dollars for just one potential hit song. That massive figure includes sourcing a team of producers, songwriters, and lyricists who collaborate on creating the songs; then, the actual recording process takes place. Once the songs are recorded, they must be distributed and marketed, which includes creating collateral material (music videos, ringtones, etc) and sending the artist on the road to promote the song and perform. Sometimes the formula works, and the song is a hit. Sometimes it doesn’t, and it’s a costly failure.

Independent Artists

As an independent artist, you may look at the machine and think there is no way to succeed against the machine. Relax. As daunting as the machine is, the music industry has never been so accessible to the average musician.

First, you don’t have to invest a million dollars to make a hit track. You do need talent, timing, and hard work; you need to think like a business. If you’re writing your own music, you don’t need to hire teams of songwriters. You might want a producer or manager for guidance. You can find good (even great) studios at a fraction of the machine’s cost, or use the many software programs and hi-def audio equipment available to record, mix, and master your own music. You can promote your band’s gigs and upcoming releases at a relatively low cost using your band’s website and the many social media platforms available. For the best impact, get your music in front of the right people as often as possible. You can also find and set up the distribution channels that best suit your band’s needs.

Second, define success for your music career. Is success making millions on each single, or is it simply sharing your passion for your music with a dedicated fan base through performances and sales of your songs? For the best results, keep making your art the priority.

How do you, as an independent artist, compete against the music industry machine? Do you think it’s possible to compete? Do you focus on putting out a record-breaking hit song, or have you defined success differently?

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Music Producers: Does Your Band Need One

Does Your Band Need A Producer?

By NationWide Source Estimated reading time: 2 minutes

When your band is looking at recording its music, there will be many factors to consider. One of the most important decisions for independent musicians to make is who participates in the process with them. Do you find a manager? What about a producer? Do you even need a producer? If you truly are an “indie band” and are self-made, the idea of getting a producer can seem a little hypocritical. On the other hand, once you’ve recorded with a producer, it can be difficult to imagine recording without one.

It is important to deliberate these issues before you begin the music recording process. As a band, you will need to make a collective decision about whether or not you’ll have a producer. If your band has been working with a manager (of any form), this person or group should probably also have a vote in the decision.

Pros and Cons of Music Producers

Many of the potential pros of working with a music producer are also potential cons.

A producer should guide your band through the recording process, maybe asking you to step outside your band’s comfort zone and try new things. This could be helpful, especially for bands unfamiliar with the recording process or uncertain of the direction they want to go. For other bands, this potential micromanagement might be frustrating, and the suggestions might push your band in a direction you don’t want to go. Be open to new ideas, but know yourself; if the results don’t fit with your band’s sound or goals, say something.

Producers can also pull strings to get you a good deal on recording time; this might mean working on their schedule or at their studio, though.

Some producers may dip their toe outside the music recording process, handling record labels, venues, contracts, and marketing. Again, this might be helpful, or it might push your band in a direction you don’t want to go. Be open, but speak up if needed.

Making The Choice

Working with a producer can open up your sound in ways you’ve never known before. This is why producers are such a vital component to the music recording process for virtually all professional bands. That said, if you decide to use a producer, make sure everyone is clear about every step of the process up front. If your band doesn’t agree with what’s happening, speak up before you sign anything… and never sign your rights away.

Has your band recorded music? Did you use a producer or go it alone? What factors led you to that decision?

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Music Licensing

The Why and How of Music Licensing

By NationWide Source Estimated reading time: 2 minutes

Your first big check as an indie musician likely won’t come from a platinum debut album. If it does, congratulations! However, you can still experience the satisfying results of getting paid for your music if you license your music properly.

Many artists shy away from the music licensing issue; it may seem a bit complex, and honestly, you’d rather work on your next great hit than rustle through paperwork. Still, it’s worth learning more about the subject so you can protect your work and reap the benefits of licensing your music.

You technically own the copyright of a song as soon as you write down the lyrics and music and/or record the song. That said, the easy access enabled by modern technology makes registering your music critical. Doing so provides grounds for defending your copyright in court if someone uses your work without permission. Registering your music also ensures that you get paid for agreed uses of your song by any radio station, television commercial, independent movie, and so on.

You can license your music through the U.S. Copyright Office by opening an account with them on their website. You then fill out a Form CO and upload your music (thus submitting it to the Library of Congress), or you can opt to mail both portions in. It takes from six months to a year for your registration to be processed, but your license holds as soon as you submit the information.

Using a performing rights organization such as BMI, ASCAP, or SESAC to license music has become increasingly popular due to their ease of use and the opportunities they offer. These organizations also take an active stance in tracking down usage of your registered works to make sure that you get paid. ASCAP charges a one-time fee while BMI does not; SESAC does not charge any fees, but you can only join by invite. Research each of these companies thoroughly before signing up with one; you can only join one.

The powers that be are making the music licensing process easier than it was before. Now that you know the benefits, put this on your “to-do in the immediate future” list. If you already knew of the benefits, hopefully now you are persuaded to stop procrastinating and start getting your just dues for your hard work.

Click here to read more about licensing and royalties.

Have you licensed your music before? If so, is there insight on the process that you’d like to share with other artists? Do you use a performing rights organization? If so, which one? Are you waiting to license your music? If so, what’s holding you back?

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Copyright Your Music: The Why and How

Copyright Your Music: The Why and How

By NationWide Source Estimated reading time: 2 minutes

So, you’d like to register your band’s songs as intellectual property? This is a good idea, especially if your songs are good enough that people might want to use (or steal) them. Copyrighting your music is a simple and effective process for protecting your babies.

Why Copyright Your Music?

The copyright on your music protects you if somebody steals your idea and passes it off as their own. Should this happen, it is your responsibility to file a law suit; you can use your copyright registration to prove that you are the intellectual owner of the music.

A Copyrighting Fairytale

There’s a fairytale about copyrighting that goes something like this: Mail a copy of the CD to yourself before it’s available to the public. Then, if copyright issues arise, you can in court submit the post office’s date stamp on the package as proof that you are the original creator… all for the cost of one stamp!

While this is certainly clever, it’s also flawed. Just because you mail something doesn’t make it yours, and it is possible that you switched the contents of the package at a later date. In short, this method is ineffective at protecting yourself. So, what can you do? Go through the official channel.

How to Copyright Music

The cost of copyrighting an entire CD through the U.S. Copyright Office is just $35 (if done electronically). Processing the copyright application online immediately creates a time stamp, and it is a faster method of registration.You can also submit your application through the mail, but you’ll have to scrape up another $30; physical applications cost $65. While this is more than the cost of a stamp, it’s still enough of a bargain that most musicians can afford to do it.

The good news is that you can copyrighting several songs in a submission, as long as they are being registered to the same individual or group of individuals. You can copyright songs individually (if you really want to, or if the members of your band want each song’s copyright registered to the individual who wrote it), but each submission costs $35. While the most cost-effective way of copyrighting music is to wait until you have several songs or a whole album ready to submit, doing so can leave your songs unprotected in the meantime.

The decisions about whether or not to copyright, and when to do so, are those you’ll have to make at some point in your music career.

Have you already done this? Did you copyright each song separately as they were ready, or did you copyright several at once? If you haven’t copyrighted your music, what is holding you back?

See also: Music and Royalties: What You Should KnowThe Why and How of Music Licensing

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Sell Your Music

Make Money Selling Your Music

By NationWide Source Estimated reading time: 2 minutes

The music industry is changing quickly and unpredictably, which leaves musicians in a familiar situation: living paycheck to paycheck. Fortunately, in the age of the internet, there are many ways to make money from your music. Follow these tips to get started:

Book Live Performances

Although there’s no such thing as a steady income for a musician, getting a regular gig is the next best thing. Finding a bar, club, restaurant, or other venue that regularly advertises live music is a reliable and surprisingly-easy way to earn money and gain new fans. Develop a press kit and email it or, better yet, hand deliver it to different venues around town. Most venue owners are primarily looking for reliable musical talent that draws a crowd. Generally, the better you are at bringing and entertaining a crowd, the better you will be paid.

Go Online

Digital services like iTunes, Spotify, and Amazon (among hundreds of others) are the new-age record stores. iTunes alone has sold over 25 billion songs. These sites are where the ever-growing computer-savvy masses browse and purchase music. Submitting your music to the dozens of online music sales platforms individually can be time consuming, but distributors can help streamline the process. Also, selling music directly from your website usually results in a higher profit margin for you.

Sidenote: listing your music on these sites doesn’t guarantee sales; you still have to get fans there.

CDs Are Still Cool

Despite the increase in streaming and digital sales, people are still buying physical CDs. They, along with other merchandise (t-shirts, posters, CDs, vinyl records) sales, are popular souvenirs for concert-goers. So, take care of business onstage, then man the merch table after the show to network with fans and sell your music.

Music Licensing

Could you imagine your original song in a video game soundtrack? Do you have a piece that would fit into a film score or television commercial? You might consider licensing, then. Nearly every industry uses music, most frequently for marketing purposes. If you have specific uses in mind, find the “music supervisor” of the show or outlet and contact them directly. Or, reach out to local advertising firms or independent filmmakers. Have a stellar 30 seconds of your selected song ready to win them over.

Keep finding places to perform your music, and keep your online presence strong on sites like Facebook, SoundCloud, and Bandcamp. If your music is impressive enough, the money will follow.

The most effective method for making music will vary for each musician. Which method works best for you?

See also: How Should I Price My Merchandise?, Finding Music Distributors

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Music Licensing and Royalties

Music and Royalties: What You Should Know

By NationWide Source Estimated reading time: 2 minutes

When Vanilla Ice ripped off the Queen/David Bowie classic “Under Pressure” for his 1990 single “Ice Ice Baby,” there was an outrage. Vanilla Ice tried to tell Queen and David Bowie that his bass line was a little bit different from theirs, but many—fellow musicians, fans, critics—disagreed. Fast forward to today, when thousands of musicians upload cover songs to YouTube. It seems that we’re constantly repeating Vanilla Ice’s mistake… but we really shouldn’t.

To avoid a similar debacle, you might want to brush up on your understanding of licensing and royalties.

Who Gets Royalties?

In terms of music licensing, the original creator is paid royalties by the person wanting to use the music. The price of using it can vary depending on the song, the creator, and the intended use.

Getting Permission

If you are considering sampling anyone else’s work, you are responsible for getting permission first. Don’t count on your lack of superstar status to protect you. If you don’t obtain permission, you can face serious trouble. There is nothing more devastating than pouring your time, money, and heart into a song only to find out that you can’t use it because you didn’t obtain permission first.

Ask the Right People

With remakes and cover versions floating around, be sure that you get permission from the original creator. Either search online or pull out the original recording’s CD/album and check the liner notes. Then, reach out to the American Society of Composers, Authors & Publishers (ASCAP) or EMI. These are two principal players in music licensing, and most professional artists work with them. These groups can tell you what’s required to get the rights to sample, cover, or otherwise use this song.

Flipping the Tables

If you have original content, you have the option of licensing it for use and being paid royalties. There are hundreds of sites that can work with you on this. American Society of Composers, Authors & Publishers (ASCAP) or EMI are both great sites to start researching this process.

Now that you know more about music licensing and royalties, head out and make your music with confidence, knowing that you’ve taken the steps to protect yourself.

Have you licensed your music for others to use? How did the process go for you? Do you have advice for those considering licensing their music? On the other side, have you paid to use someone else’s work?

See also: Copyright Your Music: The Why and How

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Increase Your Exposure: Streaming Music

By NationWide Source Estimated reading time: 2 minutes

A confession: I like physical media. I back up sessions on hard drives. I have an extensive CD collection. When I’m near a record player, you can bet it will be in use. That said, I’m not stuck in the past. I’ve grown quite fond of backing up to cloud drives, and as a consumer I often use music-streaming sites like Spotify.

As a professional artist, you have to keep up on industry trends to get your music out there. You could have the best songs and the tightest band, but if no one hears your songs, none of that will matter.

One of the biggest trends right now is streaming music. If you’re not familiar with it, here’s a quick overview:

When you sell your music, whether in physical distribution or in online sales and downloads, you get the profits and the consumer keeps the music. Streaming is different; the most common sites are closer to traditional radio play, just online and tailored to each listener. Listeners use a service, free or paid, to access the music but do not own the music. This means that they can listen to the artists and songs they like, discover related artists, retain valuable hard drive space, and not spend (much) money on music.

If you want access to these listeners, you must make your songs available on these streaming sites. On the plus side, there is usually a small amount of money paid to the you each time someone streams your song. While the profits from streaming services are not as ideal as album sales, the streaming services can offer increased exposure. As a user of streaming sites, I often check out similar artists suggested by the service. Some services automatically play similar artists. If these listeners like your music, they might regularly listen to you (more money) or might look up where to buy your music and do so (more money).

The major streaming outlets right now are Spotify, Pandora, and ReverbNation. There have been and will be others; be sure to keep updated on which is rising or falling in popularity.

If you’re still a fan of physical media and live performances like I am, that’s great. There’s still an audience for that, but it’s no longer the whole story. Now that you know about streaming music, you can decide whether or not this type of music distribution is a good fit for you.

Have you put your music on a streaming service? Has doing so resulted in increased sales or fans? Which service would you recommend?

See also: Spotify, Pandora and Streaming Music: Should You Post Your Music?, Top Five Websites for Streaming Your Music, Five Websites for Selling Your Music Online, Make Money Selling Your Music, Finding Music Distributors

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Make More Money

5 Ways to Make More Money at Your Gigs

By NationWide Source Estimated reading time: 2 minutes

Every artist actively playing gigs wants to make more money for their time. In a stiff market, though, how do you increase your profits? Focus on two things: marketing your music and your merchandise.

Music Marketing – Long Term Increase

Promote gigs to your existing fan base.

Tell them when your next show is and why they shouldn’t miss it. Tell them again. If you can bring your own crowd to shows, venue owners will soon be seeking you out. Bigger crowds mean more profits for the venue and, in the long run, for you.

Get to know your fans.

Get to know your audience on a personal level: hang around before the show and after the last set, sit down and have a drink with them, ask for their names and contact information. You don’t have to go overboard and interview everyone in attendance, but make it a goal to really meet five or ten of them. If the five fans you genuinely befriend at one gig like you and your music, you can bet they’ll gush about it to their other friends… which means more fans at your next show. Also: try to remember fans you’ve met before.

Market research: learn what your fans like.

Talk music with them and listen to what they have to say. Ask which songs they liked and what they want to hear more of (even if it’s cover songs). Ask if they’ve been to the venue before, which venues they like, how often they’ll go to concerts, how they heard about the gig. If their feedback is solid, put it to use.

Your Merchandise – Short term

Bring all your merchandise with you.

Don’t leave it at home or only sell it online. Your fans—existing and new—are HERE. Bring CDs, download cards, t-shirts, hats, key chains, lighters, stickers, ringtones, posters and more. Mention on stage that items are available, and humbly ask those fans you’re meeting if they have your CD yet. Let the entire band autograph CDs sold at shows.

Focus on quality.

Does your merch fall apart in a week or look like a 12-year-old made it? If your stuff looks cheap compared to the next band’s, your sales will probably suffer. Find a good graphic artist to create eye-catching, fashionable designs, and find quality suppliers to order from.

Your music is art, yes, but there’s also an art to the music business.

Are you struggling to make enough money from your gigs? What have you found that has helped increase your profits from gigs?

See also: 3 Ways to Market Your Next Gig, 4 Steps to Getting Better Gigs, Increase Your Merchandise Sales at Gigs, How Should I Price My Merchandise?

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