Category: Streaming Music

YouTube – How To Make It Work For You

By NationWide Source Estimated reading time: 6 minutes

Three Steps To Improve Performance

This feels like old news, but it’s possible you haven’t heard. If you’re not leveraging YouTube to your advantage, you have a gap in your approach to music sales. Maybe you don’t want to make a living from your music or you love your day job. That’s fine. You can probably stop reading this now. Or maybe you already have hundreds of thousands of subscribers. Millions, even. You too may stop reading this. If neither of these exceptions apply to you, then settle in. Let’s talk The YouTube. *wink*

You live in a wondrous time! Just look at the Internet. It’s an amazing resource to the independent artist and band. The thing is you’re busy – out there pounding the pavement, rocking various houses night after night. But, ask any wildly successful artist. To make that dollar, you’re going to have to spend time, both on and off the stage to develop your fan base. (Unless you’re posting your performances. Then bully to you!) And in this day in which we live it’s now easier than ever to reach untapped fans via YouTube.

But first, the bad news: You won’t make any livable wage monetizing YouTube videos until you start raking in views in the hundreds of millions. Some sources report that YouTube pays $.0003 per play. This means that in order for you to pull in minimum wage you would have to have views in the tens of millions, depending on your state’s minimum wage. So that’s the bummer. But, the good news is that you don’t have to rely solely on monetization to make YouTube work for you. There are lots of examples of bands and artists (and puppeteers and style gurus and… you get the idea) who have used streaming video to get their names out there and launch their careers onto other more lucrative platforms. Remember, if you’re trying to make a living from you music, you’re not just a musician. You’re in music business. Time to get savvy. Here are a few ways to yield desirable results from YouTube.

Invite your viewers to take it to the next level and subscribe.

Make no mistake. Gathering subscribers is important. Create your channel, make delightful viewing material and call your viewers to action by encouraging them to subscribe. (Just don’t expect to make noticeable amounts of money directly from YouTube doing this.) You have to say the words too. Here’s why: In most cases, people hear about a great video. They go watch the video. They move on with their day. The end. Don’t let this be your viewers. At the end of your video, thank them for watching and then say, “subscribe!” It’s that simple. You could add a please for good measure. Or confetti. Do you, but say the words.

Invite them to your website so they can buy your stuff.

Every subscriber you procure is now your fan. They have taken time to subscribe and this means they like you. Congratulations! Now it’s time to tell them how they can listen to your awesome music wherever they go, by driving them to your website or digital storefront to buy tracks they can’t get on YouTube. You may want to incentify people to subscribe by giving them a coupon code to save a dollar off your album (which is sold only on your website or Amazon, right?). Or maybe YouTube subscribers get access to extra video content or mp3 tracks that your average schmo can’t get. Hock your interesting and hilarious t-shirts and bumper stickers by sending these captive fans to your shop. Your subscribers will not necessarily arrive at the brilliant decision to visit your website. You must invite them to do so.

Make lots of interesting content. Lots!

Here’s the deal. There are many reasons to have a prolific amount of content. One of the reasons is this: the more you’re out there, the more you increase your chances of getting subscribers. You’ll reach people you wouldn’t normally have access to through other outlets – especially younger music fans. YouTube is the most listened to music platform. The most! Gathering more fans from the juggernaut of all music conduits can help you completely bypass a music label – like so many other successful musicians have – and allow you to do music on your own terms. Or maybe you want a music contract. Perfect! Having a huge number of subscribers can only help your cause. Having a large subscriber following also means drawing the attention of potential sponsors. YouTubers who have been successful at accumulating lots of subscribers have definitely grabbed the attention of sponsors. These sponsors can pay thousands of dollars for one video that includes a mention or placement of their product. This is not a farfetched pipe-dream, either. Sponsors are well within reach. It’s hard work, of course. Nothing worth doing will ever come easy. (Sorry.) But, the rewards include garnering a larger fan base and getting to make a living from your music and videos.

So now that you know why tons of content is a must, let’s talk about what you should post. Your video subject matter should be as diverse as you and you’re music, but you don’t have to over think everything you post. Sometimes these videos are just something fun – a day-in-the-life bit or a tutorial of some kind. I can hear some of your eyes rolling right now as you read this. This may feel beneath you or pandering, even. But, try to keep an open mind about this. It’s not selling out. You’re not giving into the man. You’re dominating various digital avenues so that they work for you. Think groceries and rent – and beyond! You’re not giving in. You’re making the Internet your bitch. So get creative. By all means, post your music and your shows and your time in the studio. But, also keep in mind that people will be endeared to you by getting to see behind the proverbial curtain a bit. Talk to your fans and let them see your fun side. Cover your favorite popular songs. Reveal to them your stupid human trick. Do skits. Get viewers to vote on which guitar strap or pair of skinny jeans you’ll wear at your next performance. Video your band’s trust exercises or day of water skiing. Whatever. You’re imaginative. Just give the fans what they want and make lots and lots of content.

There’s another perk of posting tons of videos. If you haven’t created a YouTube channel or your haven’t been posting very much, creating a lot of content will also help fast track the process of gathering subscribers and getting noticed by sponsors. And bonus, the more momentum you pick up, the more monetizing your content will pay. Again, not lucrative amounts, but it’s better than nothing.

It’s time – your time. Start using YouTube like the music business tool it is.

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Sustainable Streaming- How Indpedendent Artists Can Actually Get Paid

By NationWide Source Estimated reading time: 5 minutes

Sustainable streaming.

Sounds like a dream world, right? A magical place where artists would get fairly compensated for their creations.

Almost everyone in the music industry will admit that the current way that streaming music is set up is unsustainable for artists, labels (both major and independent), and even for the streaming services themselves (Spotify has yet to make a profit).

Despite these flaws, streaming music has become the normal way we consume music.

There is no perfect fix for streaming but Sharkey Laguana, a musician and entrepreneur, is trying to start a royalty revolution. We recently read a blog he posted about a protest called Silent September, and we think he’s on to something great.

But before we look at how to change streaming royalties, we have to understand how they are currently paid.

The Big Pool vs. Subscriber Share

Currently, streaming royalties are given to rights holders based on their percentage of all the plays on a service. This means that even if you never listen to Justin Bieber, he is still getting a hefty percentage of the total royalties a streaming service makes because he pulls in more listeners than your average independent musician.

This is the Big Pool system. It works great if you are an artist on a major record label who is getting millions of plays.

It doesn’t work so well for indie artists. You might have a good-sized fan base who listens to your music on streaming services, but if you’re not getting a half million plays, you aren’t significantly affecting the Big Pool percentages.This is why streaming income for independent artists is so low.

This is where subscriber share comes in. Subscriber share simply means that royalty payments are based on how much each individual user listens to a particular artist. Though not currently used by most streaming services, it has the potential to more fairly distribute income across the music industry.

Spotify takes 70% of its profits and pays them out as royalties for artists. This means that if you are a premium subscriber at $10 per month, $7 out of the $10 you give to Spotify are going to musicians.This is not a bad or unfair percentage. The problem with streaming royalties comes from the ways these payments are given out in the current Big Pool system.

For example, in the Big Pool system,if I am a premium subscriber and never once listen to Nicki Minaj, she is still getting a hefty percentage of the money I pay to Spotify because she makes up a large percentage of plays on Spotify.

However, if streaming services moved to subscriber share, and I listened to Odeza 15% of the time and Nicki 0% of the time, Odeza gets $1.05 out of my $7, and Nicki Minaj gets none.

Of course,this doesn’t mean that major artists won’t get paid. They will still get the money from the millions of plays they are currently getting. If Nicki makes up 35% of what another premium user listens to, she will get $2.45 out of the total $7.

What subscriber share means is that all artists get compensated fairly for their music. In the subscriber share system, when a music fan consistently listens to an indie artist they love, that artist will get paid fairly for the amount of time users are spending listening to their music.

Spotify loses no money in this system, major labels don’t lose, and indies don’t lose.

Time for Streaming to Make The Switch

The main problem is implementation. Spotify is not going to completely overhaul their entire system if they don’t have a reason to. This is where Silent September comes in.

Spotify needs a push from major players in order to switch their infrastructure. (We’re looking at you, Taylor!) This means that the 3 major labels need to be on board. This means that independent musicians need to shake up the majors and get them to pay attention.

We need to shift the percentages.

The best way to shift the Big Pool percentages is to listen to truly independent artists on whatever platform you normally listen on. But it’s going to take a lot of plays.

So when you aren’t actively listening to music, simply turn down the volume, but keep the music playing (this is where the “silent” in Silent September comes from).

If enough people are playing independent artists in the background, we can shift the percentages and make the majors take notice.

Silent September

This September is a great time for this protest, because the 3 major labels’ contracts with Spotify expire in October of 2015. If we can make them take notice before they re-sign contracts, we can help be the catalyst for change.

Silent September is a simple way to help make a difference in the lives–and the wallets–of independent musicians.

The originator of Silent September, Sharkey Laguana, wrote a more in-depth article on Silent September, and exactly how streaming royalties work, which you can read here. If you have a few more questions, check out the FAQ here.

If you would like to participate in Silent September with us, we have created a playlist of completely independent musicians in our local area who deserve your support. We will be adding playlists regularly of great independent music, so be sure to subscribe to our Spotify account and follow us on Twitter to stay updated!

If you are an independent musician and would like to be featured on our playlist, you can tweet at us, or comment below!

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Get Your Music on iTunes and Spotify: Digital Distribution with ONErpm

By NationWide Source Estimated reading time: 6 minutes

When it comes to digitally distributing your music, there are options galore. From the heavyweights like CD Baby and The Orchard, to smaller companies like Mondotunes, you have options, and can pick the distribution company that is exactly right for you.

In this article we are going to take a look at ONErpm. ONEprm is a digital distribution service based in Brooklyn, NY, with offices in Brazil, and a new office opening in Nashville. They are an iTunes preferred partner, as well as one of the largest multi-channel networks on YouTube. They have quite a few options for independent musicians and labels that distribute through them, and we’re going to give you the run down of their most notable features.  Lets look at what your options are if you choose ONEprm as your digital distributor.


ONEprm has 2 main pricing options. But a great feature of ONErpm is their free distribution service.

  • Premium Package-a one time fee of $40 per album, or $15 per single. With the Premium Package, they also take a 15% cut of royalties.
  • Arena Package– an annual fee of $30 per album, or $15 per single. You get to keep 100% of your royalties (besides Youtube, but we’ll get into that later).
  • Free Option– ONErpm also has a free distribution tier. This option will distribute your music to Spotify, Rdio, Deezer and more. If you choose the free option, you can still opt-in to other  stores, you just have to pay a small fee per store. Adding an album to iTunes is only $5, and since ONErpm is a preferred partner, your music could go live in less than 48 hours. This is a really cool option for a single that you only want to release in limited formats, or if you are using streaming services as a marketing tool instead of a distributor.

ONErpm Pricing

All major retailers are included in ONErpm’s digital distribution, although you will have to pay extra for ringtone stores and services like Shazam.

ONErpm Stores
Digital Distribution Options on ONErpm

ONErpm’s services will cover all your basic digital distribution needs, but ONErpm stands out with a few features that aren’t offered on other digital distribution platforms.

YouTube Certified

One of the major advantages of digitally distributing with ONErpm is their relationship with YouTube. Right now, YouTube is the number one music streaming service in the world, and their music infrastructure is only set to grow. ONErpm is a YouTube certified company, and they have one of the largest multi-channel networks in the world. A multi-channel network, or MCN, is simply a company that works with channel owners to effectively monetize their channel, provide digital rights management, funding, and audience management.

When you distribute your music through ONErpm, you have the option to distribute to YouTube. This doesn’t mean that your music automatically get uploaded onto a YouTube channel, it simply means that ONErpm  enters your music into YouTube’s ContentID. When your music is identified in YouTube’s system, you can manage how your music is being used. This means that when people use your songs in their videos, or even re-upload a video that you created, you can locate those videos, and either issue a take-down notice, or file a claim to receive revenue on that video.

ONErpm’s unique connection to YouTube can also help you get extra revenue from your own videos, since ONErpm works directly with advertisers to negotiate a higher ad rate for their channels. They will also help you optimize your YouTube channel for monetization.

ONErpm Youtube

Being a part of ONErpm’s MCN is free and open to any YouTube creator, even if you aren’t a musician, or don’t choose to distribute your music through ONErpm. A nice bonus if you live in the NYC area is that ONErpm has a video production studio that you have free access to as a member of their MCN.

A downside to ONErpm’s YouTube services is that ONErpm takes a 30% cut of all revenue generated from YouTube. However,  it may be worth it to let ONErpm handle your YouTube revenue if the money you gain from their higher ad prices equals out the 30% you pay them for managing your account.

If YouTube is an important part of your music, and you’re interested in joining an MCN, ONErpm might be the best distributing option for you. Neither Tunecore or CD Baby offer YouTube ContentID tracking, and they don’t have an MCN.

Marketing Resources

ONErpm also has several marketing options for artists. Their basic package includes social media management, verified profiles on streaming services, and email marketing. You can also upgrade to their specialized marketing services.

ONErpm Marketing

Much like CD Baby, fans can also go directly to your profile on ONErpm’s website and download music there. ONErpm has several pricing tiers, and lets you choose which one best fits you. In addition to setting your own prices for your downloads, you have the option to give away a free download in exchange for an email address. You can then download those emails and export them into whatever program you use to send email newsletters.

ONErpm also provides a free Facebook app that lets fans download music directly from your Facebook page. You can use this app to sell singles, full albums, or give away a download in exchange for an email. You can make this app the landing page for your band’s Facebook profile, and use “fan-gating” to ask users to like your page before they have the option to download your music.

ONErpm also gives you analytics, and monthly sales reports. You get paid through Paypal, and can withdraw funds whenever you like.

Screen Shot 2015-07-21 at 2.23.46 PM

Your Choice

ONErpm’s digital distribution has some great benefits, and they offer a great deal of flexibility to artists in terms of services and price points. This personalization helps makes them a good choice for indie artists.

ONErpm might be the right distributor for you if:

  • You are interested in flexible pricing options, or free distribution to streaming services
  • You would like to sell your music directly on Facebook
  • You are interested in joining a YouTube MCN, and want someone to help you monetize your YouTube account.
  • You want your distributor to give you marketing support.

As you are looking for a digital distributor, keep your individual needs in mind. With so many companies offering similar services, make sure you find the company that best fits your needs as an artist.

Have you used ONErpm? What was your experience? Let us know in the comments below!

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Apple Music Streaming: What It Means for the Independent Artist

By NationWide Source Estimated reading time: 5 minutes

Yesterday, Apple unveiled its new music streaming service. While Apple’s release of iTunes revolutionized how the world buys music, they have been slow to enter the world of streaming.

The announcement came with all the bells and whistles that normally accompany Apple’s tech releases… but, for independent musicians, the announcement likely raises more questions than it answers.

The Basics

For the new service, Apple will charge $9.99 per month for streaming and radio services. Alternatively, users can choose a family plan (for up to six people) for $14.99 a month. Apple Music streaming will offer curated playlists, radio stations, complete integration with iTunes, and a new artist-to-fan social feature called Connect.

What Will It Pay?

Noticeably absent from all information offered by Apple is the amount that Apple Music will pay artists.

Unlike other streaming platforms, there is no free tier on Apple music. This is good news for the makers of music, as it should increase the amount of money paid to rights owners. However, if the payment structure looks anything like those of Spotify or Pandora, independent musicians will still be getting the smallest piece of a very small pie. The music streaming industry as a whole is not friendly to independent musicians.

It appears that Apple Music will not be much different, despite their claims in the announcement videos to help independent musicians build sustainable careers.

Will “Connect” Actually Connect Artists and Fans?

It seems that Apple Music is trying to compete with Jay Z’s Tidal by offering fans exclusive content at no extra cost. Actually, they are offering “exclusive” content at no cost at all. Anyone— even nonmembers of the streaming service—can access the videos, pictures, and music files that artists upload. This is not good news for independent musicians.

If you are working hard to create exclusive content for your diehard fans, you should be doing it in a way that creates income for you. (Ever heard of patronage?) By making Connect available to everyone, Apple completely negated the “exclusivity” of that content. In essence, it’s the same as putting a video up on YouTube. The key difference is that this content will link directly to your music and artist profile in Apple Music. It’s an important distinction, but it’s not enough. There’s no real way for your content to work for you on Connect.

Apple also did not address royalty payments on Connect. If you upload a demo of your new single, are you being paid whenever fans listen to that demo? Or are you cutting your losses? You spend the time creating a song and recording the demo—not to mention the money you spent on the equipment to do those things—and Apple hasn’t given any indication on whether or not they are going to pay you when fans listen to your “exclusive” content.

Connect also offers nothing new in terms of fan engagement. Fans can comment on the material you upload, and you can comment back. This is exactly what is offered on Facebook and Twitter. Connect is a downgrade when you look at its social media competition (Twitter and Facebook); even Spotify allows private messaging. The only benefit in Connect is that fans don’t have to follow you to see your content and comment on it.

Independent Friendly?

Did I mention that there is a MAJOR problem for independent musicians in the very structure of Apple’s Connect? As an independent artist myself, with music currently on iTunes, I decided to claim my Artist profile on Connect. This is what I found:

Screen Shot 2015-06-09 at 9.49.00 AM

I am a fully independent artist with no management company or label. Normally, I would just submit my information the management information and leave the label portion blank, since I am not signed to any kind of label. However, there was no option to communicate that I was not affiliated at all with a record label. I was not able to push the submit button to claim my profile until I had entered information about my (nonexistent) record label.  If Apple is touting that their service is indie-friendly, requiring artists to enter their record label information in order to claim their profile is not the way to go about it.

So far, I have seen nothing about Apple Music that is truly attempting to help independent artists.

What Should Independent Artists Do?

Apple Music’s launch simply adds to the ongoing discussion about streaming and its sustainability. Streaming is great for fans of music, but is this form of music consumption beneficial to the music industry in the long run? How can artists create long-term careers when their sources of income are decreasing in number and scale?

Independent artists have to change the way they think about streaming as a whole. When you look at streaming as a revenue stream, it falls short. No one (not even Pharrell) can make a living purely from the income generated by streaming. It simply isn’t generating enough money.

However, when artists look at streaming as a marketing tool that pays them, the game changes.

If you want people to discover you using streaming services, great! Put your music on Spotify, and Pandora, and Apple Music. Just don’t add your full catalog. Let fans get a taste of your best stuff. Post on Apple’s Connect like you would any other social media tool. Just don’t let these third party websites be the primary way that you interact with and sell music to fans. There are other, better ways to connect with the people who love your music.

In the End

Is Apple streaming a game changer for the music industry? I don’t think so. At the moment, it appears to be nothing more than a company formerly on the leading edge of innovation playing catch-up. Apple Music is not going to revolutionize the music industry.

Instead, changes and revolution will come from independent artists and the choices that we make as content creators.

For more information on Apple Music, check the following websites:


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How Much Does Pandora Pay Artists?

How Much Does Pandora Pay Artists?

By NationWide Source Estimated reading time: 5 minutes

It’s probably much less than you think. And if Pandora has its way, that paycheck is about to get even smaller.

Last week, Pandora was given approval to purchase KXMZ-FM, a terrestrial radio station in Rapid City, South Dakota. They are now under a 90-day trial period before the purchase becomes final. Currently, Pandora has millions of online subscribers who create customized stations based on their own music preferences, so their purchase of a small station in a city of 60,000 people may seem like a move backwards, but it’s a strategic move by Pandora to make more money.

Unfortunately, Pandora’s move to line their pockets means a significant pay cut for the artists and songwriters who make Pandora’s business possible.

How Artists Are Paid

The ways that radio and streaming services pay artists are a complicated mess of numbers and percentages, but it all boils down to this: terrestrial radio stations pay a lower rate than internet stations to play the same songs over the internet.

With Pandora’s current rate system, if you are the writer and performer of the song, you will make about $1.30 if your song is played 1000 times. Unless you are Katy Perry or Drake, you probably won’t even make enough money to buy yourself lunch. It would take years for the average independent musician to simply break even on the costs of producing and distributing their music with the payments that are currently made for streaming music.

With their purchase of KXMZ, Pandora will be eligible for the lower rate currently available for terrestrial radio stations. This means they will be paying about a half-million dollars less in royalties to songwriters every year. Pandora’s purchase of KXMZ is great news for Pandora’s stockholders, but no matter which way you look at it, it’s bad news for the artists, performers, and musicians who make business possible for Pandora.

What This Means For Musicians and the Music Industry

In the larger view of Pandora’s profits, the reduced royalty rate is a drop in the bucket. But even a drop makes a ripple in the bigger scheme of what is currently going on in the music industry. Pandora claims that they value the artists who make their company function, but according to the American Society of Composers, Authors, and Producers (ASCAP), their purchase of KXMZ is “a transparent ploy squarely aimed at paying songwriters even less for online music streams.”

It’s worth noting that Pandora is not the first company to take advantage of this lower rate. iHeartRadio works in the same way that Pandora does, but iHeartRadio is owned by Clear Channel, an industry giant in terrestrial radio. Because of this, iHeartRadio can take advantage of the lower streaming rates. Pandora’s purchase of an FM station levels the playing field between these two competitors, and it’s likely that other internet radio and streaming services will follow in Pandora’s footsteps.

Moreover, the government is looking at decisions like this as it revises copyright laws.

We are in a crossroads in the industry. The payment system for creators is broken, and no one is completely sure when it’s going to be fixed. Though you may think Pandora’s decisions won’t affect you, a company as large as Pandora actively working to compensate creators less is something that everyone in the music industry should be concerned about. And while this change may not have a huge effect on your individual paychecks, the implications of this decision are enormous.

What You Should—and Can—Do

So if you’ve realized that you’re not going to make a million dollars on Pandora, or even enough money to pay your rent, what do you do? Should you just take your music off all streaming platforms and cut your losses?

I think there is a better way. By simply changing your perspective on streaming services, there are ways that independent musicians can make platforms like Pandora work for them.

Instead of thinking about Pandora and Spotify as distribution services, think of them as marketing tools. Listeners use streaming services to discover new music, and you don’t want to cut yourself off from those potential fans. Put a couple of your best songs up—not your entire catalogue—and use it as a way for people to discover your music. Once your music has piqued their interest, they will likely search the internet to see what else you have available.

What Else You Can Do

You’re game for using streaming and online internet to market to new audiences… but how can you turn a casual streamer into a devoted fan? You have to engage them (on your turf) with good content.

Your website is the only place online where you have complete control over what a potential fan sees. Use that control!

Design a website that reflects your music and your brand and makes it easy for your fans to be connected with you. Keep it updated with relevant news and content. Offer a free single in exchange for their email address. Show them how they can become a patron of your music. (Haven’t heard of patronage? Sign up here for more info!) Above all, do not rely on social media and third-party retailers to keep in touch with your fans.

The music industry is changing. Pandora’s purchase of a terrestrial radio station is just a small battle in the grand scheme of an entire industry that is in the process of completely renewing itself. Independent musicians are the future of that industry. Now, more than ever, you have the opportunity to take control over your career. And that is good news.

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