This is probably one of the most common questions I get asked when I talk about my website. It turns out there is not just one answer, which is definitely a good thing.
There are many different ways artists can get paid today. The most common ones are to sell their CD’s, sell their merchandise, and sell shows. But especially with the internet’s explosion, there are more ways to make money than ever. I will get to these in a minute.
First of all, selling CD’s, merch, and shows sounds easy enough, but it all requires effective promotion. This promotion can be an investment in itself. Buying magazine or radio ad space can get pretty expensive, and there’s no guarantees. Also, online promotion is pretty ineffective at allowing you to reach new people everyday. You are almost limited to the people you know.
Promotion is the key to how artists earn money, but right now the promotion available sucks! (unless you sign to a label, spend millions on billboards and tv, and end up a slave to the label for the next 10 years trying to pay everything back, while they keep your rights)
As an artist myself, I designed my website (Beat-Play - in beta this spring) to solve this problem. We utilize a social network system, similar to Twitter, but for music. People will follow others that they share a taste in music with..either friends or favorite bands, and any music that gets saved into a playlist by those people automatically gets sent to your radio player.
You press play, and the music your friends liked enough to save, comes to you. If you like it, you save it too, and it gets sent to anyone following you. It’s a ridiculously viral way to spread the good music. It is an automated word-of-mouth…and best of all, it’s free!
With this promotion it becomes infinitely easier for people to find your music, thus easier for them to buy. But with this system, CD sales, merch and shows aren’t the only revenue streams available.