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How To Beat Illegal Downloads As A Musician

95% of music downloads are illegal.

The last 10 years have seen a descent into what the record labels would like to call “anarchy” online, what the file sharers would like to call “free speech” - but what we as musicians can all more or less uniformly call “not making any money.”

Or at least not making AS MUCH money. Heck, even Metallica made a noise about it, that’s gotta mean something.

Point it, after all this time, nobody seems to have a solution to the leaking bucket of the music industry.

Well, mostly. There are a group of us, who think we might be patching together a solution.

I coach indie bands on how to “build fanbases and make money” (, and a lot of people are shocked at how incredibly upbeat I am about the music industry for someone doing that.

(I have a product called the music marketing money system. It’s not the music marketing charity system for a reason — I don’t think we have to be the Red Cross of the entertainment world!)

My approach is built around the premise that music is dead, or at least on life support, as a means for musicians to make money from. But that doesn’t mean we should give up on our careers. It just means we need to evolve.

Build fanbases through social media, give away your music for free and get your fans to spread it, create viral content — and then, when fans know you, like you, and trust you, sell them high-ticket items that most musicians usually never even think about.

So the trick is two-fold: (1) Get your content going viral - fans spread it, because we just don’t have the time or money to do it ourselves, and (2) Actually monetise those new-found fans, and not with music, because that’s not going to cut it anymore.

The idea is that fans follow artists long-term because they love who those artists are - their personalities, lifestyle, values, etc. And that’s where he says we would do well to start thinking about monetising.

In my free videos at, I talk about how musicians can run membership communities for their fans, selling “access” to their lives - special backstage passes, exclusive content, exclusive offers, etc. - and bill for that monthly, and get a “salary” from their fans.

Another idea is I touch on is artists “endorsing” affiliated products that connect with their brand (i.e. the personality, lifestyle and values portrayed). While offline that’s only lucrative for big artists appearing in TV and radio ads, on the internet, if you’ve got an audience/fanbase, you can track their clicks and purchases and receive 50, even 75% of those purchases using services like

Nobody’s got all the answers, or the whole truth it seems — but this looks promising, and potentially an ethical, sustainable way for musicians to make it out there.

Let us know what you think in the comments below.

(PS. Before I get a million hell letters, I AM NOT saying that music is a waste of time — at all! I think music is central, it’s all important - but it’s not where we’ll make our money. Our personalities are what matter, if you have a personality PLUS an audience, you’re a celebrity. And celebrities can sell anything from tanks to toasters - it’s just about deciding what you’re qualified to sell, interested in, and your audience associates/appreciates from you.)


I’m Chris Cox - I’m an internet marketer turned indie music coach. I run several successful online businesses, but my heart is with musicians and how they can use the brand-new opportunities of the internet, that empower the “little guy” to make money from their music, at last.

You can check out my free videos here at

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Reader Comments (3)

This isn't a solution. This is circumventing the problem.

The issue is that the monetary value of music is so low that artists can't support themselves through their music.

Although charging for other products and services is currently the best financial alternative for artists (imho), it is still not raising the value of the music itself.

That being said, good article.
Most of these tools and ideas are being used by the band I work with.
Check out After Edmund or to see what exactly we're doing.

July 4 | Unregistered CommenterJNobel

I, too have stumbled on a business model where indie musicians can make money not selling music: but this advice is for free. Set up an advice service online on how to make it in today's not-really-music-business.

July 8 | Registered CommenterTim London

This is a similar to the model that Trent Reznor and Josh Freese are taking with doing crazy promotions using creative tiered pricing (Ex Seems like all musicians are being forced into this model though...the model being "get creative and accept the fact that if people really want to get your music for free they can and will". Maybe there will be a big wave of licensing companies that EASILY allow artists to make money through licensing. Whatever it is, it's an exciting journey to be a part of.

web fuel for artists

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