Something I get asked about a lot is how to use content marketing to make money. This is a big one and one that a lot of bands only really have a rough understanding of. It’s frustrating though because with a more thorough understanding of this bands would be more able to not just grow their brands and presentations but also make money from it. I see a loto f people trying to monetize in a few basic ways or trying to come up with unique twists but that rarely works out for anyone, and often makes them look silly, out of touch, ore simply incapable of growing their brand in a meaningful way. SI I wanted to write a piece looking at the key ways that bands can monetize their content and then the different approaches that you can use to do this. I want to start off this article with a clear reminder, the content you create is not just music, but in fact can reach into a broad variety of other channels, options and methods.
So there’s three basic ways to monetize your content on the internet. The first is the traditional method, you put out a record, someone else buys it. Easy, simple, done. The second is the idea that you create a piece of content and monetize it over time, this is something a lot of bands do, both with Patreon and crowdfunding type things, but also stuff like touring. You don’t expect to make money off the record itself but instead you are hoping to make money of the direct consequences of the record itself. The third method is a little crazier, a little more intimidating at times, but absolutely essential if you want to grow, and that is not even worrying about monetizing certain portions of your content because you know that you are building relationships and that eventually these relationships are going to pay off in some capacity because as the brand grows you grow as well and if you are growing then people are going to be enamored with it.
Now I think we all understand the second method as one of the most effective ways to monetize your content as a musician. You can’t really count on record sales or online merch sales anymore, often times those things are almost more trouble than they are worth. That’s why you need to find ways to create things that cater to the fans who are into you as a direct result of your music but who aren’t going to be spending money on your music in the first place. This is why we talk about having a good merch game, personalized merchandise and all that other fun stuff. It’s simply a reflection of not just the times but also the way that people consume music these days. Music isn’t something people are going to buy anymore, it’s something they hear in the background while they are watching their favorite Twitch stream. That’s why things like “Chill hip hop beats to study and relax too” are popping off right now. Of course you’re not trying to create background music, which is why the touring grind is important, and ties in firmly to the third way to monetize your content.
Here’s the best way to get your head wrapped around not directly monetizing content. How many of your early tours did you go on not expecting to make any money? Exactly. Most bands when they set out can only hope to break even or expect to lose money when on tour. That’s just how things shake out. However they go out on tour anyway because they are hoping that they will be able to build relationships with fans, friends and promoters so that they can come back in a few months and have it be even sicker. This is the key for everyone trying to promote their band on the road. It’s not to come back wealthy, it’s to come back with the hope that things will be easier for them in the future. That’s the trick. They are investing their time and content creation (Music and live shows) in order to fund future relationships which end up being profitable for them down the line. This doesn’t mean do stupid tours, it means focus your touring effectively.
Of course that’s not the only content you can create which is going to help you monetize your brand and your band. Their are countless other things you can do that are going to get the word out there and get eyeballs on you and ears on your music. This is where the more atypical forms of content creation can help. Sure some things like Music videos are obviously pieces of content you don’t expect to make you money but instead create fans and relationships, but there are also key things like commenting frequently on social media and creating a lot of content on that front. That’s one of those simple things that a lot of people connect with and find a lot of utility in. Posting on social media is creating content and it can build relationships. If you’re a nice guy online that creates an interest in people coming to your show to see you and meet you. That’s a big part of how a lot of these bands survive in the early days, they create relationships through communication and generate a whole mess of interest in them and their peers. It’s the same as how when hardcore bands used to write letters to fans – it was about creating pieces of content that would endear them down the line.
Content marketing is a tricky thing and in the internet age it is reliant on you creating the most of it. If you can dominate the content creation world, be active in the gloval comment sections and eventually make a name for yourself then a shit ton of people ae going to connect and want to check out your band. If you try to hold yourself aloof and don’t make a point of forging these relationships then it is going to be very hard for you to create direct fans who actually come out to support. It’s hard to get to the critical mass where people start flocking to you who you aren’t directly reaching out too, but you need to get there if you want to be able to create something meaningful and long lasting for the entirety of the scene.