Artists have always been media brands. Today’s musician’s revenue model is very close to a media brand’s revenue model. Artists haven’t been able to sell the music itself for a long time, because there is no reason to pay for it. However, people are willing to pay for other special experiences that the artist can offer.
Everything an artist does, is a media product – music, lyrics, YouTube videos, interviews, performances, tweets, Instagram photos, books, posters, stickers, t-shirts, magazines, Q&A’s, Snapchat videos and even WhatsApp messages. They are all meant to give the audience experiences which they cannot get elsewhere. You’re taking them on a ride.
Reverse-engineer YouTube stars’ revenue models
Do-it-yourself YouTube stars are good examples of how to organise revenue streams for an artist. YouTubers sell their audience’s attention companies and collaborators. The currency in these deals is not always money, you can also trade the attention of your audience to the attention of another influencer’s audience. Collaborations can be very effective in getting more distribution to the content of your media brand.
Every song needs a video
Peter Hollens, a very successful YouTube musician recently said in Andrew Apanov’s WeSpin Recipes podcast, that every song should be released with some kind of video. Even lyric videos can be very interesting, and hugely popular, such as Adele’s Skyfall with over 241 million views.
When you have a community, all kinds of monetization options will become available to you. Donations, sponsorships, merchandise sales and YouTube ad revenue may be the most obvious choices, but a big crowd will be very useful in many ways. You can also sell subscriptions to your fan club, books, online courses, performances, personalized videos, etc.
Artists sell their influence
You are not in the music business anymore, you are in the attention business, just like all other entrepreneurs. Your value as an artist is based on the amount of attention and how much distribution you have.
The most important asset is the artist’s influence. What are your fans willing to do for you? How many people can you draw to a venue? How many are waiting for your next video? Will they want to use the same products as you? Will they share your new music video? Do they trust you?
The fans are just one customer group among many others. Sponsors buy the influence of the artist. The fans buy the experience – be it a live show or a special product. Media buys the attention of the fans. There are so many things you can sell, when you lots of attention and influence.
Make your journey visible
To earn a fan’s trust you must tell a lot about yourself, what you do and why. It’s hard to become a fan, if there’s not much information available about the artist. YouTube videos are one way to tell the story, but the impact is much greater, if the story is being told on all social media channels at once.
One thing leads to another
The music and the videos are just sirens that guide the fan candidates to the complete fan experience. Based on a few YouTube music videos, it’s hard to decide to follow an artist, but if there are 10 music videos, it’s much easier to become an actual fan. And the story needs to continue beyond music videos. You need to keep telling your story in different channels – in social media profiles, and preferably on our website too.
All social media platforms need to be treated differently, because people won’t have any reason to follow you on all platforms, unless there’s different content on each. And the content needs to feel natural on each platform. It takes a lot of work, but when someone finds your content on one of the platform, chances are that they’ll follow you on other platforms as well.