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How to Start Making Money

17StartMakingMoney_0Even musicians with the most modest sort of integrity eventually wonder when they'll start making money. It's nothing to be ashamed of; with all the time and brainpower you've invested in your band, you're bound to look forward to the day when you'll make money from your music. And though it can be pretty difficult for anyone below the level of, say, U2, making music for money is definitely possible if you go about it with a little bit of know-how. So read on, rock and pop musicians; this article will provide just what you need.


While the most popular rock bands make money from gigantic door deals with equally as gigantic venues, young bands in their earliest stages tend to start making money with merchandise: CDs, DVDs, t-shirts, posters -- seriously, the only limit is your imagination. Create a great logo for your band and stick it on anything that will stand still; boasting a diverse merchandise catalogue is an important way to make money from your music.

But be careful in your selection of merchandise items -- you don't want to break your bank. While novelty items like personalized compact mirrors, matchbooks or denim jackets look absolutely amazing on a merchandise table, they tend to be very expensive to produce. You'll have to price the items very, very high just to make cost, which will significantly lower the number of buyers.

Since you'll already be spending money to make the essentials -- t-shirts, CDs and stickers, maybe even posters and one-inch buttons -- you'll want to increase the amount of profit on novelty items to really start making money. Ask around; maybe someone you know is especially skilled at making things -- handmade posters, maybe, or fabric wristbands -- and would be willing to cut you a good deal on merchandise production. Or ask someone to teach you a few simple screenprinting techniques and start making merchandise items yourself. It'll take a lot of practice, but once you start making money you'll see that it was completely worth the trouble.

Live Shows

Though they aren't always immediately lucrative, live shows are an essential part of any plan to make money from your music. That's how all the huge rock stars do it, right?

Understand, however, that in the early stages of your band, most venues will only pay you a portion of the money collected at the door (and sometimes not even that, depending on how much the door needs to pay out the bar and the sound person), and cash guarantees are difficult to get until you've garnered a pretty predictable following. But don't start panicking just yet; there are definite ways to move around the industry and make money from your music at live shows.

Play Often: The best way to grab a lot of money from live shows is to play as often as you possibly can. Aim for at least one show per week, possibly two if you can manage to hop to the next town over for one of them. You might also want to consider talking to a venue about setting up a residency, a set of live shows performed once a week for a specific amount of time. You'll be paid for the residency and you'll also get the ability to meet and play with a number of other local bands.

Publicize: If you know for sure that you'll be paid a cut of the door for you live shows, it's completely incumbent upon you to get tons of people there; more people, more money and less chance the club will try to stiff you for not bringing in a crowd. Paper your town with fliers, personally call everyone you know, get in contact with local media; do whatever it takes to get as many people through the door as possible.

Push Merchandise: Quite possibly, the biggest cut of your money will come from your merchandise sales, so you need to make sure people are completely aware that you have things for sale. Mention it once or twice during your set (but not too many times -- you don't want to appear pushy or desperate) and make sure to point out where the merchandise table is set up. After you've finished playing and tearing down, go straight for the merchandise table and stay put. A lot of times, bands will miss out on potentially great merchandise sales simply because they were getting a beer or hanging out with friends. If the idea of sitting behind a merchandise table all night doesn't appeal to you, then ask one of your bandmates to do it or offer to run it in shifts. It doesn't matter how exactly you coordinate it, just make sure that someone is sitting at that merchandise table at all times.

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