How do you find a music publisher? How can you convince potential rights exploiters of your songwriting qualities? What helps you find a music company that will invest in you? And how can you get lucrative concerts and gigs? Besides networking, which is undoubtedly very important, a strong demo package is the tool of choice. Songwriters don’t have to focus so much on their own person, unlike a demo package that a musician or band sends to a music company. This is because with songwriters, it is not the sales value of the face, voice and personality that counts, but of course the quality of the songs written.
Making money with music is always done within a market
In the music industry, we are within a market. A market is always determined by demand and supply. Our product? A composition that people like to listen to and that helps the performing artist succeed. Or a band that can retain fans and be marketed in the long term.
Ideally, pop music today should ensure that a pop musician sells many copies of a record, fans attend his concerts, discos play the songs and radio stations love the songs.
But songs can of course also be successful independently of pop music. For example, when a song is intended for a television programme, advertising, a film, a video game or some other purpose. But here, too, the market determines the conditions.
It is therefore extremely important that we orient ourselves to the demand. So it makes absolutely no sense to put our songs on demo CDs and send them around the world. We have to know exactly for what purpose our song is suitable and then find those on the market who have a need for it.
So step one in making money with music is analysis
The first step is to define our style. Most of the time it is relatively clear. Do you write modern pop songs, Schlager, folk music, German or English, rock or jazz? Do you write songs that are suitable for the mass market? Or rather songs whose hit potential is not so existent? Be sober and make your decision based on reality. You can also take into account the opinion of friends or family members.
The task now is to find the appropriate exploiters. If you are writing pop music, you should look for music publishers or music companies (record companies) that are in the pop music business and not try to get into youth magazines. So now analyse where people who would probably appreciate your kind of music are. Are they on the internet? If so, what are they looking for online? What platforms do they use online? And how/what do they use them for? What magazines do they read? What television programmes do they watch? What radio shows do they listen to? Do they watch YouTube, if applicable? Do they use Spotify or other streaming services?
If you are particularly motivated, you can also look for artists to send your songs to. Since this is often relatively difficult with well-known musicians, it can also be worthwhile to approach newcomers or smaller bands. Always remember: small fry make a mess and if a newcomer does make it, then it wouldn’t be bad if you are already acquainted with him or her.
Step two to earn money with your own music is the demo package
What goes into a demo package for songwriters is not so well defined. The most important thing is, of course, the music. Nowadays, everything basically runs via MP3s by e-mail or your own website. Now and then CDs are still accepted. But this is becoming increasingly rare.
By the way, not every music company accepts unsolicited demo packages. Therefore, before you invest time and money, call to find out if they accept unsolicited demo packages. This is the only way to find out whether demo packages are welcome and who the appropriate contact person is. Because then the demos will arrive and be listened to.
If a demo is requested by post, enclose a personal letter with your demo package. Don’t be afraid to mention your career and previous successes. A handwritten signature shows that it is not a mass demo that has been sent indiscriminately to all kinds of music publishers.
However, refrain from making this cover letter purely handwritten – this is simply no longer in keeping with the times and could be interpreted as unprofessionalism. Your blank, if one is enclosed, should not necessarily be a cheap discounter blank. This is simply a matter of making a good impression. So enclose a branded blank or one that you have printed directly. Refrain from printing the blanks yourself (for example, with those blank paper sticky labels).
If such a label is not applied exactly to the blank, it will create an imbalance in the blank at high rotation speeds, which can ruin your contact’s entire CD drive. And who wants to be remembered like that? Label-printed blanks are often not inserted at all. The blank CD should definitely have your address, your name, a way to reach you and a track list. Always remember that your demo package is in a way your business card. The way it comes across already communicates a first impression. Therefore, make sure that all components represent you to a satisfactory degree and make a professional impression throughout.
Also include printed lyrics. It is not important that you also include a small text explaining how each song came about and why you wrote it. Only the lyrics, the melody and the harmony are interesting. Don’t forget to write your contact details on the sheets of paper that contain the lyrics. Sometimes things get crazy in the offices of music publishers and it can’t hurt if every single song that is in your demo package can be attributed to it.
The most important factor in making money from music is, of course, the music
Think carefully about what the goal is here and always keep in mind that the recipient will not exclusively receive your demo/promo kit, but countless ones from countless people. So they won’t give your music the importance you give it.
Generally speaking, a demo CD should contain a maximum of 3-5 songs. Shorten the intro (it’s best not to use an intro at all). Intros are nice – but they get on your nerves if you want to listen to – let’s say – 30 songs by different songwriters one after the other. After the 3rd song at the latest (if you’re lucky) you rigorously fast-forward or (if you’re not lucky). Or the rejection letter is sent out directly.
What should not be underestimated, however, is the quality of the music recording. Gone are the days when a badly sung demo was still convincing because of the quality of the composition. It is now relatively easy and cheap to record your song yourself at a small recording studio or in your own home studio, or to commission dedicated musicians to do it for you.
Step four to earning money with your own music are proofs of marketability
The music industry is an economic field. No one there is interested in expensively building up an unknown artist and helping the next “superstar” and millionaire succeed. Rather, music companies buy a product – whether it’s a song or an artist – that they believe will be successful in generating revenue.
The motto is: help yourself and God will help you. Try to break through the noise of marketing and make yourself heard. If you have already been successful as a musician, for example, if you have won a competition, perhaps even had a song placed with a well-known artist or received positive reviews from well-known industry experts, definitely include these excerpts. The same applies if a song was so successful in front of a test audience that direct purchase demand was created.
Never lose sight of the fact that this is musicbusiness. Anything that helps to reinforce the impression that subcontracting your music will lead to commercial success is helpful. But avoid excessive exaggerations – this can quickly come across as arrogant. And the charity gig at the local old people’s home is also less helpful.
Step five to making money with music is managing your own expectations
It’s not easy to find a music publisher or music company right away. Therefore, look at it sportingly. Rejections are part of life and the Beatles had to suffer from them too. Sometimes you just need a bit of luck. If you regularly receive rejections, it could also be due to the quality of your songs. Always remember that you are producing music for a market. So if your music doesn’t sound like the stuff that’s in the charts, chances are very high that no music publisher or record company that is active in that market segment will be interested in it. Still, keep your eye on the ball, send regular demo packages to the right contacts and don’t get demotivated.
Just try to do the best you can and keep improving. There are many who don’t know any of the tips and tricks mentioned and still send out their demo kits. So you definitely have an advantage over them.
How else can you make money with music?
- As a music teacher
- With a YouTube channel
- With Spotify and donations
- With merchandise
- As an instrumental musician
- As a commissioned producer
- With own products
- With royalty-free music
- As a producer for slots, casino games and other online gambling providers, especially in legal and regulated markets, such as Switzerland and their Beste Online Casinos.
- As an entertainment musician
- With local gigs and performances
- With fun and creative music ideas