From my previous article titled how to tell if you would make a great dj which was all about identifying the DJ in you am following that up with the reason why we started with that article in the first place. The whole idea is to show you that if you are a musician of some sort and with special reference to Hip Hop Artists, it’s very important to find ways to survive so you can continue to create your art.
Truth be told, it’s very hard to keep creating music and growing your brand when you can barely keep the lights on in your house and barely can make rent. Hence that article was meant to open you up to a possibility of using the DJ in you to help keep you to continue actively making music.
Before we talk about DJing and monetizing that art I will attempt to give you ways that I have undergone to keep afloat in the music business with special emphasis on my Hip Hop contributions since I know very little about the DJ world.
So like the previous article let me list 4 income streams that have kept me going for the past 13 years in my Hip Hop career.
I started off as a Rap enthusiast turned rapper only to become an artist’s manager and music business consultant later. Currently I produce & Present TV and radio, organise live shows and co-own a clothing company. I have contributed to one of Africa’s Biggest Hip Hop Magazine called Hype Magazine and managed to release music. The DGV Website, which I created with the help of 2 business partners, went on to become one of the biggest websites in Zimbabwe. It was in fact the first of its kind in the Zimbabwean Hip Hop industry.
So it is this practical experience that l will use to help you identify ways in which you can keep yourself in a good financial space in order to keep creating music without worrying about rent and bills.
- Website Design
Yes, believe it or not I have actually received money for website design and hosting simply because of my history as an artist who has a very successful website that people admire. It made it easy for clients to ask me to work on their websites for a fair amount. All those years running websites and learning what to do helped me to design websites for artists that made sense to their brands and helped them get out there.
So, it’s all about looking at the things and skills you are learning which clients are willing to pay for. Regular income is always good especially when you have been frustrated and end up teaching yourself how to build a website.
The truth is who would have ever thought us losing the DGV website will one day help me to provide a service to others doing what I now do for myself and that’s build websites.
Advice: So maybe you are good with your social media, engaging with your fans and creating a huge following; there is a huge chance that other people are actually watching you and would pay a fair amount to have you teach them how to do it or pay you to run their accounts and or awareness campaigns. Look at your strengths and see how you can cash in on them. If there is something you are good at… just stop for a minute and look closely at how you can cash in on it.
- Freelance journalism
Writing articles is one sure way of getting paid. Nowadays you don’t even have to be on a big newspaper or magazine for you to build a name and start getting good money from writing. The nicest thing about writing, is you can write about almost anything and people will still read and follow your work all because they care about your opinion or they merely just want to know what you know. Obviously with Hype Magazine (South Africa) it took me a couple of articles before they started paying me. What helped was that I was already running a website with lots of content and things to say about the Hip Hop culture. Therefore l had a track record of meeting deadlines, a following and quality work they could refer to. That also helped me to get freelance work with websites overseas that paid me on a weekly basis.
Advice: Think of using your opinion to pay some bills. Share your opinion in the media, you can either do reviews for TV, Radio or Print media or just write opinion pieces on your blog or any other form of social media. As long as you can consistently find a way of releasing your content the best way you know how, who knows your vlog or blog could attract someone out there to see an opportunity to make money with you. So get out there and start working.
- Merchandise & Clothing
Merchandise is easily one of the biggest sources of income an artist can ever have. It goes without saying that it’s now mandatory for an artist to have some sort of merchandise every time they perform or make a public appearance. Simply because the audience is now accustomed to buying souvenirs and posing with them for photos meant to show off on social media. It’s now a sign of showing where you were or are at. Basically what this means is that an artist has used his music to grow a brand name that people want to associate with as well as products that the artist is affiliated with. In our situation after realising that there were more profits in Clothing than in CD sales, we started creating events so as to bring people together in order for them to buy our Grapevine Clothing. The clothing venture has since grown into a registered company that now supplies companies and corporate. It has thus become a huge source of income that also relies on the music to get to the customers.
Advice: As long as you have great quality and creative products and services your fan base is bound to want your stuff. Some may buy just to support, others may buy on impulse and so on but whatever the reason make sure you have professionally done merchandise so that if they do buy your stuff they get to enjoy it and who knows they might become a loyal customer after all. From t-shirts, to caps, cell phone covers to glow in the dark wristbands or any other kind of paraphernalia, make sure it’s creative and represents what your brand is about and above all great quality.
- Music Business Consultancy
Having been active in the music industry for over 13 years I have learnt a couple of things and made great network over time. With that said, it was just a matter of time before people and other artists started asking me to do stuff for them or help them with strategies or to launch their brands since I already have the network of connections and know how to go about pushing a brand. They say experience is the best teacher and once you have experienced it it’s easy to teach or relate it to someone else. Whilst you are doing that, why not benefit from that as well?
Sometimes it’s not always about charging money but it’s about seeing how your brand can benefit and grow in return for services rendered. Barter trade is always common among artists as it’s more readily available instead of cash so you can swap services depending on strengths just as long as you get to save the little that you had and not expose yourself to working for free.
I have benefited from helping people with drafting professional documents and advising them on how to go about launching and releasing their products plus helping them get interviews simply because I know from experience how to go about it and also know the right people to talk to. An example is arguably how a former soccer player can make a great soccer coach since they would have gone through what the players will be going through hence because they have lived through such experiences and can relate, it’s easier for them to guide the team.
Advice: No matter what level you are at in the music industry etc be sure to learn and understand why you do what you do so that you can be in a position to do it again for others in the future.
Make sure you experience as much as you can so that when the time comes you can teach others how to achieve the desired result. Whilst you at it, make sure to maintain good relations and expand your networks because just like you, people are progressing and growing in the industry and you will never know when you will need them in the future. Remember, experience is the best teacher and it doesn’t hurt to get paid to teach. Like Jay-Z once said, your network will determine your net worth, so go out there and make it work!