[Music Monday] Wait, You Can Make Money For Music From The Internet?
The [recorded] music industry has been in very dark days lately, especially in Indonesia – I’ve frequently written about the current situation so I won’t revisit it. But the breakdown is this: there is currently no real way the [recorded] music industry can make money from their work. CD sales are diminishing, music through mobile is going through a crisis, and there’s not really an online music store worth mentioning for the local market. But this does not mean that the Internet cannot make money for you, the musician or music label.
I’ll admittedly be broad about this – I won’t say there are a million ways to make money for music directly from the Internet, but there are definitely a lot of ways to make sure the Internet works for you and gets you that much-needed money. Music may be virtually free for most music listeners, but it doesn’t mean making the music you want does not cost money. Even downloading Audacity or Gamelan will take some money off your Internet bill.
Trying to pitch to a music magazine to cover your band may not cost money but bringing along coffee for the journalists goes a long way. And so on. Even if you’re a self-proclaimed indie artist that does not want to spend money, eventually you’d need money for food, right?
So take Amanda Palmer – I have no idea who she is but she has raised over $500,000 via Kickstarter for her new album (and artbook, and tour). That’s 500% of her original goal, with 25 days to go. She must have a lot of fans already as there are 4061 people (at time of writing) who has pledged $10,000. And that’s one example out of many music projects currently running on Kickstarter.
On Indonesia’s own Wujudkan, Popzzle is attempting to raise funds for their own album, albeit with very limited traction (although I suspect that Popzzle currently does not have a significant fanbase they can monetize yet). But the crowdfunding project’s best feature is that it offers something for everyone – from the casual fan to the hardcore groupie.
And of course, selling band merchandise through the band’s official website has been a mainstay for many bands, even names like Dave Matthews Band (who are like my favoritest band, eva). I’m willing to bet that there are already a number of Indonesian bands who have opened up merchandise shops on places like Multiply, Kaskus or even Tokobagus (if you have an example, feel free to put it in the comments below), and receiving income through from their fanbase.
There’s even a Musik Multiply section which sells CDs which I think makes more sense these days. While fewer CDs might be produced by the music labels per album, the possible spread of fans willing to pay for CDs is not confined to areas where there still are stores selling original CDs.
You can also use the Internet as leverage to raise traction about upcoming events, activities or products that actually make you money – last weekend’s breakout free download of Seringai’s new single, Tragedi will surely drum up fans to buy the whole album later, or buy some merchandise, or enjoy a live show. Pandji has consistently leveraged the Internet and social media to bring people to buy his albums, books and come to his limited live shows. Everybody Loves Irene is also a notable band which has always used the Internet to raise awareness for the band.
Finishing an album recording and putting the album up for sale through your site with a PayPal button is pretty straightforward also – provided you already have enough fans who know about your site.
There is one important thing to remember: where are your fans? Today’s technology and culture provides musicians and music labels ample opportunity to make money from music, as long as they know where the fans are, especially those who are willing to pay something to get a bit of that music. In marketing speak, know your customer.
If most of your fans don’t have a computer and watch a lot of TV, then maybe Wujudkan is not for you. If your fans are tech-savvy and frequent the torrent sites, trying to make money from selling MP3s is probably not a good idea. Different music will have different fans and thus require a customized business approach, especially for the digital part.
There might be one business model that will be 50% effective for all bands and artists under a music label, but there are definitely various, differing models for each band and artist that would be closer to 90% effective. But if one thing’s clear is that the Internet can make money for your music. It’s just a matter of finding the right method for you.
Ario worked in the digital music industry in Indonesia from 2003 to 2010, and recently worked in the movie and TV industry in Vietnam. Keep up with him on Twitter at @barijoe or his blog on http://barijoe.wordpress.com
[image by Garry Knight]
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