Updated: Jun 30, 2020
I got this question from a close client of mines, and I told him that I will answer that question here after some thought, He asked me, what would you do if you had $20,000
Let's First Build A Scenario
I am assuming that this $20,000 is used only towards the music career, rather than expenses like house bills, and groceries. Let's say that you have all of the time in the world to record your songs as an Artist in your home with your already built music studio setup, but have no idea on how to mix and master your songs. I hope that some of you can relate with this scenario as well. We have a small number of fans ( let's say 1,000 loyal fans ) and around 15 songs already in the public. You plan to create a 10 song album, and hope to get the ball rolling with your 10 little bundles of investments known as songs for $10 for the whole album.
First Thing's First, What is $20,000
The first thing that I would do is to immediately understand the concept of $20,000 in itself. To some, $20,000 could be seen as a life-changing amount that can get them a new car, or a big gaming setup. Others can see it as paying the rent or mortgage for about 10 months to a year. The way that I see money (as someone who has spent every dime on investing back into my craft,) I see it as money that can make money.
Think Of A Pie Chart
A $20,000 pie in your face, and you have to give the right amount to the right plates in order to satisfy everybody's hunger, yourself included. Now, who are these people, or positions that you have to serve the pie to, in order to get good feedback, and be paid for your chef skills? Best way to put it, you have to serve multiple guests. One guest will turn your recordings into a great mix; One guest will take that great mix, and master it to it's final potential; One guest who can provide you with the artwork of the album; One who will take that final product, and put them to the stores; One guest that will take that song, and create a music video out of it; And most importantly; One guest that will spread the word to other people, in order to gain attraction. Let's see how much each of these pieces get, and how much is left back.
The Pieces of the Pie
Let's go ahead and sort these pieces out! For Mixing and Mastering 10 songs with ya boy Justin Omoi, that would be $3,000. Never, and I mean NEVER try to go cheap with mixing and mastering. I could go on forever about why not to, but let's just leave it at that. I could make a separate blog about that at another time. Total: $3,000
Graphic Artist for the album art... $100... if they do an amazing job... okay okay fine... give em $300... be generous. It all depends on the image that you're trying to convey and the fine details. Just make sure that they portray your ideals right, because this is the face of your album, and people will judge you from the cover. Total: $3,300
After the album is finished, publishing the songs to online stores is the next step. This is where you will cut a tiny little piece for the Aggregators. There are a handful of sites to choose from (CD Baby, Distrokid, Tune Core etc.) but nonetheless, you more than likely will not spend a dime over $50 to upload an album. While you are at it, file up the songs with a Producer Rights Organization To be safe, we can also toss in some Copyrighting for another $50. Total: $3,400
How about the Music Video now? This is where the big brain thoughts come into play. This is not necessarily like hiring a Mix and Mastering engineer (No offense to myself... none taken.) This can be a brand that already has an audience watching. Don't believe me? Well... does Lyrical Lemonade sound familiar? Yes, a YouTube channel that I've witnessed grow from 100K to now at 14 Million subscribers. Music Video Creators have their own brands that attract the audience that YOU want! These are the people that watch music videos simply because they are a fan of music, and listen to music. The prices may vary depending on who you go to, but definitely look into the $500 - $2,000 range budget. For the sake of rounding, let's say that it did cost $2,000 to make a really great music video that is very visually appealing. Believe it or not, there goes 25% of the budget! If we have leftover money for the budget, we will get back to this for a nice round 2. Total: $5,400 (plus unknown travel costs)
Now that all of the creation and production is finished, it is time to play the "tease-game." Simply throwing an Album out to the wild is not going to fly, unless your name is Marshall Mathers. In order for something to go into demand, you have to show them a tiny bit of action, as if something can come, is coming, and will be coming.
Don't forget your fans, journalists, and publicists are the ones who will help spread your music out. You can ultimately do things yourself nowadays as an independent artist to spread the word, and get your name/music on playlists, meme or music twitter profiles, radio stations, blogs from websites, or vlogs from YouTube creators (like Adam 22) etc. via networking BUT with a publicist alongside, they will have good connections to go to if they are highly credible with a nice track record. Thankfully, we have a budget, 75% of it to be exact. On average, you can find a good publicist that can range around the $1,000 mark per month. How many months should we have to do? In my personal opinion, go for 3 months. That is 90 days of your album being spoken around. A lot can happen in 90 days -- If you're reading this in the year 2020, you already know what I am talking about. But yes, 3 months for $3000. 1st month to hint at something coming to your fans with the release of a music video, the 2nd month when the album is being released, and the 3rd month to follow suit and keep the momentum rolling for the album with the help of interviews, radio play, and on-stage performances, perhaps with another music video to follow suit for extra credit. Total: $8,400 (plus unknown travel costs)
What else is there to spend on?... Actually... NOTHING!! We covered everything, and we did not even use out 50% of the whole budget. We definitely have room for another music video too. How about you get yourself something nice to celebrate all of that hard work. Of course your role as an Artist would have been to record the music, be interviewed, and perform at stages, but since you want to be an independent artist with no agent/ manager, it is what it is!
SO... What Happened To The Investment Part?..
Probably the most awaited part that we've been waiting for. Now that we know what we've spent ( let's round it up to $10,000 for good measure.) How much do we need in order to make back the $10K, and make a profit from it? Okay...
This all depends on how well you've implemented everything -- from your creation of the songs, the quality of the services that you paid to get it made and put out, as well as how well the publicist did at his own role.
Let's talk numbers
The fun part of investing is to see how much you need in order to recoup investment costs. This will get your mindset gathered up!
You spent $10,000 and in order to gain it back, we have different streams of income (pun intended.) We have Album Sales, Song "Streams from different platforms," Royalties, Merchandising, and YouTube ad revenue ( if the videos were posted on your channel and you are eligible for it. )
To make $10,000 you could sell the $10 album to 1,000 fans. You've already had 1,000 loyal fans, but imagine how many more fans you would have gained with all of that publicity and promotion and interviews and radio plays and performances etc. Hopefully after hearing that, you can imagine the amount of people who would buy your album would be more than 1,000. That's great, because we can't forget about banking/ tax fees. Might be a small bite into the profits, but trust me, it probably won't even be much of a flesh wound....
Did We forget... We Only Talked About ONE Stream of Income!
And yes, it only gets better from here. You may imagine that a lot of young fans wouldn't buy albums, but instead stream the song on their music platforms of choice. Well those streams make you money as well. It may be hard to believe, but they say that 1 Million stream plays equates to around $6,000 at the very least. If you made a HIT of an album, and got the media running for you with the help of everything mentioned before, best believe that you will hit 1 million streams easily. There are 328.2 million people in the U.S. alone as of 2019. And a stream count can be counted again by the same person who listens to the song over and over again.
Royalties are pretty much free money flying to your bank account. All you have to do is sit back, relax, and let the P.R.O count the radio airplay of your songs, and collect payments for your "performance." $0.091 is owed per song, so imagine if there was 1 million airplays from various radio stations.... $91,000. I can tell your mouth is watering. Mines is too, just by writing this!
I am not going to talk about the rest of the streams of income, because I believe that you already got the point that you'll make a good stinking profit out of this if everything is done correctly and gather great amounts of attention.
I hope that this was able to grab your attention, and motivate you to the highest extent to go create art, and get some great connections and networking.