On music and money: for unsigned musicians based in London

I spent the last couple of hours (not always easy to retrieve the numbers) trying to figure out whether with music I am at a financial loss, or not.
There are only two sources of cashflow at the moment: releases and gigs.

The final balance shows +£0.13 in close to 2 years.

Here’s how.


Since I started taking music TO A WHOLE NEW LEVEL (for me) I produced 2 releases:

  1. Broken and Uneven (album, 11 songs), released on 02/06/14
  2. What’s In Your Head? (single), released on 17/11/15

Being 100% DIY at this stage, the only costs I incurred** were those of the aggregator that I used (Record Union).

The album distribution cost me $60 (2 years of distribution + one-off fee) to date and the single $10.42 (1 year distribution + one-off fee).
For a total of $70.42.

So how much did I earn for my 2 releases?
Look at this table; it is the export from my account on Record Union.


I got $66.26.

Making a loss of $4.15, today equivalent to £2.87.


I started gigging July 2014 and by September 2015 I had played 31 gigs.

Assuming that I buy a couple of drinks (hihihihi) and take the tube every time I play I could roughly estimate having spent about £248 (£4 X 2 X 31) for alcohol and £148.8 (£2.4 X 2 X 31) for transportation.
A total of £396.8.

Being a registered member at PRS, which is an institution that helps songwriters and composers earn money for their music, I can log all my gigs and claim some royalties for having played them.

31 gigs got me to earn £149.80 from PRS.
On top of that I remember getting paid £50 once and will estimate a generous £20 for other 10 times which will skyrocket me to having earned a total of £399.80.

Making a profit of £3.

Final considerations

Taking my loss from the releases (£2.87) and my gain from the gigs (£3) I made a profit of £0.13.

If I had made a shit-load of streams on Spotify, say 1 million, I’d have made $6,933…still not that much!

I conclude that at my level it is really really really important to keep costs down and in check; together with having A REAL source of income (aka another job).

**For simplicity, I have taken N assumptions and disregarded a number of costs: my house, my gear, my time. Technically you could say I am at a loss then BUT I would argue that I would have spent most of this money anyway.


Music & DIY: available resources for unsigned musicians

I recently spoke to a musician-friend of mine (check her out Nicoletta Noé) and promised I would send her the list of all online resources, tools and services I make use of.
As I’m at it, I thought it might make an interesting blog post for other musicians like us.

This post is about sharing what I am doing and NOT about teaching anyone anything.
I do NOT know if what I am doing is right, so take it as it is and please share your views based on your own experience and guts.

I am 100% DIY at the moment and here’s how I am currently set up.


Music comes first.
Because it’s fun and because it makes me feel good.
All other activities to package, to market and distribute my music are less interesting to me so I try to minimise the time spent on them and be as organised as I can.

I invest my time, not my money.

Trial and error.
I open accounts generously then see what works for me.

There is no silver bullet.


It’s the blogging platform that powers my website.
You can choose a template you like and be independent in the creation and management of your website.
One drawback: I cannot use all the integrations and widgets available online (this is because the platform prevents me from using any Javascript).


I use it privately to upload and share my music before official releases.
I use it publicly to upload demos I want to share, older material and also my new releases.
I like to interact with people on the platform.

I mainly use it to organise gigs.
Also to share photos, some updates and to shortish/not-necessarily-perfect videos.
I like to interact with people on the platform.

I posted a few videos of a live set in a rehearsal studio.
I also use it to post my songs playing on a still frame image because heaps of people consume music from that platform (especially younger peeps).
I like to interact with people on the platform.

I use it to share some updates, photos and details for a gig.
I mainly use it as a ‘broadcast’ tool.

I have an up-to-date artist profile on it and use the audience widget to collect email subscriptions from my website.
It was recently bought by YouTube so something low maintenance and worth watching.
It offers a range of integrations and widgets to manage your online presence.

I have an up-to-date artist profile on it and have uploaded all my music on it.
Seems to be a platform of reference for some venues, festivals, and others in the industry.
It offers a range of integrations and widgets to manage your online presence.


One-off membership fee: £30
I am registered as a songwriter.
I register my songs there and this ensures I receive payments if the songs get played anywhere (any channel and any geography).
Also, when I play gigs I am recognised a £6 to £8 for each one.

You pay per release
Aggregator service to distribute my music on all relevant players: Spotify, Apple Music, Deezer, Tidal, etc. across all geographies I select and am willing to pay for. On the basis of my streams they pay me what I am due.
I am considering testing a new aggregator for a future release.


It allows me to record future gigs and automatically sends push notifications to anyone using Songkick and listening to me.
It integrates with Facebook but unfortunately not with my free version of WordPress.

Monthly, quarterly or annual fee
It’s the online directory of all music industry contacts in the UK: venues, festivals, blogs, magazines, radios, etc.
I use it to find email contacts to arrange gigs or to promote my recordings.

It is an email marketing tool.
I use it to send my newsletter and to keep my list of subscribers organised.
Whilst Mad Mimi does the job, I am thinking of reverting to using MailChimp as I like its templates better.

Pay per domain
It is the platform I have used to register my domain seretrouble.com .

It collects fees based on how you use it
I opened an account to be able to easily collect payments online.

My email provider of choice, together with Google Inbox to manage my emails.


Pay per master depending on the file quality you choose
Online mastering service.
I have used it for my soon-to-release EP Burning Milk.
I feel it is a great service for people with no access (£££) to top engineers and mastering studios at a fair price.

See pricing online
I chose them to print the vinyl of my soon-to-release EP Burning Milk.
I am still waiting to receive the final product so cannot comment on quality of service yet.


These are all accounts that I opened but that I am not actively using at this very moment.
I use some of them from time to time and some other might come handy at some stage in the future (or maybe not).


If you got to this point you probably play as well :).

I hope you find this post useful.
Please, reach out seretrouble @ gmail.com to share your thoughts as I am really keen to find out about better ways to “do this”.

Sere Trouble

Books I read


‘The Beat book’ by Anne Waldman
‘Il fasciocomunista’ by Antonio Pennacchi


‘Year of the monkey’ by Patti Smith
‘L’isola’ by Sándor Márai
‘A brief history of time’ by Stephen Hawking
‘The spider’s house’ by Paul Bowles
‘In search of lost time | The Guermantes Way’ by Marcel Proust
‘Petrolio’ by Pier Paolo Pasolini
‘Volgar eloquio’ by Pier Paolo Pasolini
‘The sheltering sky’ by Paul Bowles
‘The blindfold’ by Siri Hustvedt


‘Common sense on mutual funds’ by John Bogle
‘Sessanta racconti’ by Dino Buzzati
‘Blockchain, blueprint for a new economy’ by Melanie Swan
‘The millionaire next door’ by T.J. Stanley & W.D. Danko
‘The bell jar’ by Sylvia Plath
‘Neuromancer’ by William Gibson
‘L’invenzione di Morel’ by Adolfo Bioy Casares
‘Ragazzi di vita’ by Pier Paolo Pasolini
‘Fantasmi’ by Tiziano Terzani
‘Wealth of nations’ by Adam Smith
‘Lettere luterane’ by Pier Paolo Pasolini


‘Dawn of the new everything’ by Jaron Lanier
‘Swing time’ by Zadie Smith
‘Mixing secrets’ by Mike Senior
‘Down and out in Paris and London’ by George Orwell
‘In search of lost time | In the shadow of young girls in flower’ by Marcel Proust


‘No longer human?’ by Osamu Dazai
‘Winning the brain game?’ by M. E.  May
‘Who rules the world?’ by Noam Chomsky
‘Lean UX’ by Jeff Gothelf with J. Seiden
‘Scars of sweet paradise – The life and times of Janis Joplin’ by Alice Echols
‘Scritti corsari’ by Pier Paolo Pasolini
‘Eredità’ by Lilli Gruber
‘Our lady of the flowers’ by Jean Genet
‘The art of asking’ by Amanda Palmer
‘You are not a gadget’ by Jaron Lanier
‘Alice’s adventures in wonderland’ by Lewis Carroll
‘Bjork’ by Bjork
‘M train’ by Patti Smith
‘In search of lost time | Swann’s way’ by Marcel Proust
‘Will you please be quiet, please?’ by Raymond Carver


‘Naked lunch’ by William S. Burroughs
‘On being an artist’ by Michael Craig-Martin
‘The inmates are running the asylum’ by Alan Cooper
‘Vite bruciacchiate’ by Elio e le Storie Tese
‘The happy birthday of death’ by Gregory Corso
‘Nineteen eighty-four’ by George Orwell
‘Stone butch blues’ by Leslie Feinberg
‘Inspired’ by Marty Cagan
‘The left hand of darkness’ by Ursula Le Guin
‘Neverwhere’ by Neil Gaiman


‘Who owns the future’ by Jaron Lanier
‘A paradise built in hell’ by Rebecca Solnit
‘Going Dutch: how England plundered Holland’s glory’ by Lisa Jardine
‘The connected company’ by Dave Gray
‘USA | The big money’ by John Dos Passos
‘Escaping the Delta’ by Elijah Wald
‘Un indovino mi disse’ by Tiziano Terzani
‘Don’t make me think’ by Steve Krug
‘Brave new world’ by Aldous Huxley


‘Junky’ by William S. Burroughs
‘Songs of innocence and of experience’ by William Blake
‘User stories applied for Agile software development’ by Mike Cohn
‘Howl, Kaddish and other poems’ by Allen Ginsberg
‘How music works’ by David Byrne
‘Memphis underground’ by Stewart Home
‘Just kids’ by Patti Smith
‘The doors of perception’ by Aldous Huxley
‘Gloriana’ by Benjamin Britten
‘In un mondo imperfetto’ by Joseph Stiglitz
‘The human interface’ by Jef Raskin
‘USA | 1919’ by John Dos Passos
‘High society: mind-altering drugs in history and culture’ by Mike Jay
‘NW’ by Zadie Smith
‘Nudge’ by Thaler & Sustain
‘Utopia’ by Thomas More
‘The pursuit of Italy – A history of a land, its regions, and their peoples’ by David Gilmour


‘Tender is the night’ by Francis Scott Fitzgerald
‘Social business by design’ by Dion Hinchcliffe & Pete Kim
‘On the shortness of life. Life is long if you know how to use it’ by Seneca
‘Books v. cigarettes’ by George Orwell
‘Edie American girl’ by Jean Stein
‘USA | The 42nd parallel’ by John Dos Passos
‘The Tudors’ by Richard Rex
‘Tre atti e due tempi’ by Giorgio Faletti


‘We the living’ by Ayn Rand
‘On the origin of species’ by Charles Darwin
‘Full of life’ by John Fante
‘Here comes everybody’ by Clay Shirky
‘The cluetrain manifesto’ by Rick Levine, Christopher Locke, Doc Searls, David Weinberger
‘50 things you need to know about British history’ by Hugh Williams
‘Meritocrazia. 4 proposte concrete per valorizzare il talento e rendere il nostro paese più ricco e più giusto’ by Roger Abravanel
‘Trattato sui postumi della sbornia. Le ore dell’inutile pentimento’ by Juan Bas


‘Hanno tutti ragione’ by Paolo Sorrentino
‘The 7 habits of highly effective people’ by Stephen R. Covey
‘The Yacoubian building’ by Alaa Al Aswany
‘This is your brain on music’ by Daniel Levitin
‘Rework’ by J. Fried & D.H. Hansson
‘Beat the reaper’ by Josh Bazell
‘Sons and lovers’ by D.H. Lawrence
‘The call of the wild, White fang, and other stories’ by Jack London
‘Damon Albarn. Blur, Gorillaz and other fables’ by Martin Roach & David Nolan
‘Sushiettibile’ by Camilla Sernagiotto
‘Waiting for your cat to bark?’ by Bryan and Jeffrey Eisenberg
‘Satori in Paris’ by Jack Kerouac


‘Due di due’ by Andrea De Carlo
‘The mosquito coast’ by Paul Theroux
‘Milano. L’avventura di una città. Tre secoli di storie, idee, battaglie che hanno fatto l’Italia’ by Marta Boneschi
‘Lonesome traveler’ by Jack Kerouac
‘Manhattan transfer’ by John Dos Passos
‘Eugénie Grandet’ by Honore Balzac
‘NoLogo’ by Naomi Klein
‘Guerrilla Gardening’ by…
‘Wake up’ by Jack Kerouac
‘The logic of life’ by Tim Harford
‘Ham on rye’ Charles Bukowski
‘Arabian sands’ by Wilfred Thesiger
‘Idee: il catalogo è questo’ by Umberto Galimberti
‘Nudi e crudi’ by Alan Bennett
‘Cent’anni di solitudine’ by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
‘Il concetto di tempo’ by Martin Heidegger


‘Francis Bacon’ by John Russell
‘Il grande Gatsby’ by Francis Scott Fitzgerald
‘Gomorra’ by Roberto Saviano
‘Il perduto amore’ by Mario Tobino
‘Benazir Bhutto, daughter of the East’ by Benazir Bhutto
‘Mondi Nuovi’ by Andrea Pezzi
‘L’isola di Arturo’ by Elsa Morante
‘Con le peggiori intenzioni’ by Alessandro Piperno
‘Il mercato d’azzardo’ by Guido Rossi
‘I Malavoglia’ by Giovanni Verga
‘On Chesil beach’ by Ian McEwan
‘Il libro degli eroi’ by Nathaniel Hawthorne
‘Atonement’ by Ian McEwan
‘La Casta’ by G.A. Stella & S. Rizzo


‘La ragazza di Bube’ by Carlo Cassola
‘Leonardo da Vinci. Diario di un genio’ by Lelio Scanavini
‘Latinoamericana’ by Ernesto Che Guevara
‘Dove abitano le emozioni’ by M. Botta, P. Crepet e G. Zois
‘Extremely loud & incredibly close’ by J. S. Foer
‘Anfitrione’ ‘Bacchidi’ ‘Menecmi’ by Plauto
‘Persepolis. Storia di un’infanzia’ by Marjane Satrapi
‘La rabbia e l’orgoglio’ by Oriana Fallaci
‘Fat, forty and fired’ by Nigel Marsh
‘The undercover economist’ by Tim Harford
‘Perfume’ by Patrick Süskind
‘A long way down’ by Nick Hornby
‘Modern architecture’ by Alan Colquhoun
‘The beach’ by Alex Garland
‘Memoirs of a Geisha’ by Arthur Golden
‘The songlines’ by Bruce Chatwin
‘The kite runner’ by Khaled Hosseini
‘Bit of a Blur’ by Alex James


‘Freakonomics’ by S. Levitt and S. Dubner
‘On beauty’ by Zadie Smith
‘La misteriosa fiamma della regina Loana’ by Umberto Eco


‘Ritorno in Patagonia’ by Bruce Chatwin
‘In Patagonia’ by Bruce Chatwin
‘White teeth’ by Zadie Smith
‘The old man and the sea’ by Ernest Hemingway
‘The broker’ John Grisham
‘La peste’ by Albert Camus
‘La donna abitata’ by Gioconda Belli
‘Tre metri sopra il cielo’ by Federico Moccia
‘Oceanomare’ by Alessandro Baricco
‘Verso un’architettura’ by Le Corbusier
‘Straordinaria vita di William Petty’ by Alexandra Lapierre


‘Fever pitch’ by Nick Horby
‘Festa mobile’ Ernest Hemingway
‘Il codice da Vinci’ by Dan Brown
‘El arte de la guerra’ Sun Tzu
‘Breve historia de la Argentina’ by J.L. Romero
‘Once minutos’ by Paulo Coelho
‘Il principe’ by Niccolò Machiavelli
‘Il compagno’ by Cesare Pavese


‘Don Chisciotte’ by Miguel de Cervantes


‘Billy Budd’ by Herman Melville
‘Cuore di tenebra’ by Joseph Conrad
‘Il cavaliere inesistente’ by Italo Calvino


‘Antonio e Cleopatra’ by William Shakespeare
‘Il sogno di una notte di mezza estate” by William Shakespeare
‘Romeo e Giulietta’ by William Shakespeare
‘La tempesta’ by William Shakespeare
‘Otello’ by William Shakespeare
‘On the road’ by Jack Kerouac
‘I sotterranei’ by Jack Kerouac
‘The Dharma bums’ by Jack Kerouac
‘Il libro degli haiku’ by Jack Kerouac
‘Maggie Cassidy’ by Jack Kerouac
‘L’ultimo vagabondo’ by Jack Kerouac
‘Vecchio angelo mezzanotte’ by Jack Kerouac
‘Anatomia dell’irrequietezza’ by Bruce Chatwin
‘High fidelity’ by Nick Hornby
‘The autograph man’ by Zadie Smith
‘Trainspotting’ by Irvine Welsh
‘Ecstasy’ by Irvine Welsh
‘Acid house’ by Irvine Welsh
‘Sonno profondo’ by Banana Yoshimoto
‘Kitchen’ by Banana Yoshimoto
‘The wealth and poverty of nations’ by David Landes
‘La leggenda del santo bevitore’ by Joseph Roth
‘Siddharta’ by Herman Hesse
‘Etica per un figlio’ by Ferdinando Savater
‘Shopaholic abroad’ by Sophie Kinsella
‘Frankenstein’ by Mary Shelley
‘Uomini e topi’ by John Steinback
‘La morte di Ivàn Il’ič’ by Leo Tolstoy
‘Racconti del terrore’ by Edgar Allan Poe
‘Il ritratto di Dorian Gray’ by Oscar Wilde
‘La fattoria degli animali’ George Orwell
‘Le metamorfosi e altri racconti’ by Franz Kafka
‘La coscienza di Zeno’ by Italo Svevo
‘Teresa Raquin’ by Émile Zola
‘Blade runner’ by Philip K. Dick
‘Il giovane Holden’ by J.D. Salinger
‘Esercizi di stile’ by Raymond Queneau
‘Cuore di cane’ by Mikhail Bulgakov
‘La certosa di Parma’ by Stendhal
‘La notte’ by Elie Wiesel
‘L’amico ritrovato’ by Fred Uhlman
‘Come un romanzo’ by Daniel Pennac
‘I promessi sposi’ by Alessandro Manzoni
‘Il giornalino di Gian Burrasca’ by Vamba
‘Con gli occhi chiusi’ by Federigo Tozzi
‘Conversazione in Sicilia’ by Elio Vittorini
‘La chimera’ by Sebastiano Vassalli
‘Il giorno della civetta’ by Leonardo Sciascia
‘Quer pasticciaccio brutto de via Merulana’ by Carlo Emilio Gadda
‘L’esclusa’ by Luigi Pirandello
‘Non ti muovere’ by Margaret Mazzantini
‘Scena del crimine’ by C. Lucarelli e M. Picozzi
‘Sostiene Pereira’ by Alessandro Tabucchi
‘Il ladro di merendine’ by Andrea Camilleri
‘Il sentiero dei nidi di ragno’ by Italo Calvino
‘La luna e i falò’ by Cesare Pavese
‘Novecento’ by Alessandro Baricco
‘Il nome della rosa’ by Umberto Eco
‘Brit’ by Monica Melissano
‘Blur 3862 giorni’ by Stuart Maconie