Interview on Unsigned Friday

Emily Chudy asks me some questions for the Unsigned Friday column on Get West London.

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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.

Releases

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.

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I got $66.26.

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


Gigs

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.

MY APPROACH

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.

Free.
I invest my time, not my money.

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

Consistency.
There is no silver bullet.

WEBSITE

WORDPRESS
Free
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).
https://seretrouble.com/


SOCIAL & ONLINE PRESENCE

SOUNDCLOUD
Free
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.
https://soundcloud.com/seretrouble

FACEBOOK MUSICIAN/BAND PAGE
Free
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.
https://www.facebook.com/seretroubleofficial

YOUTUBE
Free
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.
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCrNWlpuQQA751-oWHp4IEzg

TWITTER
Free
I use it to share some updates, photos and details for a gig.
I mainly use it as a ‘broadcast’ tool.
https://twitter.com/SereTrouble

BANDPAGE
Free
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.
https://www.bandpage.com/seretroubleofficial

BANDCAMP
Free
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.
https://seretrouble.bandcamp.com/


REGISTRATION AND DISTRIBUTION

PRS
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.
https://www.prsformusic.com/

RECORD UNION
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.
https://www.recordunion.com/Profile/39539


ONLINE TOOLS

SONGKICK TOURBOX
Free
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.
https://www.songkick.com/artists/8398438-sere-trouble

THE UNSIGNED GUIDE
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.
http://www.theunsignedguide.com/

MAD MIMI
Free
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.
https://madmimi.com

GODADDY
Pay per domain
It is the platform I have used to register my domain seretrouble.com .
https://godaddy.com

PAYPAL
It collects fees based on how you use it
I opened an account to be able to easily collect payments online.
https://www.paypal.com/

GMAIL
Free
My email provider of choice, together with Google Inbox to manage my emails.
mail.google.com


SERVICES I USED

LANDR
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.
https://www.landr.com/en

MOBINEKO
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.
http://www.mobineko.com/


OTHER ACCOUNTS

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).

LASTFM || BBC INTRODUCING || PERISCOPE || LIVAMP || WIX || SHOPIFY || MUSICBRAINZ || TRADIIO || PATREON || BOOKYA || ELANCE & ODESK || MUSICGLUE || GIGMIT.COM || DELICIOUS || VEROMUSE || BOX || GOOGLE+ || VINE || TAD


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