Monetizing your Music (or Art) part 1
For anyone with a creative skill whether it be music or art of some kind, there seems to be one thing that eludes many if not most of us. That is attempting to make a living doing something we love. Especially since many of us already gladly do it for free. I have a few opinions on this subject as I’ve been on both sides of the fence that I’d like to share..
For any of you who have followed me for any length of time, you know that I am an Author, Producer, Ableton coach & DJ. These are all things that I love to do(some things more than others). and here is the big kicker….
I get paid for these things!
But, it wasn’t always the case. I struggled for years..decades in fact.
From my personal experience, nothing really changed much for me until I began to shift my attitude about money and about the people who have it. Of course I am speaking pretty generally, but I do believe you would be surprised with the results you can attain with a simple shift in your perspective.
How does this make you feel when someone like me asks to get paid for some of the services I provide? Does it bother you that I would put a value on something that others might give away for free? Does it bother you that you aren’t making money doing what you love or do you think think monetizing your art is a big no-no?
I want to explore these thoughts deeper in this post.
I notice there is quite a backlash from small group of people with anything I do that involves an exchange of currency. I have had this attitude in the past myself. It looks a bit like this..
“Who does this guy think he IS trying to trick me into buying products when I only joined this newsletter to get free information.”
Of course there are others that send emails all the time asking when the next product is going to come out, making suggestions on the subject matter and letting the me know how much they have enjoyed what they have already purchased. These people would be pretty disappointed I you didn’t let them know about new promotions and products. Of course if they don’t find what you have to offer useful, they can simply delete the email and wait for more of the free stuff. That is totally fine.
What I really want to explore is what these different statements say about your attitude about money. One says:
“I barely have enough myself and I’ll be damned if I’m going to offer any to you.”,
while another says:
“Hmm.. interesting, what can I gain from this? Does this seem like it will deliver more value than the asking price? What is the ultimate cost if I Don’t purchase this”.
Remember.. Money is nothing until it is exchanged for something that benefits your life in one way or another. Why would you only allow yourself the experience of absolute necessities and deny yourself the things you actually WANT? This leads to a cycle of lower quality life experiences which in turn leads to less creative inspiration
and finally very little value to offer back to the world.
When you trade your money for things you actually want and think will give you enjoyment, your life experience becomes much more open and expansive.
It really comes down to:
Give more, receive more
Give less, receive less
Which do you value more? Money or Experiences?
I am not trying to put my services up on a pedestal here but rather coming at this subject from my own personal experience. By exploring the way you might feel about my services, perhaps we can uncover the very reason you struggle making an income from your own form of art.
You hear it everywhere… Do what you love and the money will follow. Although I wholeheartedly agree with this statement, this statement makes no comment on the necessity for you to have a healthy attitude about giving and receiving money.
Many people get stuck in this zone because if they DO move toward that thing they love, more often than not they are doing it as a hobby for free. When you spend too much time in the “FREE zone”, you create a mental block toward generating income from it. On top of that, you think others who ARE making a living doing what they love are probably full of crap sellout’s. If they hadn’t sold their soul to the dark side, they would be struggling just like the rest of us.
This is a pretty serious mental block. This actually makes you feel guilty for supporting yourself doing what you love. It also keeps your mind closed to all the opportunities that may be right in front of you.
Do you think it’s a coincidence that the people who complain about other people’s success seem to be the same people that are struggling themselves? When you frown on others success, you almost guarantee your own struggle with success.
As you certainly know, I give a lot of things away for free and I really do my best to answer all my emails and offer my time to those who need help. This is not something that I will stop doing as I enjoy helping people through their creative struggles. Of course I benefit from the free content I give away in that I am exposed to more people. For the most part, I don’t ask for anything in return besides maybe sharing my videos and blogs with a friend if you think they might like it. I also share relevant product releases that I create (or ones that others create that I find to be fantastic).
Some people get quite huffy when they find that I have a product available that actually costs money. They actually refer to these products as “spam” even though the products are directly related to the same subjects that attract the person to my newsletter in the first place!
Now I don’t know about you, but I personally get excited about new products that I can learn from. I would be upset if I WASN’T told about these products! I’m a firm believer in supporting the people I learn most from. I may start out as a bit of a skeptic when I come across somebody new, so I may check out the person’s free blog or maybe a viral ebook, newsletter or a collection of free videos. Once I give this person a stamp of approval, I am thrilled to consider paying for products they make available. It’s like when Mac releases a new product. I never get mad about it, I get excited. I don’t think “no i can’t afford this, who do they think they are charging this much!”. Instead I think “is it worth it? Will this deliver more value than they are asking?” If the answer is yes, it’s not a question of affording it. It’s a question of figuring out HOW to afford it. I am by no means rich and I can’t do anything thing I want any time I want, but I do enjoy creative freedom and a wealth of time that I try to use wisely(with varying levels of success).
I think the only difference between me making a small living from my creative endeavors and those who struggle with it is that I have allowed myself to receive value in return for the value I give. I don’t feel guilt about it because I know I’ve worked hard to create whatever I am selling. I know the transition from giving your creative services away for free to asking for something in return can be uncomfortable but I want you to really pay attention to those feelings.
Lets do a little experiment:
Think of a service you offer that you either don’t get paid for, or get paid very little for…
Now think of the time that goes into that service…
Think about someone paying you $5 an hour for that service.
Now $20 per hour for the same service.
$100 an hour…..
How about $500 per hour?
What you might notice is that as the number goes up, so does your discomfort. This is important to look at because it tells you something insightful.
It is YOU, not anyone else, that creates your own financial limits.
If you can’t say that you are worth $500 an hour with a straight face and MEAN it, you can guarantee not to ever see it (Don’t worry, I’m not yet there either).
Now this is where it gets interesting.
When and if you DO come to terms with making this kind of money, you will also notice that you really step up the value you are offering (I’m assuming you aren’t a con artist here, but then again, con artists con people because they don’t truly believe they have the value that they are asking for).
I guess what I am trying to say is that money is a mental game. You ultimately don’t earn more than you feel you are worth.
Now what really ticks people off who have low financial self esteem is when somebody comes along and puts a higher price tag on their services than you would be comfortable with yourself. This is a serious challenge to your own belief system and that can be a blow to the ego. Many of these people, instead of being happy and excited for these people prefer to knock these people down and rip apart their imperfections (as if perfection is a prerequisite for financial success). Again, I am not suggesting that you give your services a high price tag and then deliver little to no value in return. I am simply suggesting you know what you are worth and that you don’t have any hangups in asking for it.
I urge you to attempt to take on a different perspective, if only for 30 days, to see if you can not only be happy for successful people, but to learn from them. Everybody is going to have their own style and I certainly have my opinions about certain types of music. I’ve decided to embrace it anyway, as an experiment and see what nuggets I can pull from it. Sometimes it’s difficult for me to find those nuggets, but when i do, they can be pretty valuable.
I’m certainly not suggesting you try to make your art as commercial as possible in the name of the almighty dollar. Far from it. But, you may find a technique in presentation or marketing, or perhaps a trend that you can tweak that can take your results to a whole new level.
In the next post I’ll get into some practical ways to monetize your art… stay tuned..
Happy Music (and Art) Making,
With that said, if you are benefiting from these posts, you will absolutely love my 2 bestselling books:
The Mental Game of Music Production
The Process for Electronic Music Producers
You can also Check out the: Ableton Courses & Instruments
If you are looking for personal guidance with your music production or Ableton, you can set up a free chat with me to go over exactly what your best next steps are to create the best music of your life. If it seems like a good fit, we can move forward from there. https://musicsoftwaretraining.com/private-coaching
Happy music making!
I tend to agree with you. Mostly. I have also had my share of successturning my art into business. But I have a strange reservation which bugs me and it’s this . . . Every time I “monetize” an artistic skill – be it making music, websites, films – it loses all its attraction for me. I wrote a blog about this very subject actually (http://www.edwinjameslynch.com/2009/06/do-your-all work-love-your-hobby/ … and no, I’m not trying to generate traffic ;). I love my hobbies, so I try to keep everything I love in the “hobby” bucket. Stuff I kinda like, I get paid for and I have a really bad attitude about that. If someone wants me to do a job which will take me away from my hobby, they’d better get a thick wad out because they are interrupting my life. And my life (which incorporates my hobbies) is very precious.
Thank you for this Excellent; Very Thought Provoking; and to some; quite Provocative Blog;
I found it Extremely interesting as I am in the(current)frame of mind that I offer my Music for Free as I am not yet Established or Recognised; and for that reason feel that I am ‘Not Good Enough’; when in Reality what I have to offer is Equal to all others;
You have Inspired me to take a look at my ‘Attitude’ towards myself; which is a Great thing; and one of the reasons I follow (and read) each and every Blog you send me;
I unfortunately only have an income (after Rent) of $40 per month; however; when this situation changes I will Gladly purchase your Packages as they are Exceptionally Reasonable in Cost; but Artistically worth Ten Times More to me;
With Best Regards to you Jason;
I haven’t read anything this profoundly interesting in a very long time. I swear I want to donate to you just for having the balls to write it.
I have taken much of what you wrote into consideration and have “freed” myself & services to death. I don’t think you could have hit it anymore on the head that you did. Fantastic points, which venture in my mind off to different subjects I really struggle with creatively. I could write an essay on this, but I’ll be very specific, take for example the artist “Skrillex” it’s all there, whether anyone likes it or not, this guy is a genius, and he’s in his twenties traveling the world. Someone like myself thinks his art is incredible from an “outside the box” perspective. I see everyone trying to rip him off and tearing him down, yet his creations just get bolder and more mystifying. I know that I could never be another Skrillex, and the initial feeling is that I actually wouldn’t want to! I want this guy to keep pushing the envelope! sure I downloaded his stuff for free but he has created a foundation and a reason for his audience to want more. Once his album drops, honestly, it is worth whatever price in order to support his efforts in a game that is now changing more rapidly than ever. New “tracks” are released EVERY week, but very few “songs” with shelf-life are. His stuff has that (IMHO) magic that is one in a million. On the flip side of the coin, you have producers traveling the world making tracks that pretty much destroy anything you could conjure with years of training with software and they are doing it (creating tracks) in FL Studio in a day, getting them mixed, mastered and released onto major labels within a couple days time. From my perspective, beginning in 1996 with Cool Edit Pro, and evolving up until now with Logic, I know I don’t have the capability to pull of such things in a short period of time, since I don’t have 8 or 9 hours a day to watch tutorials on youtube. Sounds bitter right? Almost to the point where i’m saying “screw it all” but for some reason, I keep on. These kids have gotten farther in a few years than I have in the last decade based solely on “shock” value alone! The other part of me says “step up your game” right? So I tried this. Installed FL, watched some tutorials, stared at it for hours and my conscience blared out to me…hey man! this isn’t you. Things have changed. Every third person is a DJ or producer, and since Youtube, every 1/3 is a star. My plan? shut the computer off, go back to music school, lock myself in a room with real instruments and an 8 track recorder and come out with something meaningful. Weekend tracks are fun to play in a DJ set, but those tracks (these days) will last exactly that long…the weekend.
Will I pay for those “weekend” tracks? probably not, it’s like a broken gumball machine free-for-all inundation of music. If I created something from this day forth, I will not hesitate to ask for support. Why? Because I am sick of lying to myself working a day job. I have so much to offer to people. If I can take them to a far-off place or make them dance or smile, you’re damn right that is worth $.99 cents. If I feel that creation is a culmination of EVERYTHING I am capable of, and I put my soul into it, explaining that is basically asking for people to support it. More importantly, when people like you and appreciate your work, usually they are the first ones asking…”Hey…how much for the album!” What a humbling feeling. I hope to have more of these.
Thanks for the insight and being awesome.
Nice post. It has been my mission in life to make a living from the creative things I enjoy doing. I too struggled with Edwin’s dilemma. The problem doesn’t arise the moment I make money from a creative process. It happens once the creative process start to feel like an assembly line. The only solution I’ve found is once this happens, take a break and move on to something else for as long as it takes for that inspiration to come back…