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Top Revenue Streams For Artists

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Are you an upcoming artist or are you already blooming? Have you been looking for revenue streams that your music can create for you? Do you wonder how musicians earn from their songs? Do you also wonder about the different sources of income readily available to a musician? This article will provide answers to the questions that might have been bugging your mind.  Let’s dive into the money talk.

1. CD and DVD Sales: This is the foremost way of making money as an artist. Although it is fast becoming out of fashion, it used to be a good way artist get revenue. Sales of CDs to a wide fan base, using the appropriate distribution channels yield high income. Although this method is now out of fashion, artists still utilize the vinyl. Artists also sell vinyl copies to Dj’s Radio Stations, and exclusive fans. 



2. Streaming/Downloads: Due to technological innovation, it is now long passed time when CDs and DVDs are sold in brick stores. Music consumers and audiences do not have to go to stores to get the physical disks any longer as it can be done from the comfort of their phones, with ease. 

The accumulation of songs or album downloads and streams make up royalties for an artist. Artists should ensure that their music is on well-paying digital streaming platforms (DSPs) who will offer good rate for each stream or a number of streams and/or downloads.


3. Live Performances: An artist can make the most revenue from live performances from shows and tours. Ticket sales is a good way to make money; it is usually in categories, depending on how the artist or event manager wants to categorise the audience. However, an artist has to have attained certain career height before s/he can make reasonable profit margin from ticket sales from shows or tours. (check out What’s On for the next Afrobeats event close to you).


4. Licensing and Assignment: Licensing is synonymous to authorization given by an artist to third-parties who intend to make use of their music. This permission does not come free as the licensee is expected to pay royalties to the artist who owns the song. It could be a lump sum or in installments. It is important to bear in mind that licensing is territorial, and as such an artist can give licenses to third-parties in different territories and get royalties from those sources. Usually, the licence given here is Mechanical, otherwise called Right of Reproduction


Similar to Licensing is Assignment. An assignment is however different because it is the (outright) transfer of one’s right in a song or work to a third-party. Simply, the artist lets go of his/her right in the song. This is both advantageous and otherwise. Irrespective, it is often better to license one’s song than to assign it.

5. Brand Endorsement: As regards endorsement deals, artists with a lot of clout have more bargaining power when negotiating deals. Not to worry, artists who are not superstars still bag endorsement deals, however, ensure to have a good PR which endears brands to you. This way, brands will be willing to work with you. Ambassadorial deals are usually lucrative; however, artists should get an entertainment lawyer to help review their contracts to get the best of the deal(s) before signing it.


6. Merchandise: Artists can decide to brand products such as shirts, hoodie, caps etc and sell them to fans. Fans might not mind parting with a little amount of money to have their favourite artist’s customised merch. This is a two-way advantage for the artist as s/he gets revenue from the sale of the merchandise and also gets publicity from its usage by the fans. It’s a cool way to make money, think about it. Remember MI Abaga’s No Snake Tour and Merch?


7. Publishing Deal: An original song has two components: Composition and Sound recording/Master. If an artiste is a singer and songwriter, he owns the copyright over both. As such, a publishing deal with a music publisher can increase the revenue stream of an artist. The publisher ensures to collect royalties for an artist wherever his or her work is exploited.  

A music publisher also looks for avenues to ensure the utilisation of an artist’s work. This leads to what is called Synchronisation Licence. This is when a song is licensed to be used in tandem with a graphical work or video. It is often used for advertising or soundtracks of movies. A classic example is Black Panther: The Album, by Kendrick Lamar for the movie, Black Panther.  This does not come free; it puts money into the account of an artist.

Finally, artists can enhance the maximum utilisation of their works and career to attain financial buoyancy. To navigate the journey, it is important to have good lawyers, management amongst other. The above-mentioned means are some of the avenue an artist can increase his/her income.


Author: Adewola Asaolu

Legal Lite Advisory.


Written by: Lagosjumpteam

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Adewale Mayowa Emmanuel, better known by his stage name Mayorkun is a popular Nigerian musician, songwriter and pianist. He was born on the 23 of March 1994 in Osun state, Nigeria. He is the first out of three children, born into a family of entertainers. His father is an artist and a movie producer while his mum the veteran actress, Toyin Adewale. Mayorkun's interest in music began at a tender […]

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