The video above contains an interview clip from Black Eyed Peas founder and music producer will.i.am.
will.iam addresses a very important question in the interview…how do you make money in the music industry when so much music is available via free streaming?
He provides a very solid answer to this question by communicating that “artists are supposed to make money when they come up with other things to sell, and use their music to sell it”.
A successful example of this being done is with Dr.Dre and Jimmy Lovine selling Beats by Dre. Instead of Dre just focusing on album sales, he strengthened his brand with the Beats by Dre headphones, and generated a great deal of income in addition to his album sales.
Artists should take a lesson from this and focus on not only being creative with their music, but be creative building your brand and differentiate yourself in the music industry so you can become a viable player.
Creativity is important, but you also must work smarter. Spending more time building your brand can set you up for more success now and in your future. Instead of focusing all of your efforts on selling albums, try writing your own songs to make money from publishing songs. Also, creating your own festivals, going on tour, selling out venues (as will.i.am communicated in the video) and selling band merchandise can be a great way to bring in more income. As you grow your fan base this in turn can result in much higher music sales.
Instead of marveling at how other musicians like Ron Pope make a good living from sites like Spotify (which does not create sustainable income for many musicians) learn how else they are making waves and gaining success in the music industry so you can also set yourself up for success.
The music industry overall may not have figured this out yet, but learn to build your brand and diversify your contributions in the music industry (e.g. songwriting, music publishing, create music related products that can help increase your music sales), and you can position yourself to have long term success in the music industry.