Musicians throughout Nigeria have primarily focused their efforts to expanding their networks through live performances. Artists who compose their own musical works have opportunities to showcase their talents at performance venues, concert halls, bars, and many other places locally with the hopes of being discovered.
However, are playing gigs and performing at venues the best way to accumulate revenue for musicians?
Up until the global pandemic of COVID-19, there weren’t many other options that musicians explored for earning revenue besides playing live shows. However, when the pandemic hit and people were forced to stay home, concerts and live performances were canceled, so playing at any venue was no longer an option.
Many Nigerian musicians and other independent artists around the world found themselves having to pivot their normal methods of producing income and find new, innovative ways to make money while staying relevant within the music industry. Many of these methods took the form of online distribution and opportunities through digital streaming.
So, what are these potential alternative income streams? And more importantly, can they provide sustainability for working musicians? Here we will explore the different avenues that many musicians have taken and how it has helped them continue providing entertainment.
TEACHING MUSIC LESSONS ONLINE
Musicians with great skill in an instrument or voice have provided online music lessons for students. Offering music lessons for those who want to learn is an excellent way of sharing your knowledge and love of music with others. In addition, there are multiple video conference platforms and apps to make sound delays avoidable so that you can simulate the ease of teaching music to others while earning revenue.
The United States’ based school, Music To Your Home, had numerous teachers that weren’t sure what to do in the uncertain times. However, discovering the ability to offer online classes for the piano and other instruments not only helped the teachers to continue securing their income, but many of them found that they were able to improve their skills by continuing to teach even in an online setting.
PERFORMING AN ONLINE CONCERT
Musicians found that they could actually broaden their reach by offering live-streamed concerts or online performances for fans since venues have limited capacity. There are many ways to engage fans to buy online “tickets” and watch a live or pre-recorded performance. In addition, some online venues provide services to promote your ticket sales and even distribute your live stream for you.
YouTube is another option for performing online, either in a live format or pre-recorded. If you haven’t already, creating a YouTube channel as a solo artist or a band helps you reach a bigger audience and still entertain by providing music. You could even go so far as to take some courses in learning to edit videos or invest in some video software to create original videos to share. Some musicians develop “episodes” almost like in reality television, where they might feature or launch a new song. There is a lot of opportunity for creativity when you add a visual element to your music.
ONLINE MASTERCLASSES OR MUSIC COURSES
You can incorporate teaching in another way rather than individualized lessons online by creating an online masterclass or music course. Taking this option involves developing a course or a class revolving around a particular aspect of music that you have a vast knowledge of and sharing your expertise with an in-depth, interactive or educational course for others to purchase.
When creating your own course online, you have a lot of work that needs to be done upfront. For example, you will probably need to record videos or make slideshows, demonstrate techniques or methods with visual aids, and efficiently walk students through learning an instrument (or whatever your musical expertise is – voice, sound engineering, songwriting, etc.).
Then, once you have created the class or workshop, you can promote it to your fans by marketing across social media platforms to generate revenue with a flat fee or a subscription (if you plan to expand on your course). It is an excellent option for musicians to earn income passively since once the course or class is complete, your work is done besides possibly adding new areas or updating the course as time passes.
LICENSE YOUR MUSIC OR SUBMIT TO MUSIC BLOGS
Other Nigerian musicians have come across music licensing, which is a way for composers and musicians who create their own original tracks to be used or featured in different ways. As long you know your copyrights and what it means to license, this is a great way to expose your music and earn income. Licensing contracts and agreements will need to be signed so that you grant permission for others to use your music in these ways, which might include:
- Online Advertisements
- Video Productions
- Music Videos
Musicians have the opportunity to work with a music licensing company or pitch to producers, music supervisors, and other creatives without the use of a company. It can bring in substantial income, especially when developing solid relationships with producers and creatives who will utilize your music not just one time but for future licenses on multiple different musical works.
Submitting music to music blogs is yet another option where musicians gain more exposure and grow their following, which adversely affects your income. Music blogs like Indie Shuffle always reach out to emerging or unsigned music artists to feature on their websites.
NO LIMITS TO CREATIVITY
Embracing technology and learning about the vast options that moving to the online world provides musicians has developed many new ways to continue producing music and engaging new fans. The mentioned methods are not limited; as musicians, you can let your creativity flow and find ways to reach a new audience.
Sustaining your music career does involve a lot of effort and innovation. However, relying on live performance as the only source to promote your music negatively impacted independent musicians since the pandemic forced venue closures and took that away. If the pandemic has done anything positive, it has proved to artists that exploring alternative opportunities and creating new revenue streams can be more beneficial, fulfilling, and profitable.