How To Make Money as a Band
So you just started a band with a few of your friends or you have been playing a few local shows here and there. You’re ready to quit your day job, but the “Artist” thing doesn’t pay very well yet. My advice would be to not quit your day job quite yet, but to read this blog to see how you can start making steps in the right direction.
The biggest mistakes that most bands make is that they find the cheapest way to make merch for their merch tables at their shows. The problem with this is that even though most people like to buy and wear band tees, they prefer to buy and wear cool and nice band tees. Make sure your T-Shirts fit well, the fabric is comfortable, and won’t fall apart after a few washes. Next make sure you have good graphics and printing on the shirts. Nobody wants a T-Shirt that says, “The Rolling Stones” in Comic Sans across the front of it. Usually, screen printers have an in-house graphic designer and they can help you make your shirts stand out more.
Setting up a website for your band and having a way to sell your merch online could be extremely valuable. Here is a way to set it up for either completely free or for a small fee, depending on who you use to host your website. Printful is a T-Shirt dropshipping company. You can upload all of your graphics and pick out your T-Shirts and when someone orders one from your site, they get the order, print the shirt, and ship it out to the customer. You make a smaller profit on the shirts, but your money is not tied up in inventory. You can also have an unlimited amount of designs. SPOILER ALERT: We use Printful for our shirts and you can see our merch page HERE.
Putting your songs up on Spotify, Apple Music, Deezer, etc. is much easier than you might think. You don’t need to be signed to a label or distribution company. It is also extremely affordable, from $10 a year for a single to one flat fee for a whole album. Here are a few that our artists use: TuneCore, Distrokid, CD Baby. Streaming doesn’t make many millionaires but it helps small bands put a little money in their pockets.
The biggest sources of income for most bands are playing shows and touring. You can collect both from ticket sales and merch sales while also connecting with new fans to drive streaming revenue. The first place to start would be to create an EPK (Electronic Press Kit) to send out to venues. It is going to be a slow start, but if you keep track of ticket sales and show attendance/draw, you can then approach a booking company and they may begin to help you book shows and tours. They usually take a small percentage (around 10%) off the top, but that is more than worth it when it finally gives you the chance to quit your day job.