Making Money as a Developing Artist
A Few Suggestions
Vivek J. Tiwary
Many artists find it extremely difficult to financially survive when they're making little to no money from shows and either don't have a CD to sell or aren't selling very many copies. Indeed, it can be difficult to cover the basic costs of being a musical artist -- rehearsal space, equipment, mailing lists, etc. This article is written to provide some simple suggestions and guidelines for obtaining a little cash to keep your act afloat. By no means is this supposed to be a comprehensive or perfect list -- the best ways to make money are through creative models you'll need to come up with yourself -- but here are some basic ideas and advice that I hope you will find helpful.
1. Investors and Angels
You might be able to find some kind souls -- sometimes referred to as "angels" -- who are willing to invest some money in your act primarily because they believe in you and/or your band, and they simply want to help subsidize your costs. They don't necessarily expect a great financial return on their investment. Angel investing is far more common in the theatre and film industries, where aggressive producers work hard raising money to get expensive projects off the ground. But successful angel investing is feasible in the music industry as well. Angel investors are usually (though certainly not always) family members or friends who have money. When you approach people about investing money in your act, make it clear that you may not be able to pay them back anytime soon. Do not promise that you will repay the money in good time in order to convince a potential investor or sweeten a potential deal, because there is a good chance you will not be able to live up to that promise. In fact, if you need to do a lot of convincing, you probably shouldn't take the potential investor's money at all. As noted above, true angel investors aren't motivated by the promise of a return on their investment. That being said, it will be difficult to get outright financial "donations" -- most investors will want some kind of repayment arrangement and/or return built into the agreement. That's clearly both reasonable and fair. But the return should be a set lump sum of money beyond the amount initially invested, and payable in stages over time with annual interest.