Royalties is the money you receive from streaming platforms or collection societies like UPRS and MCSK. Don’t be discouraged if the amounts are small at the start. Royalties generally are not for bills. Your bills should be covered by gigs/shows/concerts during your prime.
Royalties should be invested into a Unit Trust Fund. These Funds invest small amounts and return interest. The new amount with interest is then reinvested and returned with interest. Compounding is earning interest on interest and is a powerful way to grow value. With compounding, even small amounts can grow over time. So now let’s see how to make some money.
1. Be Present Internationally
Get your music onto all major, legitimate, regional/international platforms – Spotify, Deezer, Tidal, BoomPlay, YouTube, Mdundo, etc. Distribution is largely commoditized so it’s quite cheap and quick to get your music onto these platforms today with services like TuneCore, DistroKid, etc. Once you do this, please take note of your ISRC for each song then use the same code consistently every time you reference your song in money conversations going forward. That way tracking your money becomes easy.
2. Share Links Not Files
The best way to share your music is by using a link to the legitimate streaming platforms mentioned above. That way, when one clicks the link to listen, you will earn from that stream. Sharing files does not earn you any streaming dollars. The only people you should be sharing files with are DJs and radio/TV stations since they require this format to include you in their playlists/programming. Everyone else should stream from a legitimate platform.
3. Educate Your Fans
International platforms are increasingly launching subscription plans across Africa. Spotify recently launched a UGX 10,000 / KES 300 monthly subscription plan in Uganda and Kenya respectively. Airtel has launched an Airtel Money Mastercard. This means a large number of your fans can now access your music legitimately, and affordably, without piracy. They can use a mobile money-based virtual card to pay for these subscription plans to stream music. Educate your fans about these options. Show them how easy it is to legitimately consume your art so you can continue to deliver great work.
4. Create Your Own Website / Online Store
Set up a transaction-ready website with your content. This way, you will offer special products, control your pricing, and earn better margins. Your true fans will prefer to buy directly from you because they are fully aware of the math. The website might cost a little but the margins will be so much better. You will also have the ability to create special offers e.g. order my next release and get 50% off your performance booking etc. These offers are difficult to do if you don’t have your own website.