LL Cool J once said on one of his songs, “The music is the fuel/A perfect place for emcees to duel,” what he meant was that any hot rapper, singer etc needs a good production to make a good song, and that sometimes even if you’re the best singer or rapper without that hot beat behind you, you’re more likely to fall flat. That was just my way of putting it out there how important music producers are yet in most cases especially in South Africa they aren’t getting the recognition they deserve let alone paid fairly for their hard work. So I’ve put together some ways and strategies to assist music producers diversify their income streams.
Sell your Productions
This is the obvious one thus I started with it, however even though it may seem a bit simple and many may say …“ How difficult can it be, I know I’m a beast producer, I’ll make beats and sell them”. But from experience its actually not that easy to start selling beats, the S.A music industry is quite small and a lot of the artists use the same producers on songs, take for e.g. in Hip Hop all major players will get beats from Ganja Beats, Lunatik or Tweezy etc. Which closes room for all the underground producers to get a piece of the action. And most South African artists do not value producers so they don’t see the need to pay big bucks for a beat. Thus you need to be strategic about it,
- Build your brand as a Producer – Work on improving your brand, ensure your social media is on point, your image and presentation needs to be proper. Have a nice website where clients can preview your work. The chances of someone taking you seriously and paying you big bucks increase when you treat your work professionally.
- Promotion as a Tradeoff for Payment – If you get a chance to work with an artist who’s big or has some sort of influence, when they negotiate payment, you can always suggest for a low rate they need to do something for you in return, have you as the main producer on the artwork, a few tweets about how great of a producer you are or mention you in the song. It applies even if you’re just producing for friends, they need to promote you so you can get more paying business.
Build a Home Recording Studio
Sometimes selling beats can be a bit slow when starting out; so building your own studio and charging people to record can at least bring in some income your way. A lot of up and coming rappers, singers etc are always looking for cheaper ways to record and let’s be honest, there’s only a few people that have recording facilities. A decent home studio gear can cost you +- 10K, and say you get about 4 clients at minimum a week at R250 per session, That’s an easy R 4000 /month
Mixing and Mastering
This is another income stream that producers can dwell into, if you’re already a producer. It’s worth taking the time to learn how to mix and master a song. I know a lot of producers who just stick to producing and leave mixing and mastering to the sound engineers. But when you starting out, you need all the cash you can get, so when you have no production jobs, you can offer mixing and mastering for clients, I know a lot of up and coming engineers who charge +- 1000 to for both these services, so with 4 clients a month, Its another easy R4000.
Another way of earning is through royalties, but this needs you to leave the studio a bit and educate yourself on how royalties work because its quite a tricky concept, maybe that’s because that’s where the big money is. So it’s definitely worth learning and knowing so you can better negotiate royalty percentages for people you producer for. Take DJ Maphorisa for instances, He made a lot of his money in the background off royalties, Its only now that he’s getting into the spotlight but he’s already a millionaire.
Radio, TV & Film Scoring
This is another form of making money, which is less popular but has good money. However this kind of industry maybe be difficult to break into and may require a bit of connects but its definitely worth pursuing. For TV & Film this has to do with producing music that synchronises with the picture and helps bring the story to life, The emotional sounds that play in the background in movies, and for radio, you can do jiggles and radio ads for clients.
Most Important Educate Yourself about the music industry
There’s a lot of money to be made as a producer but sadly you need to know how the industry operates, Such things like royalties and music laws can be tricky and confusing but its worth knowing and understanding. Even if you just know a high level overview and get someone to manage you who has an in-depth knowledge about the music industry, I know a lot of producers think they don’t need a manager but they do , so that they can solely focus on the music and manager on the business side.