Helping musicians make money

Dean Cameron
Dean Cameron
We've got some pretty cool music industry people in New Zealand, and some of them are putting on a free "How to Make Money from Your Music" seminar in Dunedin on Wednesday.

Speakers Dean Cameron (Recorded Music NZ member services manager) and Andy Low (general manager at digital distributor DRM) provided a taste of the insights you can expect to glean from the seminar.

Q How easy is it to make money from music compared to 10 years ago?

Dean: It is important to understand what potential income streams are available while understanding where your audience/market is so you can maximise those opportunities. When an artist releases music today, they must consider not only their local market but the global one and capitalise on any opportunity they have to reach audiences around the world. Additionally, recorded music revenues have been on the rise for the past four years so, while it's still tough, the opportunities are increasing.

Andy: New opportunities regularly emerge and that's the side of things we aim to keep on top of as a music distributor in the digital landscape.

Q What is the role of "the music industry" today now that making and recording music is cheaper/more accessible for individuals?

Dean: While an artist can self-manage all aspects of their career if they wish, don't underestimate the value of having a good team around you - be it management, booking, publicity, label/distribution etc. In today's musical landscape you really only get one chance so you need to make sure it's your best.

Andy: The industry today should enable the artist to effectively reach their existing fanbase and, ideally, beyond it.

Q Can you speak to the conflict between making music as art and making music as a product? Is asking "how can I make money from my music" jeopardising your artistic integrity?

Dean: I don't see it as a conflict. All music holds value and, ultimately, the way music is made available is with the musician. My recommendation is to make music that you are proud of and you want your audience to hear, but it is also important to understand your rights and potential income opportunities.

Andy: Everyone has to put food on the plate and keep a roof over the head, if that can be done in a manner that also affords creative expression, that's fantastic.

Andy Low
Andy Low
Q Do you have any thoughts on the role of "algorithms" such as auto-generated Spotify playlists and how they're shaping the music people hear and make?

Dean: All digital music services present music in a variety of ways and most curate playlists for their users. While all services have different functionality, it remains up to the individual user to choose what song they would like to listen to. Curated playlists are there for listeners who are interested in exploring genres or scenes, and for a Kiwi artist, being added to some playlists can expose them to massive audiences globally that would have been otherwise unavailable. They benefit both artist and music consumer.

Andy: Tonnes, of which there are multiple pros and cons. Happy to discuss this further on the night!

Q Who is this seminar for?

Dean: The seminar is really for musicians, artists, bands, managers, record labels and anyone who just wants to understand how the industry works a little better.

Andy: Musicians, songwriters and producers of all ages with any level of experience in the industry. Look forward to seeing you there!

The event 

How To Make Money From Your Music, Wednesday, July 24, Dunedin Public Library at 6pm. Thanks to a music grant from Recorded Music NZ and an arts grant from Dunedin City Council, entry is free but bookings are essential. RSVP to to secure a seat.

 - Fraser Thompson


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