We are currently living in an unprecedented era around music creation and touring. Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, all business has been forced to become remote, making it difficult for artists to maintain their usual level of activity. Of course, though the music landscape looks totally different right now, artists are finding new and innovative ways to get their music heard, be it through livestreams, engaging with fans via social media or launching subscription models that offer exclusive content to fans. To that end, here’s a rundown of some exciting new apps and tools for recording and monetizing your music in the COVID-19 era.
There are plenty of social media options for getting your work out there: Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, TikTok and Twitch are just some of the possible platforms you can use to capture your recording.
There’s also a new all-in-one app called RMusick, which allows songwriters to collaboratively write music on the go. Not only does RMusick let you to record ideas directly onto a virtual project file, but you can punch in new lines, edit takes, invite other collaborators from your address book, type lyrics, undo takes and communicate with project members from within the app.
Live Broadcast & Streaming Channels
Facebook: According to a new Remote Musicians Handbook put together by the Berklee College of Music, Facebook is the best venue for livestreaming if your audience skews a little older.
Instagram: Meanwhile, Instagram, which has a feature that allows other people to join your live stream as guests, is ideal for younger audiences. “Based on your social media engagement on each platform, you can make an informed decision about which platform will be best for your fans,” the handbook writes. “Both of these are well-suited for unannounced livestreams as notifications will go out to engaged fans, as well as letting your fans know ahead of time when you will be streaming.”
YouTube: Then there’s YouTube, which offers a number of monetization options and scheduling tools, such as pre-stream and in-stream ads, donations and merch sales. YouTube will even notify your followers when you go live and will allow you to schedule a live stream ahead of time. And as the stream takes place, YouTube lets viewers ask questions and interact with the streamer.
TikTok: If you’re on the super music-friendly app TikTok, did you know that you can activate a live stream if you have more than 1,000 followers? Once watching your livestream, viewers can purchase stickers, and a portion of the money is donated to the streamer. According to the aforementioned handbook, on TikTok these purchases are made using “coins.” Coins start at $0.99 for 65 coins and go up to $99.99 for 6,697 coins. In turn, users can buy stickers, called “Virtual Gifts,” for anywhere from 1 to 100 coins.
Twitch: The video game streaming platform can be useful for engaging new fans. Because this app hosts as many as 4 million viewers at once (according to TwitchTracker) actively encourages discovering new streamers, artists can show up under Twitch’s “Music & Performing Arts” section (with 2.3 million followers). Here, according to the handbook, “the music ranges from metal to violin covers to singer-songwriters, and is generally more diverse genre-wise than more mainstream platforms.”
If you want to monetize your work on Twitch, know that streamers get paid when new subscribers follow them and viewers donate to the streamer. Some streamers use new followers and donations as mechanisms to unlock new content or segments. Some will take requests at certain follower count or donation levels, others run merch giveaways, or give followers access to exclusive content.
OBS Software: OBS (Open Broadcaster Software) is free and open source software for video recording and live streaming. Stream to Twitch, YouTube and many other providers.
Nugs.net: Get live music on demand. Nugs.net offers a collection of more than 15,000 full-length concert recordings from the likes of Pearl Jam, Widespread Panic, Umphrey’s McGee, Dead & Company and more. Try it free with a 30-day trial.
Houseparty: This social networking service enables group video chatting through mobile and desktop apps. Users receive a notification when friends are online and available to group video chat.
StageIt: Founded in 2009, Stageit is a web-based performance venue that hosts paid livestreamed performances. Artists choose when they want to perform, for how long, and how much they want to charge.
Crowdcast: This video platform hosts live video Q&As, interviews, summits, webinars and more.
Streamlabs: This streaming platform can stream audio to Twitch, YouTube and Facebook.
BandsInTown: Use BandsInTown to promote your live stream shows. You can even engage new fans and monetize shows through BandsInTown’s Twitch partnership.
Fan & Membership Platforms
Patreon: Patreon gives fans access to exclusive artist content for a monthly fee, might be the first option that comes to mind when it comes to fan and membership platforms. But Patreon is only the beginning. Gumroad lets creators offer digital and physical products for sale, while its dashboard provides insight into how your sales are doing and how fans are consuming your content.
Squarespace: Offers subscription products in their store, integrating directly with your website and can be sold alongside your other merch products.
Shopify: For $40/month, Shopify offers apps that allow you to offer subscriptions from your Shopify ecommerce store, which is helpful if you are offering physical goods as part of your subscription.
Bandzoogle: Sell music, merch, downloads and tickets, commission-free. Once you add a store, you can start selling music, downloads, tickets and band merch. Monthly fees start at $8.29.
Ghost: With Ghost, which is free to join, you can publish content online, grow an audience with email newsletters and make money from premium memberships.
Memberful: Memberful helps independent publishers, educators, and creators sell memberships to their audience and build sustainable businesses. You can integrate with WordPress, send email newsletters, create private podcasts and more. Pricing is free to start and goes up to $25 or $100 per month.
Digital Production Marketplaces, including licensing and sell music, samples, and custom sounds:
Splice: Splice Studio gives you access to millions of royalty-free samples, MIDI and presets on mobile, web and desktop for $7.99/mo.
ScoreAScore: This music production, licensing and supervision company puts producers in need of original music directly in contact with the composers who create it.
Beatstars: Beatstars is an online marketplace to buy and sell beats.
Putting The Plan Into Action
Now that you have the tools, all you need is to put a plan into action. The Remote Musicians Handbook suggests that you first analyze your audience to get a sense of their social media profiles. Then, you may want to run an unnanounced test live stream, just to get a sense of who’s showing up. Then, schedule a series of announced live streams on the platform(s) of your choice. Once livestreams are part of your routine, consider partnering with artist friends on YouTube where you can cross-promote each other’s work. From there, consider monetizing your work on Patreon with exclusive content. All the while, to engage new fans, hop on music-discovery tools TikTok and Twitch.
Now that you have the resources to build a fully functional music online platform from the safety and comfort of your home, the rest is up to you. Good luck!