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17 Indie Artists on Their Oddest Odd Jobs That Pay the Bills When Music Doesn’t

Discussion in 'Article Discussion' started by Melody Bot, Apr 9, 2019.

  1. Melody Bot

    Your friendly little forum bot. Staff Member

    This article has been imported from for discussion. All of the forum rules still apply.

    Larry Fitzmaurice, writing at Vulture:

    What follows are 17 testimonials from working indie and indie-adjacent musicians about what they do when they’re not making music, how they perceive their financial future in the industry, and how much money they make — or, much more often, lose — in the process.

    summertimejesus likes this.
  2. popdisaster00

    I'm usually deluded Moderator

    Cool, I always like to see how musicians and artists make income on the side when they're not touring. Seems really difficult to manage both together, especially when touring alone doesn't keep the bills paid.
  3. lava890

    Newbie Supporter

    I wonder at what level of success (record sales, tour size,etc) that they don’t take on side jobs anymore. Do the more established artists in our scene have them too?

    I figured it’s what most of them do when they’re not on tour, but it seems tough to find a job for a few months at a time between tours.
  4. priceofsilver


    I'm no expert on the scene but it would largely depend on the situation. A solo artist that owns their own masters (i.e, no record deal) has a much, much better chance of subsiting solely from their music than a band of four or five members who are sharing their royalties with a label. You are basically banking on a label (literally, pun intended because they are essentially banks) to put you in a situation where you're growing to the degree that your touring/merch is outpacing your overhead.

    This might not have been true ten years ago, but artists now have a decent shot at making money from digital if they own their masters. All the more reason to go DIY.
    coleslawed likes this.
  5. TerrancePryor Prestigious

    To be honest, the only act I've heard of on this list is American Football. That's a different scenario since they've had those jobs 12+ years before reuniting. The rest of them probably struggle a bit more when it comes to making income from music. Plenty of established musicians have normal jobs to keep themselves occupied.
  6. Anna Acosta

    Listen to Staircase Spirits. Moderator

    Yup. Found it very relatable that they also called the band the side hustle per this interview.
    Mr. Serotonin likes this.
  7. KyleAtGalaxy


    Awesome article. I know it’s constantly preached, but support the bands that you love, if you can.
    Mr. Serotonin and CarpetElf like this.
  8. JRGComedy

    Trusted Supporter

    If only love could pay the bills
  9. Steeeve Perry


    I feel like Cass McCombs is a relatively big name in indie circles, I was surprised that he couldn't make ends meet just from his music -- has plenty of releases and seems to always be well received critically.
    What surprised me most about the article was that bands make no money (or lose money) from going on tour. I always figured that back in the day record sales made artists money and touring supplemented that income, and that these days it was the opposite. If people make no money touring then they basically make no money from any aspect of their music career...
  10. TerrancePryor Prestigious

    If you're packing 2,000+ cap venues, you're probably making a little something. Again, I've never heard of any of these acts outside of American Football. They're probably headlining 200 cap venues tops. You really can't make money off that.
  11. Mr. Serotonin

    I'm still staring down the sun Prestigious

    That IS surprising. Says he has 1.2 million spotify listeners. Seems like he'd be packing venues.
  12. Steeeve Perry


    Yeah I've never toured so I'd have no clue about the logistics. Are American Football really limited to 200-cap venues? I thought they'd be bigger now, LP3 is my favourite album of the year so far. So they are like a legacy act and a hot new artist to me haha
  13. Steeeve Perry


    The real shame is having 1.2 million listeners but being unable to make any money from streaming.
    Mr. Serotonin likes this.
  14. TerrancePryor Prestigious

    American Football are doing 1,000+ cap venues on tour. The other bands on this list are probably doing 200 cap spots.
    Steeeve Perry likes this.
  15. priceofsilver


    You can make money off 1.2 million listeners if you own your masters. The rate is about $0.004/stream right now, so that's ~$4k a month. Combined with the other streaming sites, physical etc., it's absolutely possible to be surviving off of that.

    I've seen newer artists now who've had the luck of getting on some bigger Spotify playlists, even though their 'real' (i.e ability to draw on tour) numbers are small. It's a weird situation where smaller unsigned artists are actually making more money than signed, established bands. But of course, you're at the mercy of Spotify in that situation whilst established bands have real fans to lean on.
    Steeeve Perry likes this.