Home » 19 October 2019 » How do artists make money?

How do artists make money?




Singers and music artistes these days are no longer dependent upon film production companies for their survival. Gone are the days when singers were paid only according to the number of the music album copies sold in the stores. Today, artistes have found a zillion ways to promote themselves and their music.

Getting started, according to industry sources, top Hindi singers like Sonu Nigam charge INR 10 lakh per song. On the face of it, this number looks good but since there is a growing number of equally talented singers, the per-song fee is coming down as the competition keeps going up.

The most obvious method to sell your stuff is via YouTube and other online music and video platforms. You set up your own channel, upload your music and then promote your channel via your social media platforms. Promotion of your channel can be done free of cost or through a subscription model, so your marketing spends are totally under your control.

Let’s have a look at the official channel of Sonu Nigam, one of the most popular singers of Hindi cinema.  At the time of writing this article, this channel had 313,000 subscribers and had several videos. One of the most popular videos on his channel is Nevaan, the Science Kid, that has so far garnered more than 1 million views.

While spending exorbitant amounts on video promotions may not be an option for regular vloggers, but our artistes don’ hesitate. Recently, Singer and rapper Badshah garnered 130 million views on the very first day his song, Paagal Hai, released on Youtube. Regardless to say, it was heavily promoted.


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So how do singers make money from these videos?

It’s very simple, actually. When a visitor clicks on one of their videos, they are first greeted by an ad. So if there are 1 million views on the Nevaan video, at least a thousand ad impressions are generated. Based on this number, Sonu gets his ad revenues that are actually a function of the Cost per Milli metric of YouTube. Estimates reveal that the average CPM in music in India ranges between $1 and $3, so from Nevaan, Sonu might be earning  1/1000x 100,0000 = $3,000 per month.

Please note that since Sonu Nigam has other videos as well in his YT channel, his cumulative earnings would be higher. Also note, that out of the $3,000 that he makes in a month, YouTube would be taking its commission.

But artistes also make money from their concerts in India and abroad. Their admirers and friends organize music concerts and those tickets are sold over websites like BookMyShow and www.premiertickets.com.

Since Nigam has a huge fan base on YouTube, every time there is a concert abroad, they get to watch it on his channel. This way, he gets two different kinds of audiences- his virtual fans on YouTube (who pay him via ads), and his fans who actually buy tickets to watch his performance. Of course, the show organizers pocket some commission for themselves.

You’d be interested to know that Billy Joel, who hasn’t released any single album of his for many years, raked in $36 million from his tours alone between 2016 and 2017.  And he has also earned money by lending his name to merchandise ( clothes, bags, t-shirts, etc.). While this form of marketing is restricted to rock stars like Joel, India artistes like Sonu Nigam have a long way to go to achieve this status.

Many Indian artists also earn via royalties. Every time your song is played on radio, television, etc, you are paid a certain sum by your producer. However, this amount is very, very small as what you get paid depends upon the discretion of the movie producer.

To sum up, singers and other music artistes in India have to work very hard to get a decent and steady income. Live concerts and tours, social media channels, and royalties are some of the ways by which these artistes earn money.

Akanksha Holani

Author: Akanksha Holani

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