We asked a panel of seasoned radio programmers and industry professionals, “How much money does it take to start pushing a single?” After a few minutes of discussion about relationships and passion, we were presently surprised to get a very honest and straightforward answer from Sonja Norwood, music consultant and mother to R&B Super-stars Brandy and Ray-J.
Stating in very simple terms, she explained that artist should be ready to spend roughly $50,000 for phase one of their campaign. This means $50,000 should be set aside to cover your Publicists, Radio, Travel, Marketing, Promotion, etc for the first three months. That $50,000 does not include the production cost of the record (Beat, Features, Recording, Clearances, etc). That $50,000 covers the first 3 months and when that phase is complete you will need more money for phase two of your campaign.
When the words $50,000 left her lips, I could hear the hearts and dreams of independent artists across the room shattering in unison. The room stood still. Major labels and publicists have done such a masterful job selling people on these rags to riches stories that people neglect the years of hard work and small FORTUNES spent to make those successes possible. The truth is, most independents haven’t and will never spend $50,000 TOTAL on their music, let alone solely on promotion for a 3 month period. Instead, many jump from one “get-on-quick” scheme to the next, spending money on whatever sounds like the most popular option of the day. They scrounge together money for Worldstar, Livemixtapes, Radio Promo or Opening for Major Artists. They often spend the majority of their money on big ticket promotional gimmicks without ever having put together an underlying plan.
The purpose of this article is not to disparage any promotional service or dissuade artists from doing music. My intention is to simply open artists eyes to a very basic truth… YOU CAN NOT EXPECT $50,000 RESULTS WHEN YOU’RE NOT SPENDING $50,000! You have to understand how much it really costs to get the results you are looking for. Once you understand that, you can be realistic with your goals and spend your money much more effectively. Artists often come to us complaining about the money they've spent on publicists, shows and campaigns with other companies and how they didn’t get anything out of it. When we start asking questions, it's easy to see the problem was less with the service than with how they used it or what they expected to gain from it. Often the campaign failed because they could only afford PART of a plan. You can’t look at a $50,000 campaign, decide to do one piece of it and expect the same results. Spending your entire $5,000 budget on radio but having no money for supplemental promotional material, Public Relations, DJ Servicing or traveling to the markets to support your record will not get you shows. Worse, in six weeks your song will be snatched from rotation and you’ll be left with nothing but some BDS reports and stories about that song you had on the radio.
In summary, independents often focus on the results they want with no regard to what they will need to invest to yield those results. This is why an artist can talk at length about wanting to get on the radio, paid shows and touring but then look dumbfounded when asked what their budget is. If you have $50,000 set aside for PHASE ONE, you’re in good shape, but If you don’t, you need to start re-evaluating your goals. Undertand, it is possible to take the $5,000 you do have and help build your brand and position you for potential sponsors and investors. It is possible to take the $2,500 you do have and properly structure your business to secure a $50,000+ line of credit so you can finance your own project and keep 100% control and ownership. But these are all options you won’t think to explore as long as you keep operating in the dark about your budget.
Register for Makin’ It Magazine’s next MUSIC 101 Workshop on September 27th from 11AM - 4PM to learn how to get paid from your passion. Workshop is focused on teaching independent artists how to generate income in the industry. Learn how to put together a Budget, Set Goals, Find investors, Secure Sponsors, Finance your Promo on Credit and start Making Money off of your Music. Workshop is limited to the first 12 to register only. CLICK HERE TO RECEIVE MORE INFO or REGISTER!