The reality of the music world is that music sales cannot be relied on solely to boost the income of artists – this is the same case in the Kenyan music scene. Sadly, this is a fact that most musicians are yet to grasp hence they spend their musical careers stagnated in the same spot they were in when they first dived into the industry. While the revenue generated from music sales has decreased over the years, other avenues have emerged through which you can make money in Kenya based on your musical talent.
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Try digital sales
With the dwindling number of listeners buying hard copies of songs, you can make use of the online platform to make your music available to the millions of people who use the Internet. If you dare dream big, websites, such as Bandcamp or iTunes provide a suitable platform to distribute your songs to people who will pay a certain amount before downloading the album. You could also set up a website where people can visit, sample and buy your music.
Source for sponsorships
With an established fan base, you can reach out to various companies who can sponsor you in the form of cash, free products or sponsoring your recording sessions or videos. Companies that are likely to consider sponsoring you are ones that deal in products or services that target your fan base. Aligning with you provides them with the chance to reach these target customers – who happen to constitute your fan base. For you, this is an opportunity to rake in some extra cash thanks to your musical prowess and established fan base.
When going for a live performance, such as a concert or talk show, be sure to carry along some of your physical merchandise that you can sell to those in attendance. These could range from t-shirts, caps, sunglasses to stickers, which are creatively emblazoned with images of you, your products or popular catchphrases. Those who purchase these products will not only boost you financially but provide some sort of free advertising by wearing your merchandise.
Licensing for films and commercial shows
The in-thing in the Kenyan music industry is to try and get your song featured as a soundtrack in adverts, films or TV shows. This entitles you to a licensing fee for the use of your song in the film production; the amount would usually depend on the budget for the film and how desperately the production team wants your song.
Uploading your songs on YouTube provides a great chance to get some extra cash; a case in point is when your song features in video ads. A portion of the money made from the advertisements is often given to the rights holders of the music used. You can gain access to this money through CD Baby and TuneCore, which are digital distributors who help you collect your money made on YouTube.
Ringback tunes, such as Safaricom’s Skiza Tunes and Airtel’s Hello Tunes service have become the next money-making frontier for music artists in Kenya. All you need to do is to sign up with various content providers in the market who will then connect your music to the various telecommunications giants in the market. The more popular your songs are the better because there are high chances that your fans will want to entertain their callers with these tunes. Before you know it, you will be raking hundreds of thousands in from ringback tones.
These days, live performances for artists do not only mean performing at concerts but also at corporate events including product launches or promotions. This form of diversification has been informed by the dwindling opportunities in securing concerts in the mainstream industry. Other events such as wedding receptions or fashion shows also stand out as moneymaking avenues for artists in Kenya.
In the past, one of the biggest headaches facing musicians in Kenya was they could not get their deserved dues even if their songs got a lot of radio-play. All that has changed with emergence of copyright agencies, such as the Music Copyright Society of Kenya (MCSK), which ensures that you receive the money due to you from the many times your music plays on different for a including TV, radio as well as entertainment joints. At a fee, they will monitor to ensure that you are not underpriced and collect your full dues on your behalf, which you can always collect as per your agreement with these copyright agencies.
Offer music lessons
With your music talent, why not make some extra money by nurturing the next crop of great musicians in your genre. We have seen this with the likes of Hellen Mtawali, Achieng’ Abura and Robert Kamanzi who were music teachers tutoring upcoming musicians in EABL’s famed music project, ‘Tusker Project Fame’. You could choose to start your own music school and teach upcoming artists on various aspects of music including playing a music instrument, song writing or vocal projection. Alternatively, you can take up a side hustle as an art-based lecturer with a focus on music in the various colleges around Nairobi and other parts of Kenya, which offer music courses.
In a nutshell, success in the music industry of today demands that you become a diverse musician who does not only specialise in one thing but many. So long as you manage to market your songs in the right places, you stand a great chance of diversifying your talent for good use. It may seem a challenge networking with the right people to open moneymaking avenues for your musical career but you will eventually come good the more you keep at it.