Top 4 Monetization Opportunities for Independent Artists

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The Internet has created a prime source of monetization for artists without having to deal with losing revenue to their music labels. Before the advent of the world wide web, nearly half of a musician’s revenue went directly to the record label. While working with major companies like Sony, Universal, and Warner Brothers can have huge advantages, the cost can pose a huge problem. Artists have taken it upon themselves to go to the internet to get their music to their fans, and below is a list of some of the most widely known platforms.

Number One: Vevo. Vevo receives an estimated 9 million visits per month, and brings in a stable ad revenue with CPM (cost per thousand views) rates of $25-$35, and of that, mainstream artists receive 5%. The percentage sounds low but is actually a fair amount considering that Vevo also pays the labels hire rates because they own the songs. The streaming site only promotes mainstream artists on its front page, so independents, this option is probably not for you; however, the content is user generated, which customizes the experience for each individual visitor. Vevo is currently an available streaming option for 14 countries, and though originally it aimed for a worldwide rollout, those plans have been delayed.

Number Two: MTV. MTV gets an estimated 40.7 million monthly visits, and its ad revenue has fluctuated between $10-$15, averaging out at rates around $13.10 CPM. At the moment, MTV is still working on a payment system for artists they stream for since the site is still in its beta stages. Though the final version is still in progress, it looks like MTV will cater to independent as well as mainstream artists, which will make it more accessible to the public. Unlike some of the other options, however, the site is not currently user generated; instead, visitors browse music among different categories to find what they are looking for, so music searches are limited to tracks that users already know. However, it is set to be available to 32 countries worldwide, so the range of viewership is much higher than some of the other streaming options available.

Number Three: MySpace. MySpace, which began as a social network, now features an on-demand music services as part of its re-launch and receives an estimated 16.3 million hits per month. The CPM rates vary for MySpace, but seem to come in between $4-13, and average out around $7.75; of that, independent artists can expect to see around 40% with the other 60% going to independent labels or MySpace itself. As of right now, both mainstream and independent artists are streaming, but the discovery system promotes mainstream artists more so than independents where applicable. Content is user-generated through a personalized radio service, but MySpace music does require users to sign up for a free account in order to use the service. As of now, MySpace music is unfortunately only available to 8 countries.

Number Four: YouTube. YouTube is probably the most widely known, and receives a monthly estimated 16.15 billion views. As far as monetization goes, YouTube brings in a stable ad revenue at an average of $7.60 CPM, however the majority of ads do not count towards CPM totals, and on top of that, YouTube takes a reported 45% of all user CPM before paying video creators, so artists only receive 55% of views for whatever ads count toward their CPM. Recently, YouTube signed a contract with Merlin, an organization representing 20,000 independent labels worldwide, enabling independent artists to become competitively available alongside mainstream artists. The content on YouTube is user generated even if viewers do not sing up for an account; the site records information about videos streamed, and suggests similar options for viewing. As for availability, YouTube videos can be streamed in 74 countries worldwide, though many videos are only available for streaming in certain countries because of formatting issues.

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