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DON'T Sell Your MUSIC

Dec 16, 2023

Sell your knowledge instead....

Someone asked me recently how they could make money from their sounds.

A valid question.

My advice? Don't.

It seems that most artists today are still concerned about increasing their streaming numbers, or selling more merch/sample packs, or figuring out some way to tour without actively losing money.

The solutions offered?

  1. Write for playlists.
  2. Get something trending on TikTok.
  3. Get signed to a label to handle the touring costs and promotion.
  4. Or, of course, work an un-related 9-5 to allow for things like food and shelter.

For me, each of these potential solutions present more serious side effects than our initial problems.

  1. Writing for playlists would put me into a creative box I don't want to be in.
  2. I would rather DIE than create 5-10 Tik Toks per day.
  3. Signing with a label means not only being indebted to that label, but also that they would be taking part of my masters and publishing forever (oh and most of them are fairly ineffective at delivering on their promotional promises).
  4. A traditional 9-5 might be the best option, but would require the majority of my energy to be taken up by...not music.

So, now what? I can certainly understand the sense of hopelessness for many artists, and I was right there with you for several years.

But in the last year or so, I've stumbled on a solution I didn't even know I was looking for. A way that allows me to "have my cake and eat it too," so to speak.

Allow me to present my newly discovered alternative....

 

"I teach so I don't have to write sh*t"

 

These were the words spoken to me by my composition teacher about 12 years ago. At the time it seemed like an insult (I was his student, after all). But now I'm starting to understand what he really meant.

I've never really wanted to teach in the traditional sense. I've spent enough time teaching piano to know that it's not my ultimate goal.

I've always seen myself as an artist, a creative, a doer. While I've always respected teachers, it just never felt like my path - at least not in the academic world I came from.

So I've made my living in church music as an organist and choirmaster while secretly working on my side project - the alter-ego who I really wanted to be - Jameson Nathan Jones, the composer and recording artist.

For about 5-6 years I was solely focused on making my own music and trying to get it out into the world.

There were some really good moments and big playlist placements. I was approached to work on some independent film scores which had been a goal of mine. I collaborated with other artists who have become great friends.

But in-between all of those highpoints, there was a LOT of frustration. I hit a low point not long before I started making YouTube videos regularly two years ago. While I was proud of the music I had made, I felt like I had put all this time and energy into something that I still had no control over. Turned out, Spotify monthly listeners were not actual fans, and could go away just as quickly as they had come.

So I could either get more serious or less serious about my dream, and I decided to start making one YouTube video per week about the only thing I could think of at the time - synthesizers. It felt like that was something I could control - not the outcome, but the input and effort on my end.

Guess what? Turns out, this was teaching.

 

How teaching has set my music free

 

When I pivoted a bit to making videos about composition and arrangement, things really started to come into focus.

See, I had already been making the kind of music I love for years. I had been subconsciously taking all the core concepts that I learned from my classical training and combining them with my love for sound design for years.

Well, what if I just.....talked about how I make the stuff I'm already going to be making anyway?

This would allow:

  1. The focus to remain on my music - the music I really want to make, not the music Spotify wants me to make.

  2. The burden of becoming a "product" to be removed from my music directly - allowing even more creative freedom.

  3. Exposure to a larger audience than ever before - because only a few people are looking for Jameson Nathan Jones. But lots of people are looking for creative ways to solve their own problems.

  4. My music to reach new ears - since it's still the FOUNDATION of everything I teach.

  5. More financial stability - because people value solving their own problems much more highly than they value music as a product.

  6. Autonomy over my own schedule and life - because I have no financial pressure to take on projects I don't truly want to do.

All 6 of these points have proven to be true for me.

The last 6 months have simultaneously been the most artistically and financially rewarding of my entire career and life.

Yes, it's ok to earn a living from the work you do - as long as you provide legitimate value teaching the things you actually do and believe in.

 

"But I just want to make music..."

 

I also uttered this phrase for years. I get it.

What I've just laid out will take more skills than most of us have at the beginning, and that will take time to develop.

There is no scheme for quick and easy money here if you're building something on a solid foundation of knowledge and experience.

But if given the option between groveling for enough streams to make minimum wage OR writing/teaching about my own process - the choice is simple to me.

If given the option between working a 9-5 that isn't remotely related to my music OR learning to communicate my own ideas and principles to others - it's a no brainer to me.

It took me a long time to figure all of this out, and no doubt - it's not for everyone. But if some light bulbs of new possibilities went off for you and you'd like to learn more about HOW I implement all of this, just let me know HERE.

If there's enough interest in having me pull back the curtain on the business side of things, I'll develop this further into a detailed resource for you.

Whenever you're ready, here's how I can help you:

1. Composition Concepts for Artists - an in-depth look at the process of composition with step-by-step examples SHOWING how and WHY I make decisions. You'll learn to take an initial idea and DEVELOP it into a finished project.

2. Understanding Synthesis - learn to design your own sounds starting with the basics of subtractive synthesis and progressing to more advanced sound design  with semi-modular and various forms of digital synthesis.

3. YouTube Membership - monthly livestreams featuring music making and sound design in real time. Q&As and exclusive videos only available to channel members.

4. One to One Coaching (coming soon) - work with me on YOUR own music. I'll help you take your track from idea to finished product, so you'll come out with a polished track or EP and any knowledge gained from walking through the process with me.