What it takes to live off Music (2019)

When I first started pushing my music I was about 19 and my son was just born. I remember thinking, “All I need to make is $3000 a month”. Living in California has never been cheap but I knew if I made that we would be alright.

This is the same year Youtube hit the internet and Kanye West dropped “Gold Digger”. The first iPhone wasn’t even released yet. Most of the revenue streams today weren’t available. Its interesting to see how much has changed in the world of music. 

Its no secret that streaming services have changed the industry forever. Independent artists not only have the ability to release music at their own leisure but can now financially benefit. Also what’s interesting is the evolution of streaming service on the everyday listener. In 2019, more people are listening to music then ever before.

“According to Nielsen, the music industry experienced significant overall growth in 2018, with total album equivalent audio consumption up 23% over 2017, driven by a 49% increase in on-demand audio song streams compared to last year.” – Nielsen

Every year the consumption of music increases; but how does this affect artists? While physical album have been on the decline , streaming revenue hasn’t always worked out for artists. Fortunately we are learning in 2019 these streaming services are slowly increasing the payout for artists compared to previous years.

Not all streaming services are equal though!  While Youtube has a massive audience, its payout is the lowest among all services. Napster and Tidal are leading the way when it comes to artists payouts but they do have a smaller listener pool.

I wanted to break down what it takes to make $3000 in one month as an independent artists. The chart below is based on the amount of streams needed to make 50% of the revenue. If you were to work with a producer or any other collaborator they would make the other 50% of revenue. These numbers can vary.

In order to make $3k (50% of revenue ) or $6000 in a month with Apple music you need 816,326.53  streams and 1,405,152.22 with Spotify. Lets break down how many streams you need daily.

Apple Music Daily Streams needed to make $3000 in 30 days

1 song  =  27,210.88 daily

4 songs =  6802.72 daily

30 songs = 907.03  daily

Spotify Daily Streams needed to make $3000 in 30 days

1 song a month =  46,838.40daily

4 songs a month =  11,709.60 daily

30 songs a month =  1561.28 daily


Artists would need all 30 songs earning their daily revenue in order to make $3000 in one month. While it may seem like a lot, its feasible. The Key is releasing music constantly and growing your listeners over time. It might take 6 months or 3 years but its based on the artists.


“Anything you want in life, you just need to set your attention. ” – JAY Z

Russ is a great example of this method. It took him 2 years to build the catalog that would eventually provide him the leverage to secure a lucrative deal. He was one of the only newer artists who made the Forbes list in 2018. Hate him or Love him, he set a path that any artists can follow.

It takes work to have a grass-root fanbase and labels understand the value. Whether you want to sign to a label one day or remain independent, you need leverage. Owning an extensive catalog is a digital asset and there’s nothing better then building a fanbase from the ground up.

A common issue among artists is the ability to create and release songs constantly. It can get expensive when most instrumentals on the market cost around $50 -$200 per beat. Unfortunately, some artists never earn a penny from these records.

This is one of the reason why I decided to start the Elite membership. I wanted to provide a affordable place for artists to download beats and a discord to share the music. I’m also working on a platform to promote music for artists but we will talk more about this in the discord.

I want more artists to create and live off of their music. It is possible because I am a living example. If you have any questions, hit the messenger icon in the right corner or join the discord to chat with me personally.

How Frank Ocean Finessed Def Jam Out of $20,000,000

For those that didn’t know Frank Ocean was a songwriter in the Music Industry before he was known as Frank ocean. At the time he was Lonny and wrote songs for some of the biggest artists like Beyonce and Justin Bieber. While he enjoyed writing for other artists he decided it was time to create music for himself. He then made his transition into the public eye by joining Tyler the Creator’s Odd Future which lead to a record deal with Def Jam.

Unfortunately things weren’t the best with Def Jam, they didn’t quite believe in Oceans at the time. This lead Ocean to release a mixtape called ” Nostalgia, Ultra”without the support of the label. It was a huge success so the label finally decided to get behind him and released  Novacane as a single.

Frank Ocean then went on to work with Jay Z and Kanye West on  Watch The Throne. There was a little commotion about the song “thinking about you” after it was leaked on the internet. The song was originally meant for Roc nation’s Artist, Bridget Kelly, which did appear on her EP Every Girl.

Lets be honest , Frank Ocean’s was better and  brought anticipation for the album titled Channel Orange. Channel Orange was a huge success and  Ocean gained $2 million for the next album from Def Jam.

This is when things start to get a little weird. The following album was titled Boys Dont Cry but was never released. Its believed that Apple may have footed the two million dollar bill to buy back the rights for Frank Ocean. Ocean still needed to provide an album to Def Jam to fulfill his contractual agreement which brought Endless.

Sponsored by Apple Music, Endless was announced via a 140 min live stream. During the stream, it appeared to be Frank Ocean building a staircase with the instrumentals of Endless playing in a loop. The Album eventually released and his contract was fulfilled with Def Jam. He was now independent and thats when the finesse was revealed.

The very next day after Endless was released, Frank Ocean dropped Blonde exclusively via Apple Music. Blonde was #1 in 7 countries and sold 232,000 units (275,000 with album-equivalent units) in the first week. He went from owning 17% to 70% of his Royalties and Publishing. Ocean also secured a bag from Apple music for the exclusivity(rumored to be worth $20million). Chess moves.

If you are an independent artist like Frank Ocean, check out our beats below!

What Happens When You Sign a Music Contract

How the Music Industry Works

Most artists dream of being signed to a major record label. They think all their financial problems are gone and they can just focus on the music. The problem is that the industry is setup to always benefit the label over the artists.

According to Citigroup, musicians only made  12% of the $43 billion made in the music industry in 2017. Most of the revenue was generated  from touring which explains why  most new artists are entered into 360 deals. These young artists end up signing away their publishing for an advance check and don’t full comprehend what’s in the contract.

The New Age

Fortunately in 2019, more artists are educating themselves and opting to remain independent. Russ is an example of an artists who built his brand independently and leveraged it for a lucrative record deal. He is the only new artists who was featured on Forbes 2018 Hip Hop Cash Kings list.

Signed artists are now renegotiating their contracts or leaving major labels.  Chris Brown  just signed a new record deal which makes him the youngest artist to own his masters.The internet has provided all the information and tools creatives need, there’s no need to sign to a label. Artists should focus on developing their brand and reaching their audience.

The D.I Y artist is the future !

You no longer need a label to distribute your music when you have companies like Distrokid . You don’t need a label to push your music  when you have Instagram, Facebook ,and YouTube. Everything that you need is right there in your phone.

If you’re an artists that feels like you need help or would like to further the conversation, please feel free to text me at (484)-494-2372. Drop a comment below and let me know what you think about signing to a label verses staying independent.

What is a 360 deal in the Music Industry?

What is a 36 deal in the Music Industry?

Whats a 360 deal?

A 360 deal is a contractual agreement that allows a record label to collect a percentage of all streams of revenue generated by the signed artist/s. The label will take a percentage of not only the record sales but digital sales, touring, merchandise, publishing, endorsement deals, and your right leg. Ok maybe I took it a little too far.

At the end of the day, labels are not generating as much income due to the decline of physical sales(CD & etc). In order to survive in the streaming world, labels will insist on taking a piece of all earning, hints the 360 degree reference.

Labels justify taking these percentages by stating they provided financial support into launch the artist’s into stardom. Because of their investment, these artists can create incomes from touring, merchandise, fan clubs ,and even endorsements. Whether its a major or a independent label, these deals are not going anywhere. The problem with 360 deals is that artists are affected in the long term. Unless they have massive clout and leverage, they wont own the masters to their music. Once out of their deal, without the copyright to the music, they will not be able to redistribute the music.

Labels will offer a large advance but will recoup from royalties earned. My advice would be to stay clear of a 360 deal unless your in it for the short term If artists want to own their music and remain free the best option is to stay independent or until they have gained enough leverage.

Epikbeats has been working with independent artist for more then 11 years and we will continue to provide the best quality beats and instrumentals online. It is our mission to offering information to help artists understand the music industry and how to build independently.