Guitar | Bass | Keyboard | Microphones | Mixers | Audio Interfaces | Monitors | Sequencers | Soft Synths | Live Sound | Drums | Club | Accessories | Blowouts
How We Made Money on MP3.com
by Rich the TweakMeister
Note: this article is dated. It is no longer possible to make such great sums of money on MP3.com. Vivendi universal first lowered the payout from around 6 cents a play to 0.5 cents a play, and now they have gotten rid of payback for playback altogether. This article is now for historical reference only. The good thing is most of the scammers have left mp3. The bad thing you can't make any money there now. It remains a viable platform for displaying your work.
rich the tweak
Over the last year MP3.com has launched a highly successful program called Payback for Playback. The program actually pays MP3 artists royalties for the download. In the case of artists in the MP3 Top 40, this has resulted in earnings in the thousands each month. Some artists have been able to quit their day jobs an devote themselves to their music full time. Well, bully for them! Click the url above to get the full earnings of the top artists. Below you will see the report for July.
These are Monthly earnings for the artists listed
Pretty incredible, huh? So you see, making it on MP3 is not a small deal, but for these artists, a vital livelihood, earning them more royalties than they could reasonably expect to get through a traditional record label.
Myself being a relative "latecomer" to MP3.com, I have been trying to figure out how to raise my site up the charts to where TweakHeadz Lab might reap some benefits. I have found it incredibly hard. So I was excited when Geoff Johnston from Noisepie wrote me and agreed to do a web interview on how to boost one's rank at MP3. While Geoff's band hasn't quite made it into the elite group above, his site has done remarkably well, with a Top 40 hit and over 250,000 downloads. Whew! I can dream.
Rich: Geoff, Tell us about your band. What type of Music do you guys do?
Noisepie is an eclectic band -- hence the name Noisepie. What genre
are we? How about ska/funk/swing/punk... The band tagline goes like
this: "Noisepie -- Nerds gone horribly wrong, or, The Mostest Funnest Band in the
Rich: Nerd's gone wrong--ROFL. Wow, you guy's have a great hi energy sound!
Rich: How long have you been on MP3?
Geoff: We got our stuff into MP3 format and up at MP3.com pretty early. I think it was in March of 1999.
Rich: How do you attract people to your site on mp3?
Geoff: Well we do whatever we can think of. Sometimes we've paid for traffic to the site, we always try to use the press to generate traffic, and of course we're constantly trying to get our fans to both come to our MP3 site, buy our CDs, and to tell a friend. You gotta love viral marketing.
Rich: How did your success on mp3 happen? Overnight? Slowly? Tell us how it happened.
Geoff: I think our success has sort of come in waves at MP3.com. We've been as high as #25 on the entire site to as low as the depths of the beast. Those charts are sort of like riding a wave (we're in San Diego) -- if your in front of the wave you're having a great ride, if you under a wave you're getting pounded. If you are at the top of the charts they keep you there because everyone checks out the top bands. If you're at the middle or bottom you better figure out some way to get a traffic pop because not many people dig around listening to bands out of the top 40 of any given genre.
Rich: How do you account for your success in the medium? Your stats look great. There are 80,000 artists on MP3, and its easy to be a needle in a haystack, even with music of excellent quality. Is it just the music? Or is there something else an artist needs to know. Any tips, tricks or hints would be appreciated.
Geoff: Well I think there are several things we have done to be successful.
1. We had some good quality recordings. It doesn't matter much if you are a great live band on the Web -- unless you have solid recordings of you music it won't fly online. The average listener is not savvy enough to hear a well written song if the recording quality stinks. Why do you think all that crap you hear on the radio gets popular? Mostly because they spend a lot on the recording quality. So first things first, don't let a bad recording spoil you good songs.
2. Don't be stingy. Put ALL of your songs on the Web! You're not famous yet -- what do you have to lose? Maybe a couple of buck at most. It's better to have tens of thousands of fans hearing your music worldwide than to have boxes of unwanted CDs sitting in your garage because you thought you shouldn't give your music away. If you want to encourage more CD sales, maybe put up streaming-only songs, but put them all up for heaven's sake.
3. Eclectic. I think one thing we have going for us is that we have songs in tons of genres. When things are going well we may have songs in the top ten of 4-5 genres. Each one of those charts feeds a different audience to our MP3 page.
4. Think before you categorize. Put your song in the deepest category that it fits in. That way you can be on several charts at once. For example, our song Groovy Dude is in the Surf Punk charts which are a sub of Punk, which is a sub of Alternative. There have been times when we have been #1 in Surf punk, #3 in Punk, and #8 in Alternative all at the same time. More eyeballs to check out our music.
Rich: How does MP3 help the band. Do you get gigs from mp3 exposure?
Geoff: Well we've made more than $4000 from the downloads so far. Plus another small pile of money from DAM Cd sales. Plus we get contacted by all sorts of industry types through MP3.com (some legitimate some bogus). One company contacted us and used a couple of songs on a show called Fashion TV the ran on E! TV. That gave us exposure and cash -- two of our favorite things... :)
Rich: Tell us about your studio setup when recording mp3s. Did you go to a commercial studio?
We went to a professional studio for our songs. We've more than
Rich: Geoff: We usually did a full band take or two for the rhythm section and then did overdubs for vocals, horns, and solos. Like with our song (HI-FI Play from here), the group singing is the whole band singing together and overdubbed once or twice so we get 15 voices instead of just 5. It came out sounding really cool, I thought. If you get a good engineer and are well rehearsed before entering the studio you can create a really good product and not spend too much.
Rich: My thanks to Geoff for sharing his insights with us.
Geoff: Best of Luck to you all on MP3.com!