So you want to make it in the music business?
Posted On November 7, 2023
Think you can make it in the music industry? Be forewarned: There are more people than ever making music, and it’s tougher than ever to make a living at it.
But that hasn’t stopped Kate Teague from making music. Teague, our guest in a recent episode of “What’s Working with Cam Marston,” is a singer-songwriter who lives and works in Nashville. But she doesn’t just sing and write songs. She also works as the associate director of development at Nashville Public Radio.
“It’s incredibly hard to make a living solely as an artist,” she said. “I’ve come to terms with the fact that I’m going to continue making music whether I’m making money at it or not. I think making art in your life is so important for everyone. It’s something that feels very innate to me.”
At one time, the musician’s dream was to be discovered by a record label, get signed, make gold albums and get rich. But most music is consumed through streaming platforms these days and artists typically only make only a fraction of a cent per download on those platforms.
Record labels, meanwhile, are increasingly more interested in acquiring music that’s already made than signing new artists and paying them to create it, Teague said. After all, anyone can upload their music on the internet now – and many musicians are.
In her experience, Teague said the best way to make money in music these days is through publishing deals or sync licensing – “having your songs used in commercials or used in television or another artist buying the rights to your song to record it and release it themselves.”
You can also make money through playing live shows, of course, but that money will vary depending on how big a cut the venue takes.
Being a musician sounds like a bleak proposition these days, but that’s not going to stop Teague. She also, however, isn’t planning on trying support herself solely as an artist.
“If you have a passion for art-making, then you should make art, period,” she said. “If you’re only making art to make money, things get really sour really quick.”
You can hear Teague’s music at kateteague.bandcamp.com.