Protect Yourself! Basics To Know As An Artist BEFORE Marketing


Hey folks! I recently took the NYU x TISCH Music Industry Essentials program, and I also have been working in the music industry as an independent artist for around 8 years now. My experience includes both working as a studio musician, selling beats to rappers, selling components to other artists, as well as releasing my own music.

Here as some basic things you as an artist should know and be adhering to BEFORE you attempt to market yourself or make ANY money from your music. I will update this list so please drop your comments below.

  1. Register with a PRO.
    A PRO is an agency that ensures songwriters and publishers are paid for the use of their music by collecting royalties on behalf of the rights owner.
    The biggest names in PROs in the United States are ASCAP BMI, and SESAC. (I personally am an ASCAP member)
    In my personal experience, I have had business dealings go bad and people attempt to steal beats/songs from me. Since I am registered with a PRO all I had to do was file something within their website, and not only did i get my fair share that I was promised, I actually now get the ENTIRE profit of those songs (not just the 20% I was promised but didnt receive)

    Do not delete project files, packs, vocal attempts, NOTHING. IT ALL COMES IN HANDY EVENTUALLY.
    Not only does this preserve your projects but it legally protects you from theft, and legal action in certain instances. Also, if you do studio sessions, have people pay you in any capacity to come over and use your equipment or expertise, you should be recording the ENTIRE SESSION, again, for legal protection as well as to preserve thoughts, ideas, etc that may get forgotten or may have not gotten recorded into the DAW, etc.

  3. Building Community & Performing Live: The 2 MOST IMPORTANT Things You Can Do!
    Years upon years of internet marketing and community building has never amounted to as much as a single night at an open mic for artists, or a performance. I have built more connections, fans, and meaningful interactions through in person events than anything online EVER. If you have chronically online fans who only interact with you through the internet, convincing them to come out to you is one of the most important things you can do to secure a fan for life. From a business aspect it only takes 100 true fans to make around 80K dollars a year. (Streaming, merchandising, live performances, etc)

These are my top 3 tips for artists to protect themselves, protect their art, and get started in marketing/community building.
I will update this list below with additional comments and suggestions!


Thanks for starting this! Very informative.

My comments:

  1. 100% agree. I am registered with ASCAP BMI myself as well. I think people don’t realize how important that is. Imagine having your music stolen and money comes out of it for the thief… This is the only way to protect your creation.

  2. Absolutely. Paranoia is your friend. I still have emails dating back from the late 90’s. You never know.

  3. Agree with the fact that in-person will always be more beneficial. Basically, if somebody likes you, they will try to help you. Now, about this:

I think that’s on the optimistic side of things - $800/person a year…?? That seems like an awful LOT these days. I’d like to know how you came up with that number…?

And I would add to your list:

  1. NEVER sell/give away your publishing rights.
    The 1st person who ever told me this was Alvin Gibbs (UK Subs bassist, toured the world with Iggy Pop in 1988). He also told me that, when Guns N’ Roses covered “Down on the farm” (UK Subs songs he wrote), the royalty checks for that one song allowed him to live for 3 years after the release. This is because the song was on “The Spaghetti Incident”, which sold millions of records and still sells copies to this day… so he still gets checks.


@raidenbeats @morphic did you sign up as a writer or publisher?

I really would like to finish some material this year and put it out there on Bandcamp or something similar, but navigating all of that seems like a bear going into it as essentially a hobbyist.


I signed up as writer/performer it was like the 100$ package


In my case, it was through CDBaby distribution. I have 100% rights as a writer and publisher. Not that I’m making any money but at least that’s peace of mind.


using a distribution service such as CDBaby doesnt actually guarantee you all the writing and publishing payouts. You still have to get a PRO account and put those songs into your account to claim 100% of the profits.


I did not specify but yes, I have a pro account and went through all necessary steps to make sure I have all payouts.


The idea of 100 True Fans has been a business model for a while (some people call it 1000 True Fans) Since the Passion Economy has taken off, you really only need a few true fans. The 100 true fans = 80k a year concept isnt based on each fan spending 800 a year, its based on the effect each true fan has on the friend group around them, as well as their own spending.
For instance a super fan may only spend 100 - 200 a year on you, but their views on your livestreams, music, videos, as well as their friends joining them for live events and shows, etc all have an impact.
The 100 True Fans model is especially valid these days with the tons of monetization streams you have available.

Here are some articles on it:


Damn, not only have I never had a super fan but I’ve also never been a super fan.

I’ve heard the ‘1000 super-fan’ rule in the past and honestly, even having one super fan would be fucking nuts for some of us. My most super-duper-fan probably spends like $10 every few months on new stuff, and even that guy gets some mad props in my book for really sticking it out over the long haul and actually liking the stuff I make.

The only saving grace sometimes is having 1000 so-so fans. That’s really the best I can do, lol


Yea, there is a similar concept in small/hand-made retail, that most of your business will be the result of a small group of super loyal customers that just LOVE what you sell and the way you do things.