Welcome back to my little documentary (or moc-umentary as I prefer to call it). We are now on Part 3 in a 5 part series exploring the lives of five fictional artists who are all racing to a six-figure income with very different and skewed styles. Though the cast-of-characters in this moc-mentary are indeed fictional, the techniques are not. These are the same skills that independent artists like you use day in and day out to survive and thrive in the new music market.
Last time we were together I introduced you Fast Freddie who had a Fanatical Fan Club but really didn't take the time to develop any other skills. In spite of his inability to sell many CDs, and his pitiful booking schedule, Freddie still managed bring in a little over six-figures in income.
This time we are going to take a look at the next of our five artists on his quest to make $100,000 a year. Today you'll meet MacDaddi, who is a graphic designer and hardcore rapper from south Philly. You'll see how his constant craving for new merch helps him to arrive at his $100k.
So lets start the camera rolling...
[Scene Three, Act One] Camera opens on one MacDaddi, A Philly rap artist with street cred and mad design skills.
We find MacDaddi hard at work stirring up a decent following in the South Philly streets. His success is due in part to his connections on the street and his penchant for designing tons of new products for his crew to wear. Part of what his fans love about him is how he ties his philosophical truths into his rhymes. Mac, as his friends call him, basically has a philosophy on everything but specifically on art and science of merchandising.
In his own words his philosophy goes like this: "When my people are stirred by my mad beats and soulful rhymes I find that they want to take action of some kind. What I did is, find a way to channel that action into picking up my creations. This all works in a circular or 'symbiotic' system - the more products I have on the streets the greater the awareness about me there is. This greater awareness builds buzz, which in turn grows my crowds, which in turn sells more merch. Its as simple as that."
For all of his philosophical depth Mac has not yet discovered the inherent value of gigging. So unlike our first subject, Gidget, Mac doesn't really focus on getting himself booked into better gigs with more and more new faces. Instead he much prefers to spend his time behind his computer screen with a nice cup of Earl Grey tea and his recently upgraded graphic-design software.
As far as booking goes - Mac really performs only two to four "hit and run" gigs per week. He calls them "hit-and-run" because they are usually quick sets for parties and local clubs with no set up or sound checks. Mac just goes in, grabs the mic, does his thing, sells his merch and gets out so that he can get back to designing stuff. All told Mac's gigs even out to about 3 per week. He does some promotions but not much more than emails and mass text messages to notify his fans when he has a gig, consequently Mac Daddi only gets crowds averaging 100 people.
According to "Twiggy,"[Mac's pet name for his computer] he made $39,000 a year from his gigs alone.
To see how Mac's computer figured this out is truly a thing of beauty. Mac wrote a special program that has Twiggy ask him random questions in a conversational format, and then from his conversations he is able to determine the profitability of Mac's business ventures. If you could have seen what Twiggy did behind the scenes you would have seen that Twiggy took the total of Mac's crowd size, which is 100 people and multiplied it by his gigs per week, which are 3. The computer then multiplied that figure, which is 300, by the $2.50 per head that Mac gets as his average fee or split of the cover charges and drink sales. The calculations at this point are $750 per week directly from gigging. Next Twiggy took the $750 and multiplied it by the total number of weeks in a year, which is 52, and arrived at a yearly total of $39,000.
Ok, back to the story. Mac has one distinguishing business asset that makes up for his lack of fervor in the gigging department: he designs some of the most incredible merch you have ever seen. Actually his merchandise is so "dope" that on average 50% of his crowds will end up buying something from him.
Now, the break down of the sales works out to this:
Each week Mac sells on average 63 of his CD "Don't question MacDaddi"- which received great reviews in the underground zine, Bounce. The CDs cost him $2.50 each create and manufacture. This includes the cost of a studio equipped with the most expensive keyboards and samplers you could want, and one cheap microphone for vocals. This leaves Mac with a profit of $9.50 per CD. When multiplied by the number of sales he has per week (63) times the number of weeks in a year (52), Mac Daddi's grand total is $31,122 a year in sales from his newest CD.
Twiggy has been so kind to keep up a running total for us, which is currently: $70,122 from CD sales and gigging.
Mac - in his never ending design spree - just came out with his latest creation the "Represent" t-shirt, which he sells for $15.00 each. They cost him $6 a shirt for the blank shirt plus printing which leaves him a $9 per shirt profit. Twiggy calculates that he sells on average 8 of these shirts per gig. He multiplies the 8 sales by the $9 per shirt profit, and then by Mac's 156 gigs per year [3 gigs per week times 52 weeks a year], for a net profit of $11,232.
Twiggy's running total is now $81,354.
Since he is always coming out with something new, Mac also has some older shirt designs that he sells a few of here and there. Since they are not "new" designs Mac feels compelled to discount them to $12 each. The cost to print is the same as for the "Represent" shirt, so Mac's profit per shirt is lowered to $6. Twiggy has figured out that Mac sells on an average 4 of these older designs per gig - which in all truth are less than six months old but Mac is a merchandise maniac after all. When multiplied by his 156 gigs per, year these additional shirt sales bring him $3,744 per year.
Twiggy now computes the running total to be $85,098.
Just like the t-shirts, Mac has four older CD titles that he also discounts because the beats are not as fresh as his new material. His selling price is only $10 each. The good thing with these crusty old recordings (most of them less than a year old) is that the production costs are now paid off, so Mac's cost is now down to $1.50 per CD. That makes his profit a reasonable $8.50 per CD. Twiggy finds that Mac sells on average 10 units total between the four different titles. Twiggy knows that 10 units multiplied by Mac's 156 gigs per year, multiplied by the $8.50 per CD profit nets him $13,260 per year.
Twiggy's new Running Total: $98,358.
In a shocking revelation one late autumn evening, Mac came to realization that he is a very good-looking character. Consequently he decided to add autographed glossy photos to his lineup of merchandise. Now even though Mac knew how good he looked, he was still surprised at how well these things sold. Mac found that he was able to get on average 5 people a night who would pay him $2 each for a photo of him posing next to his rich uncle Jake's Lincoln Navigator. The photos cost Mac $.50 each to reproduce, and net him a buck fifty each. Twiggy did the math by multiplying 5 sales per gig times 156 gigs a year at $1.50 each. All told Mac realized a $1,170 yearly income from sale of his autographed 8x10 glossy.
Running Total $99,528.
The last Items on MacDaddi's merch table are buttons that were originally designed to go on hats and jackets but his crew likes to pin them on the seat belt pads of their rides. Mac is able to sell an average of 3 of these per gig. Half of the sales are from customers who smashed their last ones when they shut the doors on their seatbelts. But Mac doesn't mind the repeat business because he makes an average of $1.50 from each button he sells. [Note: he sells the buttons for $2 each and his cost is $.50, which is $1.50 profit per button]. Mac sells an average of 3 buttons per night which when multiplied by his 156 gigs per year brings his yearly profit from buttons to a whopping $702.
Twiggy adds that to the running total of $99,645 and arrives at a final yearly income of $100,230 for MacDaddi's Merchandising Mania.
There's the MacDaddi way to handle business. Not bad for a rapper with some design skills, or is it a designer with some rap skills?
[Editors Note: Mac was last seen behind his computer designing up his latest line of products - hats with the logo off center so that the logo is facing forward when they're worn sideways. Good luck Mac!]
Next time we'll take a look at Randy's path to $100k. Randy is a recording nut. He records 2 CDs a year, plus all his live performances, music videos and even behind the scenes documentaries. We'll see how Randy's recording ready attitude pushes his income to the six-figure mark.
Sean Farrington is a band coach and studio mix engineer from California. He has been a full time music industry professional for over 12 years. During this time he has worked with hundreds of bands and artists in various capacities from the studio to the stage.
He authored the book "Band:Profit" which is designed to help independent bands, solo artists, and performers take their passion for music and turn it into profit.
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