Is it really so hard to make money being an EDM artist?
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  1. #1
    DJTT Admin Scammer scamo's Avatar
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    Feb 2011

    Default Is it really so hard to make money being an EDM artist?


    There are some interesting points made by a couple of users in another thread about how hard it is for the artists who create EDM to actually make even a living from it. I'd like to open up a discussion on what issues there are to getting EDM creations "paid for" and hopefully some experienced EDM artists could chime in and give their opinion. Of course, everyone is welcome to shout out, but I am looking for reasons why the return of hard work is so poor. Is it because of music piracy? Is it because the labels take too big a cut? Is it because societies don't do a good enough job protecting usage of the artists' works?

    So I guess my question is,

    Why can't you make good money being an EDM artist?

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  2. #2
    Tech Guru jakeintox's Avatar
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    Because everyone and their moms have tons of shitty productions up on soundcloud and the scene is saturated to the point that you need to throw cake or fly a spaceship to get noticed?

    On a more serious note, selling tracks is not how artists and songwriters make money. Putting out a track or an album isn't where the cash lies, it's with merchandise and ticket sales. Always has been, but has been made more so by digital single sales eating into album sales.

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  3. #3
    Tech Guru calgarc's Avatar
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    Apr 2011


    everyone is a DJ and likes to make as they call them "beats" 95% of myspace consists of bands... its very hard.... hell 6 months after my first single was released on beatport/itunes i made 4 dollars and change.

    lets just say if a major label artist signed to EMI for example sells an album for 10 bucks on itunes they get 9 cents... if an indie label artist like me for example sell an album on itunes, i get $4.5 thats before the labels expense of mastering and releasing the album., which means i have to sell a decent amount of copies before i even get paid.

    piracy actually helps artists more then it hurts them... hell if it wasn't for the internet i wouldn't even know what edm was and who artists many European legends are...

  4. #4
    Tech Guru JasonBay's Avatar
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    Mar 2012
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    Speaking of making a living strictly from music sales, then yes it is very difficult and most unlikely that you can. People have been conditioned since a young age to download and pirate everything they can these days it seems, and that obviously includes music as well.

    Releasing music and running a label now a days is nothing more than a business card. Nic Fanciulli has said this numerous times as well. The only realistic way to make a living at this is to release music, get recognized and then get booked (even if the artist doesn't want to play live they realize they have to, and vice versa as well).

  5. #5
    Tech Guru squidot's Avatar
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    Apr 2012
    Las Vegas


    i don't even think it's about "edm" or electronic music artists at all, really. i think it's hard to make money as any sort of musician or artist, period.

    people shouldn't really get their hopes up on making a lot of money or a long term living on creating what they enjoy. it's a very small percentage of folks that can have that kind of success in these fields.

    by all means, people should go for their dreams, but many end up bitter and hating on everything when they don't come into success as a musician. to them it's always someone else's fault: piracy, society, laptop djs, ipod djs, etc. these people never take a look at what they can do to improve their work or the process of getting it out there. it's easier mentally for them to place the blame on someone or something else. some of them are self indulgent grown children who think they deserve the whole world because they have a keyboard and ableton. with that said, there are many very talented people who never made a huge name or a lot of money from music, but they still kept on truckin' because it's a part of them. they love it and endure. to them it's more important to leave something notable behind then to have a bunch of money. to me, that's the right way to look at being a musician.

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  6. #6
    Tech Mentor Lilac's Avatar
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    Dec 2011


    +1 to all of the above.

    It's simply difficult to stand out from the crowd.

  7. #7
    Tech Guru synthet1c's Avatar
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    Nov 2011


    The argument is that beatport et al. would sell hundreds of thousands of tracks a week amounting to hundreds of thousands of dollars even inspite of illegal downloads, and yet the artists are receiving only a fraction of the income.

    I always see my favourite artists when they tour at about $40 - $60 a show and go to around 3 festivals a year at between $170 - $240 each. I can't see a point of buying music anymore as the ones that get the money don't need it as they are on the world festival circuit... But that also accounts for the jump in festival tracks and decline in deeper groovin tracks which are the real gems that last through time.
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  8. #8
    Tech Guru
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    May 2009
    Cincinnati, USA


    One can make a living. But what type of living? Unless you're Avicii, Deadmau5, Guetta, or (insert major touring producer) you won't make the big bucks.

    A friend of mine is in a band that is getting big around the jam band circuit. They are the most searched band on JamBase right now (FWIW). He is living comfortably but not to the point where he can retire comfortably when his flame burns out. I feel like if Skrillex (or any of those guys I mentioned) continues as this pace for 5 years he'll have made enough to live a comfortable life without ever having to work again.

  9. #9


    You make original tracks, original remixes and original mixes to showcase you. Those then give you access to DJ gigs where your income comes from. Note the word *original*, if that's missing you won't get many gigs, neither well-paying ones.
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  10. #10
    Tech Guru dope's Avatar
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    Jun 2011


    Quote Originally Posted by ToOntown View Post
    . I feel like if Skrillex (or any of those guys I mentioned) continues as this pace for 5 years he'll have made enough to live a comfortable life without ever having to work again.
    Let's take the Skrillex example. He's been touring since Scary monsters and nice sprites release in october 2010. That makes 2 years more or less.
    250/300 shows per year, ok so let's round it to 550 total.

    At the beginning of his fame, he charged way less than he does now. Promoters now have to pay "couple hundred thousand" (i'm quoting the guy himelf).

    Let's say that on average, he charged $80,000 per show since he got famous in 2010.
    80,000 per show, 550 times, that gives us a $44 million total give or take.

    Of course, it's an approximation that does not take into account charges (plane, hotels) but most of the time the promoter has to take care of this. And this does not take in consideration the sales of tracks.

    Anyway, even if i'm 10 million away from reality, it's sure that the "big" guys on the scene already have way enough money to quit tomorrow morning and end their lives on a beach drinking pina colada. But they keep on doing it. Greed ? Passion ? A mix of both imo.

    PS : We took skrillex as example, what about guys like Guetta or Tiesto that have been on the scene for a decade or so ?

    PS 2 : As a DJ, you'll never be rich or famous. Produce, be good, be lucky and it's still not guaranteed. But this is worth giving a shot.
    Last edited by dope; 09-06-2012 at 12:57 PM.

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