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Level 2: Money (Section 7)
Written by:
Emily Plazek
Level 2 - Money, opening up new opportunities through leveraging your fanbase (lovingly!)

Now that you’ve moved up to Level Two of the IMBM pyramid and have 1000 True Fans under your belt, you’ve unlocked new opportunities to make money. At this stage, you may be able to hand in your two-weeks’ notice at your non-music-related job and focus exclusively on your craft. You can be a full-time indie musician!

So, how do you bring in the dollars with your newfound power? The name of the game is "Lifestyle Branding."

Lifestyle Branding: It all comes back to your music

If you really loved waitressing, you don’t have to stop -- remember, you’re defining success yourself. However, if your goal is to start making bigger bucks in chunks so you’re not tallying up hourly wages, this is where you start to drop those non-music adjacencies.

At the end of the day you want people to follow you and your music, but at this point you’ve got mad skills, right? Your self-awareness gives you the gift of understanding your unique personality, be it goofy or goth, and that gives you the option of sharing that character and what you believe in. You’re now able to touch some higher-pay adjacencies through the activation of your newly achieved clout (social media following, reputation, resumé), a.k.a. Lifestyle Branding activities.

That's our girl Kellee Maize acting in a TV show through some very non-conscious-rapper activities as lifestyle branding adjacencies.

Plus, these activities will get your name and face (your brand) out there in new avenues, funneling people towards following you for your original purpose, music! Here are some Lifestyle Branding activities you can start to pick up now that you have a fan following:

  • Sponsorships

Are you loyal to a certain makeup company, and you know your fans ask you for makeup tips? Hit up that makeup company and see if they’ll sponsor you -- maybe you’ll post about them on your social media a few times a month and they pay you for it. Maybe you’ll represent them in a “celebrity endorsement” type of way at a makeup show. 

In another example: maybe you swear by Bose headphones in the studio, so you contact them for a similar deal.

Those are examples of natural sponsorships that align with your brand and following. It’s not like you were approached by a tire company and ended up forcing a dancing tire scene into one of your music videos to try to make a few bucks (actually, now we want to see someone try this-- if you do it please tell us).

Your fans have a keen sense of what’s naturally you versus what’s forced -- and they’ll reject any hint of you not being you (We mean, they’ll be there with you in moments of doubt and human relatability, but they won’t be attracted to you trying to impress them -- that backfires). However, your fans are totally okay with you making a living from your music financially; that’s not selling out-- that’s enabling you to give them more music while staying true to you!

  • Ad Placements on your website

Similar to Sponsorships, if there’s a product or company you believe in and you have a lot of traffic to your site, this is a powerful way to make a mutual deal. Again, nothing forced and spammy -- always go for what matches the things your fan-following "follows" you for!

  • Authoring books (or Guest-writing for magazines, news, and blogs)

If you write a book now, you’ve got an audience for it! That’s why a lot of Hollywood actors/actresses, comedians, and other public figures end up writing books -- fans are eager to gobble up all different forms of their favorite people!

  • Podcasts

Comedian Pete Holmes’s You Made It Weird podcast took the simple idea of sharing the amazing conversations he had with amazing people and turned it into a podcast once he had a significant fan-following from his comedy career. Now he has more fans, even just from the podcast itself! Like we mentioned earlier, you get fans from these activities that transfer back to what you’re originally known for, too -- it’s a win-win.

Maybe you're a dope writer -- why not use that?
  • Vlogging (Video-blogging)

Maybe you’re slick with a camera, and you watch other YouTubers do what you want to do. Well, time to do it! Combine this with some sponsors and other monetizations and your fans will have a new product of yours to follow and enjoy and get more into you!

  • Blogging

Similar to Vlogging, you can combine this with other lifestyle branding options to monetize it and engage your fanbase in a new way! Both vlogging and blogging are good ways to control what you’re writing and do it in real-time so people can follow you in little bits daily, increasing how naturally you’re incorporated into their lives (making them even more super superfans).

  • Comedy

Are you, like, really funny? And does your already found stage presence make your comedy even stronger? Why just do music, then? Who’s stopping you?

Here’s a recent mainstream example: Donald Glover went from comedy writing to acting, to standup comedy, to the Childish Gambino rapping/songwriting -- backwards from what you’d be doing in the IMBM.

Kellee at her trailer on set in Hollywood.
  • Acting/Voiceover work

Our conscious rapper, Kellee Maize, expanded into acting and voiceover work because she had connections through her newly-found birth father, and she loved acting. Her fans/supporters enjoyed being able to follow her this year as Popp the pop star on Decker:Unsealed, the live-action spy TV show from Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim-- and she gained new followers from it, too.

If your music persona was already a character you were playing, and you’re able to do more characters, why not leverage the strength of your fanbase to wiggle yourself into some new opportunities?

  • Modeling

Maybe not in the way you think up first, but if you already have a following, you could model so that the hosting companies knew they’d be unlocking your fanbase, too. Heck, there are probably some unconventional and VERY-you opportunities out there, and they want you!

...like this Hot Topic ad. Think about it-- that’s modeling.

Remember, this is a DIY music career, so feel free to do as many or as few of these suggestions as you want.

Publishing Additions

Before we leave, remember that your fanbase also activates some new opportunities in your Publishing endeavors, all helping increase your leverage to make more money more efficiently:

1) Verified profiles: You can make your profiles “verified”, as in, get that little blue check mark to prove you’re the real deal and other accounts would be phony (meaning, you’re a level of famous in your own niche if people would try to fake being you!).

2) Bigger sync licensing deals: Music supervisors at TV shows and movies would either already know of you or look up your following. Then they’d bet that your fans would follow you to the shows/movies you told them your music is featured in, therefore increasing viewership or fans of their project through the power of the transitive property.

3) Promo within Online Stores/Streaming Sites: Know those banners on iTunes? Or ads on satellite radio? Or those curated streaming playlists millions of people follow--the big guys? These are closer to your reach than ever before.

Your higher stats on social media are powerful tools that companies now measure to see whether you can bolster their efforts simply with your fanbase following you and ending up in their product, so go out there and use that tool to make bigger bucks-- you earned it!

And the grand finale....

(Or, go back and read more about Level 2 - Money, here!)

Level 2: Money (Section 7)
Level 2: Money (Section 7)
MIC is my baby.
Level 2 - Money, opening up new opportunities through leveraging your fanbase (lovingly!)

Now that you’ve moved up to Level Two of the IMBM pyramid and have 1000 True Fans under your belt, you’ve unlocked new opportunities to make money. At this stage, you may be able to hand in your two-weeks’ notice at your non-music-related job and focus exclusively on your craft. You can be a full-time indie musician!

So, how do you bring in the dollars with your newfound power? The name of the game is "Lifestyle Branding."

Lifestyle Branding: It all comes back to your music

If you really loved waitressing, you don’t have to stop -- remember, you’re defining success yourself. However, if your goal is to start making bigger bucks in chunks so you’re not tallying up hourly wages, this is where you start to drop those non-music adjacencies.

At the end of the day you want people to follow you and your music, but at this point you’ve got mad skills, right? Your self-awareness gives you the gift of understanding your unique personality, be it goofy or goth, and that gives you the option of sharing that character and what you believe in. You’re now able to touch some higher-pay adjacencies through the activation of your newly achieved clout (social media following, reputation, resumé), a.k.a. Lifestyle Branding activities.

That's our girl Kellee Maize acting in a TV show through some very non-conscious-rapper activities as lifestyle branding adjacencies.

Plus, these activities will get your name and face (your brand) out there in new avenues, funneling people towards following you for your original purpose, music! Here are some Lifestyle Branding activities you can start to pick up now that you have a fan following:

  • Sponsorships

Are you loyal to a certain makeup company, and you know your fans ask you for makeup tips? Hit up that makeup company and see if they’ll sponsor you -- maybe you’ll post about them on your social media a few times a month and they pay you for it. Maybe you’ll represent them in a “celebrity endorsement” type of way at a makeup show. 

In another example: maybe you swear by Bose headphones in the studio, so you contact them for a similar deal.

Those are examples of natural sponsorships that align with your brand and following. It’s not like you were approached by a tire company and ended up forcing a dancing tire scene into one of your music videos to try to make a few bucks (actually, now we want to see someone try this-- if you do it please tell us).

Your fans have a keen sense of what’s naturally you versus what’s forced -- and they’ll reject any hint of you not being you (We mean, they’ll be there with you in moments of doubt and human relatability, but they won’t be attracted to you trying to impress them -- that backfires). However, your fans are totally okay with you making a living from your music financially; that’s not selling out-- that’s enabling you to give them more music while staying true to you!

  • Ad Placements on your website

Similar to Sponsorships, if there’s a product or company you believe in and you have a lot of traffic to your site, this is a powerful way to make a mutual deal. Again, nothing forced and spammy -- always go for what matches the things your fan-following "follows" you for!

  • Authoring books (or Guest-writing for magazines, news, and blogs)

If you write a book now, you’ve got an audience for it! That’s why a lot of Hollywood actors/actresses, comedians, and other public figures end up writing books -- fans are eager to gobble up all different forms of their favorite people!

  • Podcasts

Comedian Pete Holmes’s You Made It Weird podcast took the simple idea of sharing the amazing conversations he had with amazing people and turned it into a podcast once he had a significant fan-following from his comedy career. Now he has more fans, even just from the podcast itself! Like we mentioned earlier, you get fans from these activities that transfer back to what you’re originally known for, too -- it’s a win-win.

Maybe you're a dope writer -- why not use that?
  • Vlogging (Video-blogging)

Maybe you’re slick with a camera, and you watch other YouTubers do what you want to do. Well, time to do it! Combine this with some sponsors and other monetizations and your fans will have a new product of yours to follow and enjoy and get more into you!

  • Blogging

Similar to Vlogging, you can combine this with other lifestyle branding options to monetize it and engage your fanbase in a new way! Both vlogging and blogging are good ways to control what you’re writing and do it in real-time so people can follow you in little bits daily, increasing how naturally you’re incorporated into their lives (making them even more super superfans).

  • Comedy

Are you, like, really funny? And does your already found stage presence make your comedy even stronger? Why just do music, then? Who’s stopping you?

Here’s a recent mainstream example: Donald Glover went from comedy writing to acting, to standup comedy, to the Childish Gambino rapping/songwriting -- backwards from what you’d be doing in the IMBM.

Kellee at her trailer on set in Hollywood.
  • Acting/Voiceover work

Our conscious rapper, Kellee Maize, expanded into acting and voiceover work because she had connections through her newly-found birth father, and she loved acting. Her fans/supporters enjoyed being able to follow her this year as Popp the pop star on Decker:Unsealed, the live-action spy TV show from Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim-- and she gained new followers from it, too.

If your music persona was already a character you were playing, and you’re able to do more characters, why not leverage the strength of your fanbase to wiggle yourself into some new opportunities?

  • Modeling

Maybe not in the way you think up first, but if you already have a following, you could model so that the hosting companies knew they’d be unlocking your fanbase, too. Heck, there are probably some unconventional and VERY-you opportunities out there, and they want you!

...like this Hot Topic ad. Think about it-- that’s modeling.

Remember, this is a DIY music career, so feel free to do as many or as few of these suggestions as you want.

Publishing Additions

Before we leave, remember that your fanbase also activates some new opportunities in your Publishing endeavors, all helping increase your leverage to make more money more efficiently:

1) Verified profiles: You can make your profiles “verified”, as in, get that little blue check mark to prove you’re the real deal and other accounts would be phony (meaning, you’re a level of famous in your own niche if people would try to fake being you!).

2) Bigger sync licensing deals: Music supervisors at TV shows and movies would either already know of you or look up your following. Then they’d bet that your fans would follow you to the shows/movies you told them your music is featured in, therefore increasing viewership or fans of their project through the power of the transitive property.

3) Promo within Online Stores/Streaming Sites: Know those banners on iTunes? Or ads on satellite radio? Or those curated streaming playlists millions of people follow--the big guys? These are closer to your reach than ever before.

Your higher stats on social media are powerful tools that companies now measure to see whether you can bolster their efforts simply with your fanbase following you and ending up in their product, so go out there and use that tool to make bigger bucks-- you earned it!

And the grand finale....

(Or, go back and read more about Level 2 - Money, here!)

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