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Making A Living In The Music Industry with Venus Theory

Venus Theory makes a living as a sound designer / music producer and YouTube creator with over 200k subscribers. Companies hire him to make presets, samples, and sample libraries for their products, or to compose music or create sound effects for their visual media. In this episode of Modern Music Marketing he shares how he did it and how you can too.

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Important Points:

Venus Theory highlights that from his multiple income sources, including occasional gigs, YouTube, and royalties from sound design, his biggest so far is the percentage from the sales of music he makes from companies. 

Cameron discusses the challenges of manual affiliate program management, tax payments, and international transaction tracking. Both he and Andrew agreed that hiring an accountant is more cost-efficient overall.

Andrew and Cameron discuss pricing for services. For sample pack works, Cameron is often approached by companies with set budgets and deliverables. Cameron recommended negotiating royalties with bigger companies and working within set budgets for sample pack projects.

Cameron tells Andrew that the tipping point for Cameron’s success started when he reached 20,000 subscribers on YouTube. The secret to his content is his shift to broader and introductory topics and retaining his audience’s attention until the end of the video.

Andrew and Cameron discuss that the music industry isn’t a quick path to riches. Cameron’s success comes from diversifying his time and exploring related music careers. 

Podcast Outline:

[00:22] Cameron shares what he does as a musician, sound designer, and YouTuber – Cameron

[02:15] At the beginning of his career, Cameron didn’t pay much attention to being credited for his work. Most of the music he composed for factory libraries was credited to the company – Cameron

[03:36] Cameron’s income comes from occasional gigs, YouTube, and royalties from sound design work, but a large percentage of it comes from the sales of the music he makes for companies – Cameron 

[05:10] Sponsorship and affiliate marketing is another income driver for Cameron too. However, there are challenges with the manual filing of reported sales – Cameron

[05:49] Andrew talks about the possible challenges that Cameron faced in tracking tax payments from his affiliate marketing payments – Andrew

[06:09] Cameron shared that hiring an accountant made the tax work lighter, especially for the work he does with international companies – Cameron 

[07:52] Andrew and Cameron agree that working with an accountant allows them to save more because of their intimate knowledge of tax laws – Andrew and Cameron

[09:10] Usually, when companies come to Cameron for sample packs, they already have a set budget and deliverables in mind – Cameron

[11:17] Cameron shared that even with set budgets, he sometimes negotiates with established companies for royalties – Cameron 

[13:02] Starting out, Cameron reaches out to cold leads, which eventually translates to opportunities- Cameron

[14:18] After sharing his work on YouTube, Cameron gained popularity. More companies approached him for the value and quality of his music – Cameron

[15:03] Because of the notable work he’s doing, influencer marketers noticed Cameron – Cameron

[17:20] Starting out, Cameron shared that instead of focusing on content worth watching, he focused on things that he really wanted to talk about – Cameron

[18:42] Cameron found inspiration from Virtual Riot and Mr. Bill during the videos he made in his first year on YouTube – Cameron

[20:36] The biggest turning point of Cameron’s content is when he learned that YouTube is all about introducing an idea. So, he focused on broader topics instead of nerdy music content.

[22:09] Cameron discussed how focusing on retention helped him double his audience – Cameron

[24:49] Andrew confirmed how many of the people he interviewed are also shifting to broader-type of content on YouTube – Cameron

[27:16] Cameron finds it interesting to understand what drives and inspires people to create content – Cameron

[28:32] Andrew pointed out how many think making it in the music industry is easy, which is far from reality – Andrew

[29:06] Cameron highlighted that he attributes his success to diversifying where he spends his time in- Cameron

[33:00] Andrew and Cameron discussed how people think the music industry is just about making music and do not consider sound engineering, production, and other jobs – Andrew and Cameron

[34:50] Cameron shared how to pitch your music to stock libraries or TikTok stars can help bring in revenue streams – Cameron

[36:01] Andrew and Cameron agree that it’s hard for newcomers in the industry to find paid work. Without previous experience, the only way to score a job is to do it for free – Andrew and Cameron

[38:31] Andrew pointed out that musicians treat their music like their children and find it heartbreaking to be rejected – Andrew

[39:20] Cameron highlighted that submitting to playlists requires picking the best fit for your music – Cameron

[41:11] Subscription service libraries helped Cameron in monetizing his sample packs- Cameron

[43:00] Cameron encouraged artists to put a portfolio of the music they do and pitch it to licensing companies and music libraries- Cameron

[45:12] The core of Cameron’s success comes from the production quality of his work – Cameron 

[48:26] Cameron shares how he’s now created a blog version of his channel where he puts in affiliate marketing and ads – Cameron

[51:57] Andrew and Cameron discussed how other content creators use the numbers and stats of their platform to exploit other people – Andrew and Cameron

Wise Words:  

[15:22] I think that was certainly the big tipping point for me. Once I hit that, I don’t know, 20,000 subscribers or something like that, that was when it really, really started to pick up. And then, you know, by the time I was pushing 50, 70,000 subscribers, I mean, that was just, every week was just meetings, booking gigs, let’s do it.- Cameron

[16:08] I don’t know how many videos you’ve had, but to grow to nearly 200,000 subscribers in a four-year period is pretty fast. I usually tell people when they get into the whole YouTube game for the first time to expect that if they publish a video every week for a year, they should consider hitting a thousand subscribers that first year a win.- Cameron

[24:49] I talk to some of the people who are like the biggest in this kind of space that I’m in, and they talk about how they’re trying to pivot some of their content to more like entertainment or more broadly appealing topics, so that they can kind of surpass like the cap of, of this kind of nerdy niche thing they’re doing.- Andrew

[28:32] A lot of people don’t realize that the music industry is probably the hardest place in the world to make a quick buck. It’s the opposite of a get-rich-quick book – Andrew

[29:06] You know, you have to have not all your eggs in one basket. I think that’s what makes me survive in this industry; if I was just a YouTuber, absolutely not. If I was just a sound designer, not really. If I was just a freelance scoring, you know, media composer person, probably not. But by doing all these things together, I can afford to live and actually pursue this whole thing.- Cameron

[36:14] It was like 9,000 rejections, and then you get like five or ten gigs just to get your foot in the door. And once you do that, that’s when things start to open up.- Cameron

[38:31] A lot of artists really struggle with the rejection because, when people get into using sites like SubmitHub and Playlist Push, or Groover, I’m sure you’ve heard of all those, you’re going to get 90% rejections essentially. And it’s hard as an artist because your songs are essentially your children, and you love them all.- Andrew

[54:07] I mean, there’s a big difference between making content that’s genuinely helpful and then making content that is just helpful enough to make you buy something. Right. I obviously sell courses. I sell consulting. I have things to bring in money. But, when people ask me, do you hold anything back from your videos so that it’s just in your course? And generally, the answer is no.- Andrew

Resources Mentioned:

  • Venus Theory’s YouTube – link
  • Learn how to grow your YouTube DIY- link

Learn More:

If you enjoyed this interview, check out this one I did with Ruslan KD on how he’s made a living in the music industry organically, without any Facebook ads or playlist marketing.