“I always find it baffling when artists say that they have to tour all the time or they wouldn’t be making money, when I’m sitting here making my own music and videos and earning enough off both those things to live (in fact the money I earn from either of those would be alone sufficient to live), so I have to conclude that they’re doing it wrong. Either they have unnecessarily extravagant lifestyles or they’re just stuck in a shit deal. The music industry’s very strange. That’s why I’d like to change it :)” – Alex Day

Alex Day is a UK artist who cracked the Top 5 last December without any record company or management team. He’s sold over 100,000 singles on his own. His search activity is at a level that nearly rivals buzz band Alabama Shakes. In our recent conversations, we discussed SxSW and why he doesn’t need to perform live. The quote above came from that chat. His experience is certainly proving that you CAN make money with recorded music. You can do it by yourself. It’s not about just one path.

His new video, “Lady Godiva”, has gotten over 300,000 views in less than a week. The top YouTube result for Alabama Shakes got that much in 6 months. It’s not that one artist is better than another. It’s that you can make your success as long as you focus on what you’re good at.

And what did YOU do last week?

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  1. Francesca March 20, 2012 at 6:02 am # Reply

    I think the fact that he was a known person – at least in certain circles – before releasing this music must have had an impact. I certainly don’t think this is a business model that any band could follow.

    • JayFrank March 20, 2012 at 8:04 am # Reply

      Yes he is a known personality, but he also made music all along the way. His story is not overnight success, and it’s not traditional either. There’s a solid lesson there as well.

      • Jeremiah Jacobs March 21, 2012 at 5:36 am # Reply

        Jay, respectfully, that someone rode another’s coattails to success is very much “traditional.”

        Second, anytime an “indie” artist makes a claim about a major label contacting them, it can’t take you five minutes to get a name and check up on that claim.

        Who was this “guy at Universal?”

        Last, if someone makes a claim they’re making money in music, why don’t you/they publish a couple spreadsheets so we can see how it’s done?

        • JayFrank March 21, 2012 at 8:11 am # Reply

          Regarding his label meeting, there’s no reason to contact someone because they would deny the conversation. Who wouldn’t? I do know he’s had meetings because charting a record always elicits a phone call.

          Regarding releasing spreadsheets, I don’t see the need. One can easily see thru the publicly available. Chart positions and thru the YouTube views that revenue is there. The way it’s done as one can publicly see is put in years of hard work and, yes, partner with the right people. It’s not about traditional or new. It’s that he did it himself and it helps show one doesn’t always need either a label or touring.

          • Jeremiah Jacobs March 21, 2012 at 8:20 am #

            I strongly urge you to reconsider this entire response….

    • Alex March 21, 2012 at 4:57 am # Reply

      But I didn’t do anything unique to me alone. Anybody can sign up to a YouTube channel and spend a few years working hard to build an audience. If anything, their singular focus on music would ensure a loyal, dedicated fanbase would build bigger and quicker than how I did it (with less focus).

      • Jeremiah Jacobs March 21, 2012 at 8:16 am # Reply

        Alex writes: “Anybody can sign up to a YouTube channel and spend a few years working hard to build an audience.”

        The title of this blog entry is “You Can Make Money From Music”, not “Building an Audience On YouTube.” You’re correct – anyone can sign up on YouTube.

        You say you’re making enough money at this to live, and I/we are asking for something to buttress that claim.

        This indie meme that somehow you’ve achieved this all by your lonesome needs to be put to rest, too, IMHO: why don’t you openly discuss all the things you leveraged (other people’s followings) to make this happen?

  2. Mr Know It All March 20, 2012 at 11:31 am # Reply

    Alex’s music is terrible, he had success with his single for one reason and one reason only…He lives with Charlie McDonnell who has the most subscribers on YouTube in the entire UK (1.5million) He got Charlie to make the video for the song and release it on his channel, thereby getting 1.5 million viewers instantly. It was that simple.

    • JayFrank March 20, 2012 at 12:11 pm # Reply

      Quality is subjective. Also, getting people to watch and then getting people to buy are two completely different propositions. No doubt having an active YouTuber helped, but is that different than a new rapper adding Bruno Mars to sing the hook or a new singer adding Drake to do a rap verse?

    • Alex March 21, 2012 at 4:54 am # Reply

      Of course, that helped, but my music video went out on Charlie’s channel over a month before the song was actually released. In any case, my new song Lady Godiva is out on MY channel, not his, so we’ll see how that does in the charts and let that speak for itself :)

  3. big peachy March 20, 2012 at 1:05 pm # Reply

    quality IS subjective. have you heard the “quality” of his singing and playing?!?!! there’s a reason he’s not interested in doing gigs…he’d get laughed off the stage!

    • Anaïs L. March 20, 2012 at 1:28 pm # Reply

      Alex is a very talented personn, and you know, if you don’t like the way he sings/his songs/him, well you don’t actually have to listen to it. But I showed Forever Yours and Lady Godiva to some of my friends, and they really liked it! And he did some gigs, and I can assure you that hundred of person’d love to see him in stage. We just live too far away :'(

    • Alex March 21, 2012 at 4:54 am # Reply

      I have done gigs before. I’ve played to several thousand people across the US and the UK including at the Hammersmith Apollo. Pleased to report nobody’s laughed me off yet.

  4. Katherine March 20, 2012 at 2:08 pm # Reply

    Alex makes gorgeous music and I would definitely see him live if I had the chance.

  5. Tommy Mitchell March 20, 2012 at 2:41 pm # Reply

    you sound like you’re 12, probably one of Alex’s older fans! To quote Zach G (from the hangover) to Kesha: YOU MAKE MUSIC FOR 6 YEAR OLDS! very apt here. Currently listening to rock n roll by led zeppelin…now THERE’S talent worth listening to…still being played 40 years later…can’t see that happening with ANY of todays music, let alone some boy wonder on YT!

    • Sophie March 20, 2012 at 3:55 pm # Reply

      I’m not a 12 year old. I appreciate and enjoy listening to Led zeppelin, Pink floyd, Queen to name a few. I also really I enjoy listening to Alex Day sing and would happily buy his music. Edd Plant, Brian Reilly, drifless pony club and Mr.tinoforever also you tubers out there making really good music. And not all affliated with charlie. Just because you are listening to the same music for years doesn’t mean we all are.

  6. Jojo March 21, 2012 at 11:43 am # Reply

    I find it hard to believe what the comments have turned to: Is Alex Day a talented musician or an idiot? That’s not at all what the blog post is about! It’s about the fact that he makes enought money with his music to live without touring. While that wouldn’t be possible if not enough people thought his music enjoyable enough to buy, that’s not the point. The point is that he can do something he loves and doesn’t work for it in the same way others do. He has found a new way to do what he loves and he is successful with that. And I think that proves that he is a remarkable personality, regardless to the personal taste of anybody who commented previously. That’s the thing about taste: it’s different for everybody. And if I don’t like an artist, I don’t listent to/buy his work. But I also don’t criticise his way of being an artist.

    • JayFrank March 21, 2012 at 11:44 am # Reply

      Thank you! That’s a very thoughtful way to address the point I was making.

  7. NermieHimself! April 10, 2012 at 7:08 am # Reply

    Here’s how I did it!
    1. Build up a big following on YouTube by slagging off other peoples work that is popular…like the twilight books…Rap lyrics etc.
    2. Get my best mate Charlie to make my 1st video – 1.5 MILLION people will see this instantly
    3. Say the single is for Charity and even though i am never off youtube or twitter, never actually SHOW me handing over the charity money i helped make, of course I never kept it, just forgot to show me giving it to them!
    4. Repeat in April (minus charity bit as thats worked once and might arouse suspicions) as its my birthday and I am so spoilt I want my fans to give me the best present EVER, another chart position! That’ll show them major labels! I’m still unsigned even though I signed a contract with Universal to get my CDs in shops.
    5. During the campaign make comments like “my song is only 79p, everyone else’s is 99p! Those bloody major labels, who needs them ripping you all off…oh btw, can you please buy all my remixes, there are 10 of them”
    6. Get Tom from McFlys dopey sister to do a remix and therefore he will tweet about it to his fans. Get all other remixes done by people with minimum 50,000 twitter followers (except that one guy who has about 12 followers). DON’T get Tom Milsom to do a remix this time, he is FAR too talented and clever to be duped twice!
    7. Somehow get Stephen Fry to tweet about it too – he has 4.5 million followers.
    8. Make sure everyone sees how specially smug i am as i sign instore for all the 9 year old girls i’ve manipulated so easily – I am a rockstar…and its my birthday! What a great week I’m having.
    10. My dad is bankrupt and I am loaded but so what!
    11. Check out my latest video where I say I love one direction / justin bieber / next big thing and please click on a few ads while you’re there, it makes me around £1,000 each video…that’s why there are a few a week coz I’m greedy.
    12. New song release coming in July, I’ll probably write this one again as I begrudge giving away money to that dead guys family for Lady Godiva.

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