How To Legally Make Money From Your DJ Mixtapes & Livestreams

Last updated 15 May, 2020

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Want to know a way you can not only get your mixes out there legally, but maybe even make a bit of money from them too? It’s possible using Mixcloud Select, the Patreon-like DJ fan scheme from Mixcloud.

Mixcloud is a legal DJ mix sharing service and livestreaming platform, and Mixcloud Select makes possible for DJs to charge their best fans a monthly amount in return for benefits.

While it is highly unlikely that you will get rich from this, the most successful DJs and companies using Mixcloud Select are making decent five-figure sums annually from it, so it is possible. Take a look at some of the DJs succeeding on Mixcloud Select here: You’ll see that while some are well-known DJs, many aren’t.

john digweed mixcloud
John Digweed’s Mixcloud Select page. He is one of the most successful Mixcloud creators, with hundreds of thousands of followers, many of whom are paid subscribers.

How to do it

Every DJ who uses Mixcloud has their own page (here’s mine), and you can get one with limited features for free. But once you’ve signed up for Mixcloud Pro at £9/£15 a month (at the time of writing, there’s a free three-month trial), you unlock the creator features necessary for using Select. So this is your first step.

This also gives you the ability to livestream on the platform, see audience analytics, and have more control over how you share your mixes, so is probably worth having anyway if you’re serious about building a legal catalogue of DJ mixes online, regardless of whether you intend to monetise them or not.

Once you’re a Pro user, you can activate Mixcloud Select on your account. You add artwork, some text describing you and what you are offering, and also choose what benefits you fans will get when they subscribe.

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Importantly, you also get to choose what they pay each month – the lowest amount is $2.99, and you get to keep just under 60c of that after all the artists, labels, publishers and Mixcloud itself have been paid. (Yes, this is legal and licensed – that means if you play someone’s music, they get paid for it…)

One of the big benefits for subscribers is being able to download your shows to listen to for free in the Mixcloud app. But you can also offer exclusive shows only for subscribers, you’ll soon be able to offer livestreams just for subscribers too, you can “window” your mixes so subscribers get them first (this is the most successful monetisation tool, according to Mixcloud), you can offer discount codes for merch – it’s really up to you.

Mixcloud DJs
Some of the DJs and companies who are smashing it in Mixcloud. There are a mixture of “household names” and relative unknowns making this work for them.

When you go through the process of activating your Mixcloud Select page, though, you’ll see that Mixcloud has some preset ideas that you can turn on or off, and which will then appear when somebody browses your page deciding whether to subscribe or not.

Once you’re written your “pitch” and put your Select page live, your “home” page on Mixcloud will change to include a message encouraging people to subscribe to you.

This message is currently fixed, and at the time of writing is a bit of a plea to support artists in the times of COVID-19. (One thing I’d like to see Mixcloud offering is the ability to edit that message to something that you may find more applicable to you.)

Promoting your Mixcloud Select

Of course, setting up something like this is one thing, but making any money from it is quite another. By my calculations you’re going to need a couple of dozen fans just to break even on your monthly Pro membership.

But one truth about making money doing what you love is that if it was easy, everyone would be doing it. So how can you go about giving yourself a chance of success?

Here are a few tips:

  • Be realistic – This is not likely to work online if you haven’t got a fanbase of people prepared to pay for you offline. If you regularly DJ to a few hundred people and they come to see you, you stand a chance of success, but if you’re just starting out, this won’t be your route to international fame, unfortunately
  • Be consistent – You have got to turn up. If you don’t do the work, people won’t pay you for it. Consistency is the number one thing here. One of the shows I have always enjoyed on Mixcloud, Chris Coco‘s Melodica, has been running for over a decade, week in, week out
  • Look professional – Make sure your show artwork is high quality, and that the written parts of your shows and profile are spelled correctly and do the job they have to well. If you struggle with visuals or writing (for me, I always need help with artwork), get that help! And of course, take the time to make sure the work you share is the best quality it can be
  • Talk about Mixcloud Select on the platform – Obviously you’ll want to mention that people can subscribe in your show notes. But also, Mixcloud is a social platform as well as a mix sharing place, with direct messaging, comments and so on. While as with all such platforms there is a fine line between spam and chatting about what you do, potentials fans WILL be on the platform, so if you can find them and be helpful, while also mentioning that they can subscribe to you in Select, you should
  • Mention Mixcloud Select in your mixes – Mixcloud is a radio platform as well as a mixtape platform, and if you listen to the most successful Select DJs, they also speak at least a little on their mixes. Listen to how John Digweed does it as an example. Mentioning Select and the benefits at the start and end of your show is a good idea
  • Talk about Mixcloud Select away from the platform – On your Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, on your flyers, on the websites of the clubs you play at, on your business cards… everywhere you can mention that fans can subscribe to get closer to you and your music, do it! Mixcloud can feel a bit like an “echo chamber”, populated largely by DJs wanting other DJs to support them, so it’s important to bring your “people” in from the outside
  • Hook up with a business partner who has an audience – Got no real profile yourself? Then why not partner up? For instance, are you the resident DJ at a club? Can you spearhead a Mixcloud Select account for that club, with you and other DJs creating the material, and then get fans of the club to subscribe?

Finally…

Mixcloud Phil Morse
What a Mixcloud Profile looks like with Select activated – this is mine. Notice the “support for $2.99 a month” button

For most DJs reading this, this is not going to be an easy route to good money, or indeed any money. But it is currently the ONLY way to monetise your DJ mixes legally, and if you’re working hard to build your DJ profile anyway, it seems a no-brainer to get a presence on here, too.

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At the very least, you’ll learn about consistency, about keeping a fanbase happy (however small)… and who knows? If and when your career blows up, you’ll have an enviable collection of back catalogue DJ mixes for all your new fans to subscribe to, all ready and waiting…

Have you tried Mixcloud Select? Do you use it to host your mixes? Do you have questions? Feel free to use the comments to share and reach out.

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