A Peek Behind The Curtain
I’ve been processing a lot about you and me, and how this whole music thing works. If you have five minutes and are willing to read some ramblings, I’d love to share my heart with you. Here goes…
Part I - VIRAL SUCCESS!!!
On Friday and Saturday, my homemade live-performance video of my song “Still My Little Boy” (written from Mary’s perspective at the crucifixion) went a bit viral on Facebook. After the video was posted on Thursday afternoon, people began to share it, and the song made the exact emotional impact that I hoped it would!
Here are a few comments from listeners after they heard the song:
• Watched this twice and cried both times. So moving. We don't know exactly how Mary felt or what was going through her mind, but she was surely grieving deeply and at the same time knew that the boy she raised was also her Savior - amazing!
• Thank you for this. Oh my mamas heart! Talk about a mom who had such courage to raise a son knowing what his life was already for. ❤️
• 😥:'( Major tears! So beautiful, though. Thank you for sharing this beautiful song right before Easter!
• … currently sitting in the garage crying my eyes out 😭
In addition to the AMAZING comments, the post was shared over 6,000 times (what?!?), and by Sunday morning it reached the Facebook feeds of nearly 900,000 people!
As an artist who’s mission is to create honest songs of hope and peace, this was a fantastic and validating experience. To see the music I work so hard to create and share resonating so deeply with my audience is incredibly validating! I’m grateful to live in a moment in time where feedback from listeners is instantaneous. Especially if the feedback is positive ;)
Part II - THINGS GET COMPLICATED
Here’s the tricky part, musicians like me are trying to make music in an environment where fewer and fewer people (including me) buy music anymore.
Alright, y’all. Get ready, because I’m about to get really transparent for a minute. For those of you who take an interest in numbers, you’ll love this next part. If numbers make you suffer from narcolepsy, move ahead a few paragraphs.
The image below shows how many times “Still My Little Boy” was purchased on iTunes and AmazonMP3 over the past two weeks (the last column is the day my post reached 800,000 facebook feeds).
That’s download revenue though. What about streaming? Let’s take a look at the streaming numbers on Spotify for last month, shall we?
I love that thousands of people get to hear my music! The financial piece is a little more of a bummer. Spotify pays $0.0035 per stream, so multiplying 35,700 streams by the $0.0035 comes to $131. As of this writing, I’ve invested about $4,500 to create, distribute and promote “Still My Little Boy.” So this leaves another $4,300 yet to be earned from digital music services.
I show you these graphs because I don’t think most music listeners have a chance to see behind the curtain when it comes to how musicians like me get paid. My hope is that this song continues to remain relevant for many years to come, and I expect that one day it will eventually pay for its creation.
The structure of the music industry is changing. The way artists like me fund our careers is changing too, and that’s okay because change is a part life. As a listener, I love that I don’t have to pay $15 every time I want to hear a new album. However, as an artist, this arrangement makes things a bit more complicated.
Part III — SOME SOLUTIONS
I’ve never believed in expensive music, but I also don’t believe music should be valueless. I’ve found that sometimes when I pay a small cost for something, it helps me to value it just a little more.
Solution #1 - patreon.com/jjheller
I want to give a shout out to 250 very special fans who are taking action to help my monthly songs come to life. Since last April I’ve released a new song on the first Friday of each month, and each month my patrons carry a bit of the financial burden associated with each song.
At the moment, these 250 patrons contribute just over $1,000 (an average of $4.20 per patron), but my hope is to grow my patron base from 250 fans to 2,000 who each contribute only $1 to $2 per song release. With over 180,000 Facebook fans, 23,000 Instagram followers, and 50,000 people on my email list, I’m sure there are at least 1,750 people willing to give $1 or $2 a month. Perhaps you’re one of them. If so, I’d love it if you stopped by my Patreon page to learn how you can become a patron.
Solution #2 - My Spring Bundle
Today is the last day of my Spring Bundle Sale (3 CDs for $6).
I’d love it if the songs on these CDs were an encouragement to you, or if you chose to gift my music to friends or family members. Also, the $6 cost (the equivalent of streaming a song on Spotify 1,714 times!) will serve as a one-time contribution toward the creation of future songs.
Part III — THANK YOU!
I have one of the best jobs in the world! I honestly don’t know what else I’d do if I didn’t write and record songs. To read amazing stories from listeners like you inspires me to keep creating too! I write these things to invite you to join me in the process of music creation. I’m going to keep paying the amazing producers and musicians who help my recordings come to life, but it would make the journey more beautiful to know you were there to be a part of it too.
Thank you for reading this, and for listening to my music! I make it for you.