Successful one-hit wonders like The Knack are so rare because they broke out during an era when only a small handful of record labels were the all-powerful gatekeepers. Of course, some mega-artists of today like Adele and Drake still make huge money off music sales and downloads, but they are the exception.

While it’s true that today’s artists can’t expect to retire off of royalties alone, they have so many platforms for reaching music fans directly and bypassing the money-grabbing middle men (record labels, publishers, etc.).

“As an independent musician today, you have more opportunities to become a successful ‘one-hit wonder’ by getting your songs out there through today’s technology,” says Feehan.

Truly independent musicians function as their own record label and own their masters, which means they can collect all royalties including the sound recording.

But the key, write Feehan and Chertkow in their book, is 1) to register for all the copyrights and royalties that you’re due (there are 17 different steps to complete across multiple agencies), and 2) to parlay the short-lived fame of a viral hit song into long-term steady revenue from multiple different sources.

Touring is a big one. This is traditionally where musicians cash in. According to a former executive from MCA/Universal Music, a band with just one hit song can still rake in between $10,000 and $50,000 a show. And even better, the band itself keeps between 85 and 95 percent of that, sharing the rest with their manager.

One 2013 Northwestern University study on working musicians and income showed on average, performing made up 28 percent of their income and teaching another 22 percent. Money made from songwriting and recording made up just 12 percent of their income (we assume most or all of these musicians never scored a big hit). Around 70 percent of the respondents earned less than $50,000 a year.

In their book and on the Making Money with Music website, Chertkow and Feehan detail more than 300 additional revenue sources for independent musicians who want to turn their passion into a lucrative career. Today’s one-hit wonders may not be able to “collect checks for a living” like The Knack, but they can build a loyal fanbase and take control of their finances like never before.

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