- Michael Burton started rapping for fun as a teenager and fell in love with the artform.
- In 2015, he decided to try to sell his rap skills on Fiverr, offering to write 20-30 seconds of music for $5.
- He's now made more than $400,000 on the site, writing love songs, birthday songs, and songs for other artists.
Michael Burton, 37, has been rapping since he was 15. "I was actually cut from the basketball team in 10th grade," says the native Texan, "and I had just a semester to do nothing. So me and my cousin were like, you want to try to rap?"
Burton found time to rap while juggling school work and shifts at Domino's and McDonald's, and eventually, after he graduated from the University of Houston, around his day job at various call centers. "That's still what I'm doing in my breaks, on my free time, on the weekend," he says. "It's never stopped."
Burton never found the same fulfillment in other jobs that he got from music, so after discovering that people offer rapping packages on online services site Fiverr, he decided to give it a go on the side himself. He was unprepared for the asks that might come in.
"The first request I got was, 'Can you make a rap to my mom about why it's okay to listen to Eminem?'" he says. Burton didn't know where to start and ended up cancelling his account. But in summer 2016, he decided to try again. By mid 2017, he was bringing in about $3,000 per month.
Now, he's working full time on the site and says he brings in between $7,000 and $9,000 per month, or about $80,000 to $85,000 per year. In total, he has made more than $400,000 selling to people who want rhymes inspired by artists such as Biz Markie or Juice WRLD. His success tracks with the growth of popularity in music on Fiverr: Searches for composing a song grew 5,000% between early 2021 and early 2022, according to a rep from the site.
Burton was so used to following his own creative whims as a rapper that when he first started on Fiverr, he didn't know how to write for others. Over time, he learned to cover the subject matters the client is interested in, in the way they want.
"It's not about me showing off how good I am as a rapper," he says. "I'm here for them."
As such, he's written raps explaining autism. He's written raps for cheerleaders. He's written love raps from one man to another. He's written birthday raps.
Among his most popular niches is the Norwegian konfirmasjon, a coming-of-age ceremony which happens at age 15. "I've done so many," he says. "I'm like an honorary Norwegian."
He's done some high-profile work, too. He wrote two songs for Netflix show "Dogs in Berlin," "High on Life" and "Rise."
Burton's packages have evolved over time as well. Initially, he charged $5 per eight bars, "which is roughly 20 to 30 seconds," he says. His turnaround time frame was a couple of days for that kind of project, but he found it often took far less. As his customer base grew, he raised his prices.
His packages for businesses or other artists now go for $65 for eight bars to $200 for a minute, and his birthday raps for individuals now go for $50 for an eight-bar verse to $185 for eight bars with a chorus, music, and a video.
Burton believes there's tremendous opportunity for creatives on Fiverr. Before finding success on the site, he thought the only way to make a living as a rapper was through a record deal. The site is "literally like a backdoor for creators," he says.
When it comes to building a business on an online platform, he stresses the importance of consistency in delivery and an adherence to good customer service. And he reminds other artists: "Not everybody does what you do."
Your unique skillset can position you for success. "Whatever it is" you do, he says, "not everybody does it."
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