Los Angeles–based rapper Latashá, 33, had a long journey to reach her recent financial success.
The New York City native juggled jobs for years to cover her expenses. In addition to performing three shows per week, she picked up temp jobs doing admin work, she wrote music for makeup company Maybelline's commercials, and she wrote music for TV and movies through Sync Songwriter.
Then in early 2021, the artist began posting some of her music videos as NFTs — one-of-a-kind, digital assets like videos and graphics sold using blockchain technology — and buyers came flocking. Her first music video NFT sold for $1,000, her second for $12,000, her third for $30,000, and her fourth for $20,000. NFTs are bought and sold in cryptocurrency, usually ether. These figures are based on the value of ether at the time of each sale.
NFT sales, in conjunction with other smart moves, allowed Latashá to scale back on her odd jobs and focus on her most fulfilling and lucrative income streams.
When it comes to earning, she believes confidence in your path and your potential is key: "Money could tell when you're scared," she says. "So do your best to not be scared and really believe that you deserve. And the money will come to you."
Here are a few more pieces of money advice for artists from Latashá.
"A lot of artists tell me they won't do something because they don't have the income," she says, "And I'm like, 'OK, create with what you got.'"
Consider the work you want to make, then think of everything you'll need to make it. There may be items, materials, or spaces someone in your network has and will lend to you for free or for cheap. There may be free versions of tools you need online, such as video editing software.
And most social media is free to join and post on, to promote your finished product.
Latashá says making lists has been important in her financial journey. "I always suggest to artists, 'Write down all the ways you're making your money, and then write down all the ways you want to make your money,'" she says.
Grammy-nominated electro-funk duo Chromeo kept a similar inventory of their moneymaking activities. "Certain artists don't have to tour but they make a ton of money off of streaming," one half of the band, Dave Macklovitch, recently told Grow. "Certain artists don't make money off touring but they make a ton of money off merch."
When you start paying attention to where your money is coming from, you can focus on those most profitable activities. Writing that list can also help remind you of the day-to-day activities you need to do to eventually add new income streams.
As Latashá built her career, she continuously found new ways to earn. "I was like, 'Alright, I'm doing performances, I'm doing residencies,'" she says. Her wish list of opportunities included writing for commercials, TV, and movies.
And when she wrote down those goals and made moves in those directions, "they started to happen for me."
As you start building your various income streams (whether, at first, they're coming entirely from your artwork or not), "try to save," says Latashá.
Even "when I was broke, I was saving at least $25 a week," she says. Whatever you can, "just save something, because it will continue to grow."
That habit helped Latashá pivot when the pandemic hit and many of her sources of income dried up. Her small contributions had by then added up to $20,000, which kept her afloat until other moneymaking opportunities presented themselves.
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