Rolling Stone posted an article yesterday describing how bands are making money in the "new economy" of music, where physical album sales are declining and new areas of revenue are becoming more and more necessary to stay afloat.
Of the mentioned areas (including licensing music for commercials, movies, television shows, video games and making money through touring), I found specific area targeting to be the most intriguing. The White Stripes (among other bands) have begun to commission local artists to create limited edition posters specific to the location at which the concert is being held. This creates a more personal collectable for the fan apposed to the mass produced poster that everyone and their mother owns of their favorite band. The artwork can also be used for other things including area specific singles, stickers, you name it, anything with artwork.
However, the article left a gaping hole in one of the largest (if not THE largest) revenue streams for a great number of bands. That is money from PROs (Professional Rights Organizations). These companies, for those unfamiliar, collect licensing fees from public areas (be it a bar, retail shop, sporting venue, etc) that uses music to in any way sell products. This can be through using music to create a better atmosphere or ambiance or using it directly in a television show or anything broadcasted, really. Band then get paid every time their song is played partially or fully on television, radio, or over a sound system (anywhere at any location...it's electronically monitored these days). Bands can make multiple millions of dollars (though not that common) this way depending on how much their music is played.
Now, by licensing out their music to television shows and commercial adds, they are not only promoting themselves through exposure, but also racking up air play time as tracked by PROs, which can ultimately add up to a large sum of money. It's a win win for any band who allows their songs to be played in these forms of media as they'll be getting a licensing fee AND PRO money.
This "new" way of making money isn't exactly new, but most bands haven't been doing much of it until lately, and I'm glad their finally catching on to what many people in and out of the industry (including myself) have been saying will happen for the last five years. The record company isn't dead, it's simply evolving from selling platinum albums to creative multiple streams of revenue for bands in an age where physical album sales look to becoming not enough.