If you're a Mixcloud user, you may wonder how to turn your passion for creating content into something that earns you money. With a Pro subscription, you can invite your listeners to financially support you with Channel Subscriptions, so you can build an inner circle of fans who directly help sustain your creativity. Not only that, a portion of the money pledged by your subscribers goes to the copyright holders of the music you play, thanks to our licenses with all major music labels and publishers.

In this article, we speak to one of Mixcloud’s top earners in Channel Subscriptions. Mike Marrone is a New Jersey-based DJ, radio programmer and music enthusiast who has dedicated his life and career to music. A radio host since 1982, he was one of the first presenters on XM, a 17-year stretch that came to an end in 2017. After overcoming cancer, he joined Mixcloud to resume his radio show, playing everything from Progressive Rock and Jazz to Funk and Soul, with many of his channel subscribers paying more than his minimum asking price of $2.99. Scroll down for more on his journey.

You have quite a colorful journey with music, right? Tell us a bit about it.

Mike Marrone: I go way back with music, as long as I can remember. I love it so much. I’ve played in bands, worked in record shops, record companies and in radio. I was one of the first radio guys on XM and I was the Program Director of The Loft for every day of my 17 years at the company. Then XM merged with Sirius and things started to change. I adjusted the programming to reflect new voices that would be on the channel, but Sirius assumed control and that's when everything became more conservative. It became too overly programmed and playlisted for me and it was a struggle to adjust to not having freedom. I've never played anything on the radio or on any show that I didn't pick. I've never played a playlist handed to me, ever. 

So I had my last Sirius show on New Year’s Eve of 2017. A month or so later when I was getting ready to start another job, I got sick and I got stage four Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma. So I was really sick but luckily I beat it. I was trying to find a place to continue my radio shows for my audience, which was fairly substantial. A place that supported artists and paid rights holders. Mixcloud was that place and it's been wonderful from the very beginning, because a portion of my audience from XM were able to follow me over. 

What kind of content are you making on Mixcloud right now?

My shows are very diverse. I mean you could hear Duke Ellington, The Ramones, Sigur Ros, Led Zeppelin; you could hear all that in an hour. I’m always in search of a perfect segue. That’s why I implement snippets of TV shows and movies in my shows. I think they actually make the songs sound better. If I have received one gift to my DNA it has been that ability, to seamlessly weave a set, often by key and I really believe that is what listeners react to the most. I just want to have fun. I want to put people onto some good music and Mixcloud is the best place I've found to do it.

Why did you want to activate Channel Subscriptions on your channel?

The main thing that I wanted for my listeners was the ability for them to download my show and listen to it as much as they wanted, and go forward and backward and be able to use it whenever they want. The way they’ve wanted to use it. That was always going to be important to my listeners. The only way I could do it was through Channel Subscriptions and I’ve always charged the minimum to join. Some people have paid me more than that, and I wanted to give them an opportunity and an option to be able to support it that way, but get what they want. 

It's not so much about the money. It is for their accessibility. Now for my subscribers, whenever I share an episode, it’s the same as if I emailed them a show. Even if you’re not a Channel Subscriber, you’ll still have access to my channel and all the music I play. As long as it gets to you. I don't care which bathroom you go in, I just want you to wash your hands!

How have you used your revenue to reinvest in your channel?

Mainly to purchase more music, that's what I use it for. I go to Bandcamp or directly to an artist’s website. Coming from a radio background, I understand how important it is to support the artists, especially in this day and age. Nowadays I just want the music, I don't care about the physical part of it anymore. Generally I get things I'm missing from my collection even though it’s already enormous! At one time I had 50,000 vinyl albums and I still have about 50,000 compact discs. But I saved all my Beatles stuff and my Frank Zappa, Jimi Hendrix, Dave Mason. I need those!

Tell us a bit about your community on Mixcloud; how well do you know them? How do you speak to them?

I love them because they're the ones that helped me get through my illness and recovery. When I used to live in Maryland I had a guy that brought home baked cookies to me every time I had to go in for a five-day treatment in the hospital. I guess that's just what music does to people. When I moved back to New Jersey, one of my listeners happened to be local and I was getting rid of a bunch of homemade videos and he took them off my hands. So I've interacted with people in that way and I've always been a very open person. I've never been hard to get a hold of, I've always used my real name and I treat people all the same. I don't care what you do; if you listen to me and you have a question, I’m always available to talk to.

"If I can make somebody love one new song that they’ve never heard before, that's the payment I want."

How have you built on your community outside of Mixcloud? I noticed you have a personal blog, what role does that play?

So my blog will have a longer write-up describing every show, along with a bigger version of the cover of the newest show and I will post the playlist if fans want to see the music in name. Then I’ll post the link to the show and have the embedded player in there, which, of course means the show is played through Mixcloud. I make sure my shows don’t go anywhere else because I don't want to put up any other stream where every play is not accounting for an artist getting paid. So my blog is just an extension of what I’m doing on Mixcloud.

Many of your subscribers pay you above the amount you ask for - why do you think that is?

I really don't know! Maybe because a lot of them stopped paying for satellite radio when I left Sirius and as more and more law restricted satellite radio to where you could only get shows online. So they left and followed me to Mixcloud. I noticed that I really haven't lost any subscribers, I honestly very rarely even look at that to see how many there are. But it's stayed the same, and I value all of them because they listen to every show; the whole thing. They've really been my lifeline, especially as I’ve been recovering from cancer. My ability to make shows has really helped.

What are some of the key lessons you’ve taken from the subscribers to your channel?

That you're not the only one that thinks the way you do about music. Sometimes when you're in the middle of creating, you think there's nobody else that feels like this but there's always somebody else out there or a tribe of people that exist, and that’s great to know. My channel has kind of reinforced some things from me, to create from the heart and do what you love. Don't listen to anybody. Don't take criticism from anybody that you wouldn't also take advice from. Creating is never as easy as it looks but do it because you have to do it. I think you need that kind of passion and drive in everything you do.

Do you plan to build on your subscriber numbers in the future? What’s next for you?

Not really. I mean, what's going to happen is going to happen. If I could afford to publicize my channel, I would, but it's got to be more of a word of mouth thing. I just want to play music and put what I think are great sets together and take you on a journey. If I can make somebody love one new song that they’ve never heard before, that's the payment I want.

If you had three tips for anyone who wants to get the best of Channel Subscriptions what would they be?

Try not to have your shows last longer than three hours. I’ve found that with three hour shows, I get more interaction from my fans as opposed to longer ones. I was used to doing 5-6 hour shows in the past but I've cut it back a little bit because I think you can do what you want to do in three. 

When somebody tries to get in touch, always get back to them, make yourself available and approachable and show your appreciation for them. Make your page as affordable as you can. I don't want to charge more than what the minimum is.

With all this, I think you'll be okay, as long as you're doing it for the right reasons. If you're using Mixcloud because you think you're going to get rich, don’t think of it that way. Don't make money or income a big part of your equation. I’m not saying you should do it for nothing, but don't make money your primary focus. It has to come from your heart.

Learn more about how you can earn with Channel Subscriptions.

Check out more musical deep dives on Campus, including this guide on how to use Mixcloud Stats to find new communities.