Musicians now have more power over their careers than they did in the past. You may use some low-cost tools and platforms to record, distribute, sell, stream, and promote your music. However, one of the most difficult aspects of make money as a musician.
If you want to be a full-time musician, you’ll need another source of income from the music industry. The necessity to diversify your cash streams is part of the realities of being a working musician today. Your artistic pursuits will be more successful if you can diversify your income. With record sales on the slide, you’ll need to be flexible when it comes to your sources of prospective cash streams.
How to make money as a musician
Some of the revenue sources described here may seem self-evident, while others may be something you haven’t explored in your profession yet. But perhaps this list of twenty-one revenue streams for musicians may inspire you to think of new ways to supplement your music income.
1. Sell Your Music
Digital distribution is essential; you must be accessible across all media channels or locate a helpful aggregator that will distribute your music over the internet for you or do it yourself. It’s also crucial to sell songs at performances. You may sell CD-Rs at your performances or online, but make sure they’re reasonably priced. If you’re making physical copies. See if you can obtain them on consignment at your local record store. Even with significant discounts, you can replicate your CDs for a low cost, including printing and a plastic-wrapped box, so the majority of each sale will be profit.
2. Facebook Live
One of my favorite ways for musicians to generate continuous material and make money as a musician right away is through the use of social media. That doesn’t have to be restricted to Facebook Live. It may be YouTube Live, Instagram Live, or any other live platform. Dawn Beyer was one of my favorite podcast guests.
She earned almost $50,000 in a year performing Facebook Live Concerts, and she now teaches other musicians how to do the same. Consistency is essential here as well. Dawn used to go live every day on her Facebook page. I recommend going live at least once a week, probably three times a week. All you have to do to make money as a musician is put up a virtual tip jar.
You may do this quickly and use PayPal or your preferred app. There are other applications for this accessible online, or you can just set this up using Square or by linking your venom or Cash App account. Dawn Beyer accepts payments using PayPal.
These aren’t needed to be belonging sessions. I recommend limiting yourself to three to five tracks. Engaging with your audience is one of the keys to making this a success. Watch one of Dawn’s videos to see how she does it. You may engage them by asking them questions or just acknowledging them when they join the live session.
To begin started, I recommend directing visitors to your artist page from your own Facebook profile. Start with one every week on your page and one per week on your artist page. Most of your audience will be your friends and family who follow you on your page at the beginning, which is why I recommend starting there.
That is my favorite since it not only helps you to earn more money. But it also allows you to expand your brand. Consistency is essential when it comes to generating YouTube videos. You should release at least one and up to three videos every week. These don’t have to be particularly long or difficult to understand.
The important thing is to stop planning and just get started. After that, with each subsequent video, you focus on improving by 1%. It’s easy to make a movie with your phone these days or to purchase a camera for a reasonable price. Also, there are so many different editing tools available these days. That makes editing your videos a breeze.
To keep your video material varied and engaging, you may generate some content using it. Covers, demonstrations of new originals, lyric videos, music videos, Vlogs showing a behind-the-scenes look at your journey, instructional films, or music lessons are examples of what you can do.
The most important thing is to understand your audience and provide material that will benefit them. Entertainment and education are two essential ways to provide value through your content. So, before you start generating the content, consider what would be enjoyable to your audience.
4. Sell Merchandise
Band merchandise is a significant industry, especially if you’re a singer or a brand with a devoted fan base. Indie bands and signed labels may both offer their goods at a reasonable price. If you are performing live, print a modest batch to sell at your merch.
Booth can help you make some additional money. But don’t go crazy with pricey purchases unless you’re certain there’s a market for them. Make and sell your t-shirts, buttons and badges, stickers, and other stuff at concerts and on your website. Merchandise sells particularly well at performances when your fans have just seen you perform and are completely enthralled.
Merchandise may add a nice little boost to your income if you keep your overhead low. One of the most unpredictable methods to make money as a musician in the music industry is through merchandise sales. Even if you play to a sold-out crowd, it’s feasible to sell no goods. However, any promotion is good advertising, and you might be able to afford some giveaways.
5. Write for Music Blogs
You can learn an unlimited number of music business skills in today’s world of DIY musicians. Artists are frequently their first manager, booking agency, publicist, label, etc. The longer you’ve been doing it, the more you’ve honed your skills in these areas.
Everyone has a different experience and a different manner of presenting it. There is a fantastic opportunity to supplement your income if you enjoy writing outside of music and educating others. That may pay anything from $25 and $100 per piece.
The best thing to do here is to be proactive and write articles ahead of time, share them with others, and pitch them to other sites. Blogs are always on the market for fresh material and new contributors with a unique viewpoint. Ari Herstand, who runs the popular DIY music site Ari’s Take, is one of the most successful musicians in the area.
6. Teach Music or Instrument
You could teach people music depending on how much time you have available and your job schedule. Many artists teach a specific instrument, theory, or a mix of the two to encourage young musicians to make money as a musician for their careers. You may sign up to be a substitute teacher regardless of your age or experience. Some school systems even allow you to pick and choose which classes you wish to substitute.
You may be the sub they call on to fill a long-term music teaching post after you have your foot in the door. You can even make YouTube courses for studying music and instruments. If you can draw a large number of people’s attention, you can make some money. That may be a good method to supplement your income while also allowing you to improve your talent.
7. Gig at Weddings or Bar
Some musicians frown on performing cover songs at bars, weddings, and other private occasions. You’re not going to become a rock star by performing at weddings. However, those performances might pay well and allow you to make money as a musician while playing your instrument. There’s nothing wrong with it. And if you perform well, word will get out, and you’ll have a legitimate business on your hands in no time.
That is a pretty dependable form of revenue that allows you to play music if you’re still working on building a regular audience for your music. You can receive royalties from live performances if you re-perform an original work.
8. Work As a DJ
Isn’t it true that you know music and how to have a good time? Start DJing for events, and while you’re doing it, throw in a few of your tunes. The majority of venues will offer the band a substantial portion of the money spent on concert tickets. The larger the venue you can fill, the higher your salary will be. Bookings in clubs and pubs are the most common way for DJs to generate and make money as a musician.
Rock bands usually book at rock venues with the occasional nightclub thrown in for good measure. Throwing some concerts when you have a large fan base is a very financially sensible option. It’s a fantastic method to have your music heard. Unless you’re making hip-hop and DJing a polka party, that is.
9. Sell Merch
Musicians may make some money selling merchandise and make money as a musician, both online and during live concerts. For years, merch has been the leading revenue driver for Bandzoogle members, with $9.4 million worth of merch sold through our members’ websites alone in 2020.
T-shirts, CDs, and smaller products such as mugs, buttons, and stickers are frequently popular. You may sell goods on your website utilizing the print-on-demand service Printful if you don’t know what to offer or don’t want to hold inventory.
10. Collect Public Performance Royalties
If you’re a songwriter, you’ll need to join a Performing Rights Organization (PRO). To guarantee that composers and publishers are compensated for the usage of their music, a PRO collects royalties on their behalf.
Public performance royalties are one of the royalties that PROs earn. They must pay for the use of a song whether it is broadcast on the radio, on TV, at music venues, restaurants, sports arenas, shopping malls, or any other public place. The PRO is in charge of collecting these fees and distributing the funds to the appropriate rights holders.