How to Make Money as a Musician

25 Ways How to Make Money as a Musician

Alright, rock stars and upcoming musical legends, you’ve got the talent and the tunes, but how the heck do you make money as a musician?

Let’s straight into ways you can monetize your music, even if you aren’t selling out arenas… yet.

1. Gigging – Old School but Gold School

Yeah, this one’s a no-brainer. Performing live is the bread and butter of any musician. Whether it’s bars, weddings, corporate events, or festivals, there’s always someone willing to pay for live music. Just make sure you charge appropriately. Don’t undersell your worth!

2. Merchandising – Slap That Logo Everywhere

Got a catchy band logo or a memorable album cover? Turn it into t-shirts, mugs, hats, or even stickers. Fans love to represent their favorite artists, and every shirt they wear is free advertising for you. It’s a win-win.

3. Streaming Platforms – Hello, 21st Century

Platforms like Spotify, Apple Music, and Tidal might not pay a fortune for individual streams, but they can add up. More importantly, they get your music to a wider audience. Some indie artists make a decent chunk of change from streaming alone!

4. Digital Downloads – Yes, People Still Buy Music

Though streaming is king these days, there’s still a market for digital downloads. Websites like iTunes and Bandcamp allow fans to purchase and own your music. It’s another revenue stream, so why not?

5. Licensing – Put That Track on TV

Every time a show, movie, or commercial needs a background track, they pay for the rights. This is where you come in. Websites like Audiojungle or Songtradr allow you to put your music up for licensing. If chosen, you can get a sweet paycheck.

6. YouTube Monetization – More than Just Cat Videos

Got a music video or even a lyric video? Pop it onto YouTube. Once you hit a certain number of views and subscribers, you can monetize your videos with ads. Plus, if your tune becomes the next viral hit, think of the exposure!

7. Teach – Share the Knowledge

You’ve spent years perfecting your craft, so why not teach the next generation? Whether it’s private lessons, group classes, or online courses, teaching can be both rewarding and profitable.

8. Session Work – Be the Behind-the-Scenes Star

Not every musician wants the spotlight. Some are happy to play in the background. Studios are often on the lookout for talented musicians for recording sessions. It’s consistent work and pays well.

9. Royalties – The Gift that Keeps on Giving

Every time your song plays on the radio, in a café, or even in an elevator, you’re entitled to royalties. Organizations like ASCAP or BMI collect and distribute these royalties to musicians. Make sure you’re registered.

10. Crowdfunding – Let the Fans Fund You

Platforms like Kickstarter or Indiegogo are perfect if you have a project in mind but are short on cash. Offer fans unique incentives like signed albums, exclusive gigs, or even a personal dinner, and watch the funds roll in.

11. Affiliate Marketing – Make Money off Recommendations

If you’ve got a decent following on social media or a blog, consider affiliate marketing. Recommend products (like your favorite instruments or recording software) with a unique affiliate link. Every sale made through your link earns you a commission.

12. Patreon – Monthly Support from Die-hard Fans

It’s like a fan club with perks. Fans pledge a certain amount every month in exchange for exclusive content like unreleased tracks, behind-the-scenes footage, or personal Q&As. It’s a steady income source, and it keeps fans engaged.

13. Busking – Street Performances with a Twist

Don’t underestimate the power of a street corner and a hat for change. Busking isn’t just for newbies; it’s a fantastic way for established artists to connect directly with the public, try out new songs, and earn cash in the process. Some cities require permits, so be sure to check local regulations.

14. Collaborations – Team Up and Cash In

Collaborate with other artists in your genre or even from different genres. When you do a feature or joint project, you’re exposing your music to their audience and vice versa. Plus, it splits the workload!

15. Custom Gigs – Personal Concerts for Fans

Offer exclusive intimate gigs for hardcore fans. Websites like Sofar Sounds offer platforms where artists can perform in unique settings (like someone’s living room) for a small group of fans.

16. Music Libraries – Stock Music for Creatives

Many video creators, podcasters, and even game developers turn to music libraries for royalty-free tunes. Websites like Epidemic Sound or PremiumBeat allow musicians to upload their music and get paid whenever someone licenses it.

17. Fan Memberships – Exclusive Access for a Price

Create a membership system on your website. Offer exclusive content, discounts on merchandise, or early access to tickets. It provides fans a sense of belonging while ensuring you a steady income.

18. Songwriting – Craft Tunes for Others

Maybe you’re great at creating melodies but don’t fancy performing. Songwriting for other artists can be lucrative. Remember, every pop star’s hit has a genius behind it, and that could be you!

19. Music Workshops – Group Learning Events

Host a workshop or clinic. If you’re an expert in a particular aspect of music, be it songwriting, guitar techniques, or production tips, offer group sessions. It’s about sharing your skills and getting paid for it.

20. Mobile Apps and Games – The Digital Age’s Radio

With the boom in mobile games and apps, developers often need background tracks. Craft tunes specifically tailored for this purpose or offer your existing tracks to game developers.

21. Residuals from Cover Bands

If you’ve written some popular songs, cover bands might perform them. Each time they do, you’re entitled to a cut. Ensure your songs are registered, and keep an ear out for covers.

22. Print Licensing – Sheet Music and Tabs

If your tunes are popular enough or if they’re technical masterpieces, musicians might want to learn them. Transcribe your songs into sheet music or tabs and sell them.

23. DJ Remixes and Sampling

If a DJ wants to remix your song or a hip-hop artist wants to sample a catchy part of your tune, they’ll need to pay for the rights. It’s another way to get your music out there and earn from it.

24. Music Therapy – Healing with Tunes

If you’re into the therapeutic side of music, consider becoming a certified music therapist. It’s a specialized field but can be fulfilling and profitable.

25. Music Blogs and Vlogs – Share Your Journey and Tips

Start a blog or vlog about your musical journey. Share tips, tricks, tutorials, or even day-in-the-life content. Monetize through ads, sponsorships, or paid promotions.

Final Thoughts.

Making money as a musician isn’t always about the big record deal. Sometimes, it’s about grinding, being creative, and utilizing every opportunity. Don’t put all your eggs (or tunes) in one basket. Diversify your income streams.

With the music industry constantly evolving, there are endless avenues to explore. Stay innovative, keep your ears open for opportunities, and always value your art.

Remember, every big musician once played for an audience of none. Keep your passion alive, stay consistent, and the money will follow.