Want to make a living in the music industry and step up your music career? Here are the best ways to make money as a musician.
A lot of people think that to make a living as a musician, you’ve got to get lucky and score a major record deal. But this couldn’t be further from the truth.
Despite the naysayers, the truth is that you don’t have to be the next Kanye West to get your bread. There are plenty of ways to make a full-time income as an amateur musician without getting signed by a label—you’ve just got to think outside of the box.
That’s why in this post, we’re going to be looking at the 6 most creative ways to make money from music. We’ll be covering a mix of different methods, including ‘easy earners’ that lots of musicians have already had success with, plus a few creative ideas you might not have considered.
Let’s jump into it!
Sell your music as digital downloads
One of the most straightforward ways to make money from your own music is to sell your songs, albums, and EPs as digital downloads directly to your fans. While many consumers prefer to stream music these days, there’s still a huge market out there of hardcore fans who are willing to pay to download songs and albums.
You can tap into that market by creating your own online store using a website builder for bands like Bandtheme, and then uploading your music as digital products. In 5 minutes you’ll be ready to go.
Earn money by streaming music
Most listeners these days get their music through streaming platforms like Spotify and Apple Music. And as a result, streaming now makes up a whopping 80% of the music industry’s revenue.
It goes without saying, then, that every musician that’s hoping to make it a career should be distributing their music to streaming platforms.
But be warned: you won’t get rich from streaming revenues alone unless you’re one of the lucky few to release a best-selling hit. Apple Music pays artists just one penny per stream in royalties, so you’d need to get hundreds of thousands of listeners per month to make a decent income.
That said, 13,000 artist catalogs on Spotify still manage to earn at least $50,000, so it’s definitely possible. Plus, at the very least, distributing your music to streaming platforms will help more people to discover your music. And the more people that discover your music, the more money you can make selling music downloads and other products to your fans.
Sell vinyl and CDs
Thought nobody bought CDs and vinyl anymore? Think again. Physical media—and vinyl, in particular—is making a comeback and seeing a resurgence in sales. In fact, sales of vinyl and CDs grew by 5% and 13% respectively in 2019.
Combined, sales of these types of physical music products raked in over $700 million in revenue for the music industry in the first half of the year alone.
And no, you don’t necessarily need to be a big-name artist with a huge following to sell CDs. Even as an amateur musician playing small gigs, you can set up a merch stall and sell your CDs at live music events to your audience to make some extra money on the side.
License your music
Another way to make money from your music is through licensing. Licensing your music ensures that as the copyright owner, you’ll get paid when your song is used in movies, TV shows, commercials, etc.
Licensing fees can vary massively, and the amount you’ll earn usually depends on the scale of the project your music is used in.
For example, music licensing company Musicbed charges $49 to use songs in wedding videos, but $499 to use songs in films with a budget of $250k-$500k.
Play live shows & cover gigs
Gigging is the bread and butter of musicians. It’s a staple way to make money that many artists rely on heavily.
Playing live shows and cover gigs is a great way to connect with your audience, build a fanbase, and earn money from ticket sales, merchandise, and tips. Even if you’re an amateur musician, you can still earn money by playing at local events and festivals.
Offer Music Lessons
Another way to make money as a musician is by offering music lessons. Whether you’re a beginner or an advanced musician, you can teach others how to play an instrument, compose music, or produce tracks. This can be done in person or online, and it’s a great way to share your knowledge and skills while earning money.
In conclusion, there are a variety of ways to make money as a musician. From the more traditional methods like selling your music and playing live shows, to the more innovative options like licensing your music and offering music lessons, the opportunities are endless. With a little creativity and hard work, you can turn your passion for music into a sustainable career.