Early in your career, income from your music might be unable to cover your basic needs. You’ll need some other form of income to sustain yourself. Independent artists now have access to more revenue-generating opportunities than ever before.This doesn’t mean it’s easy to earn money as a musician, but it does mean you have more options to explore, more ways of aligning your talents with an income stream, and more ways of putting your songs, performances, and merch to work.

Songwriting / Publishing Royalties

Anytime you perform or one of your songs is played on streaming services,you can earn money in the form of royalties. The amount you receive varies on the amount of play your song gets and how long, but the money adds up. To start earning money from royalties, you’ll need to register with a royalty collection company. It’s their job to keep track of your music and collect money on your behalf. Then every so often (Usually months), They’ll send you a check for the royalties you’ve collected since your last payout.

Licensing your music for multimedia use

Video games, movies, tv, advertisements! All hese mediums need music in various projects and often seekout outside music creators to create songs that fit. The way licensing works is the song copyright owner(s) are compensated for limited use of their song. So essentially, they “rent” your song to be played for a certain amount of time and the owner gets paid for the usage. Competition for licensing is being more competitive, but don’t let that discourage you, there’s still room to rent out your songs. 

Physical / Digital merch

Selling merch is a great way to both help build deeper connections with your fans while they can help support the musician they love. T-shirts,  posters, and smaller items like buttons and stickers are usually good sellers. Merch doesn’t alway have to be in a physical form. There are plenty of fans who would pay a subscription to gain access to bonus content, sheet music, video lessons, and more. The bonus with digital merch is that while it may take more time to make, it's cheaper to produce and you don’t need to keep track of inventory. Be sure to have all of your merch items available for fans to buy directly through your website.

Online Courses

If you have mastered a skill up to a certain level, then you can teach it to other people. Whether you play instruments, know how to read notes, get musical theory, can sing (classical, jazz or any other style), produce music, know intellectual property law or get the music biz, these are all skills that people want to learn. Lessons, Workshops, digital products; There’s many ways to you can sell music education

Social Video monetization

Keeping an active social media presence is essential for any musician. If you have a large enough following, you may be able to monetize it. On Youtube, eligible channels have a way to earn ad revenue on their videos via the Partner Program. If you’ve built up a social media fanbase, local businesses, music companies, and even major brands could sponsor you to reach those fans. You can offer visibility with your live shows, on social media, your YouTube channel, and more.

There are many different ways to earn money as a musician, without having to rely on album sales and tour tickets. You might be surprised what skills you have to offer and the different ways in which they can be used within the music industry. Playing original music isn’t the only way to make it big, and many of today's successful musicians because of the networking opportunities that became available through giving music lessons, audio mixing and selling their songs to others.

Written By: Victoria Nelson