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  • Writer's pictureTor Killingsworth

12 Best Ways to Make Money as a Musician

The ultimate dream job is to be a full-time musician.

Doing what you love and making a monthly income out of it is a win-win situation.

The idea of relying on their talent to support yourself may be a bit scary for aspirational artists, musicians, or composers. But if you take the correct approach and combine brains, willpower, and creativity, you might be able to transform your passion for music into a reliable source of income, promote your music career, and make a living out of it.

I always say that being a full-time musician or artist is no different from being a technician, lawyer, or carpenter. If you show up for work every morning, you’ll get there eventually.

Diversifying your income is one of the best methods to achieve this. Don’t keep all the eggs in one basket, and try to find many sources of income that will end up being a decent monthly salary.


Live show
Making a living from live performances

Here are our top 12 ways to make a living from your music.

License your music.

Licensing your music for use in other media is a fantastic way to earn money.

In return for royalties or a one-time fee, you grant rights for the use of your music in commercials, video games, television shows, motion pictures, and other media ventures. Platforms like music production libraries and sync agencies can help you connect with potential licensing opportunities. Music supervisors and sync agents are pivotal figures in the entertainment industry, and if you want to get your music to the top placements, they are the ones to approach.

There are a few ways to connect with them: you can attend industry events, utilize online platforms like LinkedIn or music licensing websites, email contacts, Twitter, or any other way you can approach them.

Ask for permission to send your music before you send it; that’s always important to remember. These professionals are on the lookout for high-quality and original songs that suit the creative vision of projects, along with tracks that offer clear and flexible licensing options.

While earnings in music licensing can vary significantly based on factors like project budget, the media in which your song will be broadcast, and track popularity, successful placements can yield a steady income, with music supervisors and sync agents often earning commissions ranging from 25% to 50% of the licensing fee, providing lucrative opportunities for talented musicians.

Create music for production music catalogs.

Production music catalogs are constantly in search of fresh, high-quality music tracks to license to filmmakers, content creators, and other media professionals, this is a great option for professional musicians and composers.

By producing and composing music specifically tailored for these catalogs and establishing a wide catalog, you can sell music online, sell digital downloads, earn mechanic royalties each time your music is used, providing a steady income stream.

The way music is sourced for different media projects has been transformed by different production music companies like Pond5, Musicbed, Artlist, and many others.

Some of these production music websites work exclusively, some work non-exclusively. Usually, your earnings will be higher if you decide to join an exclusive deal. You shouldn’t join a platform that offers less than 50%; that’s not a fair deal for any artist.

Also bear in mind that composing production music or scores is different from writing a song. You’ll need to deliver emotion to a scene rather than write and produce a song for your own music portfolio. Selling music on a production music catalog is one of the best ways to earn a passive income.



Production music catalog
Production music catalog


Live Gigs

Music performances remains a classic way for musicians to earn money, but the scene has changed completely, and it’s much easier to manage and perform a gig these days. Whether you're playing live music in bars, clubs, weddings, or festivals, live performances can help you build a fan base and generate revenue through ticket sales, merchandise, and even tip jars. Yes, it’s the hard way, and it’s not for everyone, but it’s still one of the best ways to grow your audience.


Setting up live gigs has evolved in exciting ways with the emergence of new trends like "living room gigs." This innovative concept allows musicians to perform intimate, personalized shows in the cozy ambiance of someone's home.

To organize such an event, you can utilize various apps and online platforms that help you book gigs for your band.


These platforms often connect musicians with hosts interested in hosting live music in their homes. By creating a profile, showcasing your music, and specifying your availability, you can find hosts willing to open their living rooms to your music.

The appeal of living room concert lies in the intimate connection between artists and their audience, offering a unique and memorable experience for both. This trend not only revitalizes the live music scene but also fosters community engagement in a personal setting. You can also stream your live music on your YouTube channel and get your music heard by your music fans and also create music videos out of your live content.

Become a session or studio musician.

If you excel at playing a particular instrument, consider becoming a session musician. Many recording studios and artists hire session musicians to contribute to their projects.


It's a fantastic method to earn money while demonstrating your abilities and building relationships with business leaders. The earnings potential from sessions, whether they are live performances, studio recording sessions, or any other musical endeavor, is highly variable. It depends on a multitude of factors, including an artist's or musician's level of experience and recognition, the type of session, the location, and the specific terms negotiated.


While some artists might receive a nominal fee for local live sessions, others, especially established acts or session musicians, can command substantial pay for studio work or performances.

Ultimately, how much one can earn from sessions is a complex equation, and it often requires a combination of talent, networking, and effective negotiation to maximize potential income. It varies anywhere from $100 a session to up to $1,500.



Pianist
Making an earning from music lessons


Sell Beats

Producers and beatmakers can sell their instrumentals to artists and content creators looking for music to accompany their work.

Platforms like BeatStars and SoundClick provide opportunities to showcase and sell your beats. Beat prices can vary significantly depending on elements including the producer's reputation, the beat's exclusivity, and the production's complexity.

Licensing non-exclusive beats often costs between $20 and several hundred dollars and permits numerous musicians to use the same beat. Exclusive rights to a beat are frequently more expensive, ranging from a few hundred to several thousand dollars, and they grant sole ownership and creative control.

BeatStars, Airbit, and SoundClick are just a few websites that cater to beatmakers wishing to sell their beats online. These platforms give producers the tools they need to market and sell their beats, collaborate with musicians, and offer a range of licensing choices to suit their requirements and preferences.


Offer vocal or instrumental lessons.

If you're a skilled musician, consider teaching others your craft. Offering music or instrument lessons can be a rewarding way to make money, and it’s pretty easy, actually. Today, you can also offer online music lessons which can expand your client base. The price of music lessons, whether instrumental or vocal, can vary significantly depending on a number of factors.

These factors include the setting, the duration of the course, the level of customization, and the instructor's subject-matter expertise.


A typical hour of music training might cost anywhere from $20 to $100 or more. Higher prices are often charged by well-known lecturers with extensive expertise.

It is common for the costs to fall within this range for vocal lessons for singers. Vocal instructors may charge in accordance with the length of the lesson and the degree of instruction provided, such as beginning, intermediate, or advanced.


A lot of voice coaches also provide discounts or bundle deals for many lessons. The expense of voice lessons can be considered an investment in strengthening aspiring singers' talents and possible careers in music.


Public Performance Royalties

You are entitled to royalties when your music is played in public settings like clubs, restaurants, radio, TV shows, cinemas, and more. To make sure you get your fair share of these royalties, join a performing rights organization like ASCAP, BMI, or SESAC. The timing of royalty payments also varies. Performance royalties, collected by organizations like ASCAP or BMI in the United States, are paid out periodically based on usage data, often quarterly or semi-annually. Mechanical royalties from sales and streaming platforms are generally paid through music distribution companies and may have varying payout schedules, from monthly to quarterly payments. Regarding media, the income you receive from royalties can differ significantly. Television and film tend to pay more substantial synchronization fees due to their broader reach and budgets, while radio airplay can provide a consistent source of performance royalties. Streaming platforms, though prevalent, often yield lower per-stream payouts but can accumulate significant income over time with high streaming numbers. On Spotify, for example, you’ll receive $4,000 per one million streams. Ultimately, the earnings from royalties depend on your catalog's size, popularity, and the platforms and media in which your music is used. Diversifying your income streams by having your music in various media can help maximize your earnings as a music creator.



Live show
Public performance royalties

Ghost Production

For electronic music producers, ghost production can be a lucrative option. Many DJs and artists hire ghost producers to create tracks for them while remaining anonymous.


This allows you to leverage your production skills without being in the spotlight. It's critical to comprehend how all parties involved in the creation and distribution of a song or composition are given credit and compensation.

Usually, songwriters and composers are compensated with royalties when their musical works are performed or broadcast. These royalties might come through mechanical sources like sales and streaming as well as from performance sources like live performances. The sale and streaming of recorded performances, including master royalties and potential performance royalties for vocal contributions, generate revenue for recording artists, in contrast.


Become a mixer or mastering engineer.

If you have a knack for audio engineering and have the experience to mix or master a track, offering mixdown and mastering services to other musicians can be a profitable venture.

Many musicians are prepared to pay experts to improve the caliber of their music. Providing specialized services, royalties, and music sales are just a handful of the various ways the music industry can make money. Websites like SoundBetter.com and Fiverr.com have evolved into important venues for audio professionals, particularly mixing and mastering engineers, to sell their services and earn money. These platforms give audio engineers the chance to market their skills, set fair prices, and broaden their clientele, giving them the chance to make a reliable living while assisting in the creation of excellent music and audio content.

Earnings can be somewhere between $100 for track mastering and $1,500 for mixing work, which is often more complicated.



Music producer, mastering engineer
Becoming a mixer or a mastering engineer.


Sell Sample Packs

Sample packs containing loops, one-shots, and sound effects are highly sought after by producers and content creators.

If you have a unique sound or style, you can create and sell sample packs online through platforms like Splice or your own website.

Websites that facilitate the sale of samples have become essential for musicians, producers, and sound designers looking to monetize their creative work. Platforms like Splice, Loopmasters, and Sample Magic offer a marketplace where individuals can upload and sell their sample packs, loops, and sound design creations. Musicians and producers often turn to these platforms to find unique and high-quality samples to enhance their music production projects. For creators, these websites provide a marketplace to showcase their sound design skills, earn royalties, and connect with a global community of producers. It's a win-win situation that allows both buyers and sellers to access a vast and diverse library of sound elements while supporting and empowering fellow creatives in the music production industry.

Become a music curator.

If you run a Spotify playlist with a decent amount of followers, a nice blog with some reasonable traffic, or a TikTok channel with a lot of followers, you can make an income from reviewing songs from your playlist, blog, or channel. You can register on a platform like OneSubmit and start reviewing songs. Like everything else, earning varies from a few hundred dollars up to $1,000 a month.

It all depends on the number of playlists, followers, streams you generate, genre versatility, and more.

Streams

If you are a popular artist with a lot of followers and streams, you can generate an income from it. A million streams can generate different incomes from streaming services.


Spotify: $4,000 Tidal: $12,000 Apple Music: $5,000 Deezer: $4,700 Amazon Music: $5,000


Earnings are delivered quarterly through your music distributor.



Spotify streams
Making an earning from streams

Final Words

While making money in the music business can be difficult, you can increase your chances of success by diversifying your sources of revenue through these ten possibilities. It's crucial to keep in mind that creating a long-lasting career in music frequently calls for a blend of talent, commitment, and entrepreneurial drive. You can transform your love of music into a fulfilling and lucrative career by investigating these choices and remaining dedicated to your skill.



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