So you’re an artist or are in a band. Things are going well. Your fan base is growing and you’re playing more and more shows every month.
But there’s one big problem: you’re not making any money.
Disclaimer: Links throughout the article are affiliated. If you click on a link and make a purchase, I will get a commission at no extra cost to you.
My breakthrough began in 2017 when I began following the guys at Income School. I highly recommend all their content.
How can you take the skills you have and turn them into something more? In this article we’ll be describing 13 ways to make money as a musician.
We all have a desire to create and make awesome music. It’s too bad that life gets in the way of us doing so. While we may have to hustle until we “make it”, some options are better than others.
Table of Contents
- 1) Teach Music on the Side
- 2) Start a YouTube Channel
- 3) Try Fiverr.com
- 4) Create a Digital Business
- 5) Sell Merch On-Demand With Printful
- 6) Sell Your Music Online With Digital Distribution
- 7) Get Your Music Synced In TV, Film, and Video Games
- 8) Produce Music For Other Bands and Musicians
- 9) Create Music Specifically For TV, Film, and Video Games
- 10) Perform On a Street Corner For Money (Busking)
- 11) Become an Affiliate for Music Companies
- 12) Create an Awesome Music Blog That Helps Other Musicians
- 13) Work As a Studio Musician
- Conclusion – Ways To Make Money As a Musician
1) Teach Music on the Side
Are you proficient enough at your instrument(s) to be able to teach? This is one way to make extra money as a musician. You can teach music lessons at a physical store or online via Skype.
If you don’t want to teach one on one, you could potentially create your own lesson course on a web platform like Udemy.com.
Private music teachers on average make between $33,900 and $136,169 according to payscale.com. Interested in teaching private lessons? Check out takelessons.com to create a profile and find students to teach.
2) Start a YouTube Channel
Are you creative and entertaining? Consider starting a YouTube channel! If you don’t already have one to promote yourself or your band, you should definitely make one.
People love to watch drum covers, especially. If interested, be sure to check out my in-depth guide on how to film a drum cover.
Not only will you be able to grow your existing fan base, you’ll be able to monetize your videos and make money from them! Check out this video of a guy ripping a keytar solo!
Note: At the beginning of 2018, YouTube changed it’s eligibility requirements for the YouTube Partner Program. You now need a minimum of 1,000 subscribers and 4,000+ hours of watch time in the past 12 months.
3) Try Fiverr.com
Fiverr.com is an online marketplace with people selling various skilled trades for the low cost of $5.
Are you good at graphic design? Want to sell your talent as a voice-over artist? It’s super easy to create a listing and get started.
Now, not everything you sell on Fiverr has to be $5, but it’s the base price. For example, you can have many add-ons to your listing that make it more valuable and personalized for each customer.
4) Create a Digital Business
More and more companies are beginning to teach affiliate and influencer marketing. What is that, you may ask?
In a nutshell, affiliate marketing is recommending a product to someone and getting paid a commission for doing so.
It’s extremely lucrative and can bring in a nice chunk of side cash. As I mentioned at the top of the article, this is my favorite way to earn a side income while pursuing music.
The guys at Income School have an incredible YouTube channel and a course that teaches all the fundamentals of starting your own blog (like this one) and monetizing it with affiliate links and advertisements.
I really like this method as you’ll making money as a musician and learn new skills like SEO, email marketing, and much more.
If your online business grows large enough, you’ll have what’s called a “passive income” stream where you just collect your check every month.
Now, not everyone is going to achieve passive income, but it’s a goal that could allow you to live out your passion!
5) Sell Merch On-Demand With Printful
This is my favorite way to make money as a musician, as well as go about merchandise. I assume if you’re an artist, you probably have some merch.
What I bet you didn’t know, is that you can sell merchandise online without ever having to order it or have inventory collecting dust. Thanks to Printful, it’s possible.
You can have T-Shirts, mugs, blankets, you name it made for you or your band. The way it works is simple.
- You create designs and upload them to Printful
- Printful integrates them with your Shopify, BigCartel, or WooCommerce website
- Someone makes an order from your website
- Printful prints the merchandise on-demand
- You make a profit after the cost of good and labor fee
The profit margins are actually good and you never have to worry about investing money into merchandise that might not sell! I wrote up an in-depth guide on how to create your own merchandise.
6) Sell Your Music Online With Digital Distribution
This one’s pretty obvious, but you should have your music available for sale and for streaming online. You can be someone who lives in the past who thinks physical CDs are the way to go.
We have seen a gigantic decline in physical CD sales to the point where vinyl has hit a 25 year high in sales.
Picking A Music Distribution Company
There are many choices out there for releasing music. Here’s our top picks for digital distribution:
Seperate of the main ones, a new cryptocurrency based distribution network called Choon is launching in April.
Choon is powered by the Ethereum blockchain and supposedly pays out more per stream than any other platform. There’s a longer article in Billboard on Choon that you can read here.
7) Get Your Music Synced In TV, Film, and Video Games
As a band or artist, you need to take advantage of every opportunity you get. No, this is not selling it. There’s no such thing as selling out as a band in 2018, if you ask me.
Getting you music in television shows, movies, and games is great exposure and sometimes can pay well! Check out Film Music Agent to register and submit your music.
8) Produce Music For Other Bands and Musicians
Are you the person in the band responsible for recording demos? A good way to make a side income is to start recording other bands!
Offer recording time to bands you play shows with in the local scene. I suggest you only do this if you’re confident enough with your production and engineering skills.
9) Create Music Specifically For TV, Film, and Video Games
Unlike #7, this music will be separate from your personal or band’s music. You will be specifically making music for TV shows, movies, and video games.
Often times, these type of tracks are instrumental and just provide a mood. Generally, this is referred to as “production music” or library music. You can read an excellent article on library music from Dan Graham at SoundOnSound.
10) Perform On a Street Corner For Money (Busking)
Here’s another solid way to make money as a musician.
Busking is literally how I made extra money in college. I played in a brass band and on Saturday mornings, we would visit a popular farmers market and play for people on the street.
We would usually split a good chunk of cash and come home with $100 each for just a few hours!
11) Become an Affiliate for Music Companies
Like I mentioned earlier in #4, affiliate marketing is huge right now. You can make big money promoting your favorite products online.
For example, you can join the Amazon Associates program, find products you actually use on Amazon.com, create review videos on YouTube, and generate money from affiliate links inside your video’s description. Pretty awesome.
12) Create an Awesome Music Blog That Helps Other Musicians
This is somewhat my approach, as I do write lots of informative articles, but I also do a bunch of product reviews.
I like to keep it pretty balanced, as I don’t want this website to be only reviews, despite the name being Drumming Review.
Quality blogs can get a lot of traffic if you’re a good writer! You can make decent money off of ad revenue and affiliate links, like I mentioned in #11!
13) Work As a Studio Musician
If you don’t live in Los Angeles, New York, or Nashville, this one is going to be pretty tough. Although you can work through an online platform like SoundBetter.com, being in a physical location is always better.
Working as a studio musician can be very rewarding and can lead to more and more gigs as you get started. According to Chron, a studio musician makes an average-annual salary of $64,979 at the entry-level.
I don’t totally buy this number, as you’re basically a freelancer. However, it does seem that there is money to be made!
Conclusion – Ways To Make Money As a Musician
Some of the best ways to make money are often overlooked. In fact, saving money and cutting expenses can make a large impact in your monthly income.
For example, my last wireless plan with AT&T was costing me $114 per month. I recently switched to Mint Mobile and now pay only $15 a month.
I was worried that the service would be bad, but so far it has been great. What a relief it has been.
Do you do any side hustles like the ones we listed to make money as a musician? Let us know in the comments and also, let us know if we missed anything.
Thanks for reading. 🙂