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How To Make Money With Music (40+ Ways To Earn In The Music Industry)

  • Damian Keyes
    Damian Keyes
  • Jan 19th 2022

Making money in your music career isn't some crazy impossible paradox.

The depiction of a 'starving artist' is one we are all too used to, but you don't have to be a completely broke musician.

With a little strategy and being aware of the various revenue streams available in the music business, you can start to apply your skills and generate extra money with music.

So yes, it's totally possible to make a good income as a musician in 2022 and beyond. Don't believe me?

Here are 40+ viable ways to make money with music. If I've missed any in this blog post, let me know!

1. Collect Royalties From Streams

We begin here as this is one of the most common revenue streams associated with indie musicians at the moment.

Streaming services such as Spotify or Apple Music can provide a source of income to musicians.

Increasing your Spotify streams takes a bit of work, but it is worth it for both growing your music fanbase, as well as making money from multiple streams.

It does take a substantial amount of streams to generate a decent payday. Getting your music playlisted on Spotify is a great way to get more out of these streaming services and give your music career a boost.

2. Play Live Shows & Gigs

Whether you go on tour or just play a living room concert, monetizing live performances is one of the oldest methods of making money in the music industry.

Yes, live streaming is becoming more popular for musicians. But there is nothing like the energy of a proper live concert. Generating gig ticket sales and performing live music is how to make money with music in a tried and tested way.

Live band festival

3. Teach 1-1 Music Classes Online

Not every artist wants superstar status. For some, their gratification comes from training other artists to in whatever capacity. In my music industry trends and predictions piece for 2022, I mentioned that we would likely see a rise in musicians leaning towards selling online music lessons as a way to make money.

With Zoom and other video calling software, musicians are now equipped with all the tools necessary to teach guitar, production, and more as an online business. You can also teach face to face as many local businesses do.

4. Sell Courses

If you are going to be selling your expertise in 1-1 music teaching online to make money, why not package your knowledge into handy music video courses to sell online?

Courses for musicians are one of many viable revenue streams to look into.

5. Podcast Editing

If you're a lover of podcasts like I am, you'll know that a podcast can live or die by the quality of its audio production.

The thing is, most podcast hosts and creators know nothing about the ins and outs of audio production. Notice a podcast with loads of audio mistakes and think you can do better? Approach that podcast host with your services and offer to enhance their sound quality with your music production skills.

Microphone headphones

6. Become An Influential Playlist Curator

I've talked a lot about Spotify playlist curators and how to find them so you can promote your own new music.

It's a chaotic world but there is nothing stopping you from creating your own user-generated playlists and gathering a huge following this way. Some playlist curators can charge for spots on their playlists. Whilst I don't strictly agree with this as a revenue stream, it is happening as we speak and is one way to use streaming services in a different way to make money.

7. Voiceover Work

If you have a marketable speaking voice, a quality microphone, and basic speech editing skills, you can make money from voiceover work online.

Companies, influencers, and more will pay for quality voiceover work with a quick turnaround time. Approach places like Revolancer and other freelancing websites to sell your services efficiently.

8. Sell Your Beats and Samples

Music producers have found that this can be one of their main sources of income when done well.

Selling samples and beats helps you spend time working in music and it is a major benefit. There are lots of places to sell your beats online. Whether it's from your own website, your YouTube channel, Soundcloud, or other established online marketplaces. This is a great way of selling music without actually generating music sales from fans via downloads or physical CDs.

Music producer working at home

9. Get A Record Deal

Unfortunately, musicians are conditioned to think that once you sign a record deal with a record label, all of your problems are instantly solved.

It doesn't quite work like that. Yes, you could make money from a record advance via a record label, but it is more likely that the record companies will invest in your music marketing, music videos, social media, advertising, and touring.

10. VIP Experiences & Packages For Fans

When you reach a big enough following, you can learn how to monetize fans who would be interested in upgrades of your already monetized experiences.

Meet and greets, behind-the-scenes content, and more can be a great addition to your content. This can be offered to an exclusive fan club of the most dedicated followers.

11. Crowdfunding Music Videos and Releases

Crowdfunding certainly isn't as popular as used to be, but it can still be a viable method of sourcing extra money for creative projects.

It does help to have an already existing fan base already when going down the crowdfunding route. Fans potentially interested in funding your project on GoFundMe, Indiegogo, or Kickstarter would buy into you if the project seems worth it, but people who haven't heard of you before may feel less inclined to invest financially.

12. Selling Merch

Generating new merch sales for your band or as an artist is a really straightforward way of earning extra income as a musician.

Product stores online are becoming easier and easier to use and it doesn't take long to create some awesome merch or stylish t-shirts and sell it online to your fans. Remember, some of the benefits of playing live gigs as a musician are the extra ways to make money by selling merch face to face. Make sure you include a merch push as part of your band's set list.

13. Video Game Sound Design

The video game industry is by far one of the most profitable entertainment industries on the planet.

As technology around video games becomes more and more sophisticated and more sales are being made, video game production companies frequently have a healthy budget to throw at the experience. And yes, this means music. If you are a gamer yourself as well as a musician, it can be a really unique and satisfying way to earn money by creating inviting soundscapes for video games.

video game entertainment profit

14. Secure Sync Licensing For Your Music

Again, whilst people are consuming other media such as TV, film, video games, adverts, and more, this is a fantastic opportunity to attach your music to another form of content.

Sync licensing is the key to this. Getting your own music featured on a Netflix original or a brand new video game can be a huge source of more money, as well as a huge boost for your profile as an artist online.

15. Make Money With Tipping On Live Streams

The pandemic changed the way that we see music performances being monetized as more musicians switched to streaming live performances to entertain their audience.

If you take a look at TikTok, their decision to include monetization features such as tipping shows clear signs as to where bands and artists can make more money with their music online.

Live streaming for musicians and tipping as a monetization method is more viable now than ever.

16. Collect Public Performance Royalties

Earn performance royalties to increase your income as a musician.

The best option is to register for a professional recording organization (PRO) based on the rights of a performer. They can help collect mechanical royalties and performance royalties on behalf of professional musicians.

You can gain monetary rewards for performing on stage too. If a PRO performs original music at an authorized place, the songwriters are given a performance royalty. It includes bars, club theatres, and all licensed venues where live events are offered.

Ready to join DK-MBA?

17. Sponsorships

Sponsorships, brand deals, and collaborations are all parts of making money online for musicians and influencers.

Make sure that any sponsorships or partnerships you agree to fall in line with your own brand ideals as a musician and don't confuse your audience. Sponsorships can be given in the form of payment, or sometimes free services and equipment in return for the collaborative effort.

These brands can be pushed at live shows, your social media platforms, and more.

18. Sell CDs

Are musicians still using CDs? While sales are down, in some parts, CDs are still being sold in enough volume to consider collecting more than just digital royalties.

The return for live events has made selling a CD to music fans an effective way to gain additional revenue on a gig. It's a fun souvenir for your fans as your original music can turn into physical CD album sales.

19. Writing For Music Publications

Musicians and songwriters are creative beings, and their talents often don't stop at their instruments.

If you are knowledgeable enough about a particular genre, scene, or aspect of the music industry, you could provide written content for popular music blogs in the industry, local press, music business publications, and more in the form of album reviews, live gig reviews, and guides.

20. Transcribe Sheet Music & Lyrics

Okay, music nerds: it's time to shine.

If your music theory is top-notch, you can monetize this skill and transcribe music. You can even sell your ears and transcribe lyrics from listening to music. Look out for job listings on Genius and other sites for this lucrative opportunity for lyric transcription! Yes, you can get paid for listening to music and writing out the lyrics.

Headphones on music sheet notation

21. Busking & Street Performances

Have you ever tried busking before?

It's a totally unique experience and if you haven't tried it before, I totally recommend it! You can even let your fans know where you are going to be and have them turn up to witness your street performances. Yes, it's true that fewer and fewer people are carrying physical cash and coins around with them these days. However, contactless payments and tipping for buskers are on the rise and could be worth looking into as a way of getting money for your music performances.

22. Offering Fan Subscriptions

Offering unique content via a subscription service for fans can keep a steady flow of income for a musician, instead of trying to sell singles and albums every few months.

Getting fans to subscribe to something with their wallets takes a lot of work, but this exclusive content gives the most dedicated fans a reason to do so.

23. Sell Digital Downloads

Yes, you can still sell digital downloads of your original music.

It can be tough when you're competing against streaming services like Apple Music and Spotify, but you can sell music online from your own website or elsewhere if you choose to do so.

24. Make Money From Your YouTube Channel

There are many ways to monetize your YouTube channel if you have a strong audience. One of the most common is via ads. See if you qualify for monetization first, (there are a few requirements) then see if you can become a partner and start monetizing your YouTube music video traffic.

Don't forget other social media platforms like Instagram, Twitter, and TikTok. The fees vary according to platforms and it is important to select the video monetizations for the right social media network to earn more revenue.

Band filming music video

25. Sell Vinyl

Vinyl is still cool and kind of niche. It's a nice memento and serves more as a merch item than it does a physical copy of your music.

However, despite CD sales declining, vinyl is still on the rise. Think about your audience and if they would want or purchase a collectible vinyl of your new music.

26. Session Work

Session work isn't what it used to be, but it's still a great way to earn money as a musician.

It used to be the case that you could be a studio musician for hire. A local band needs a tight drummer to come into the studio and lay down some beats on their new single? That could be you.

Nowadays, like almost everything else on the planet, session work for musicians is more of an online thing. Theoretically, you can be a session guitarist, singer, drummer, bassist, whatever for anyone anywhere in the world!

27. Perform Covers Live at Weddings and Functions

Performing in a covers act for weddings and parties is still one of the most reliable sources of paid gigs around.

It's a huge industry and one you shouldn't ignore. You could be a dep performer that jumps in and plays for a number of bands, picking up some cash on the weekends by playing live music. You could even go a step further and create your own wedding act and pick up your own gigs.

musician playing guitar at wedding reception

28. Create Custom Jingles For Vloggers and YouTubers

Writing jingles is a viable source of income for composing music.

From Youtube channel intros to radio stations, everyone wants original music! More importantly, they don't want the same royalty-free stuff that everyone else is using in their content. Compose original music that other musicians aren't doing, and sell online to influencers that need it.

29. Sell Old Gear and Instruments

Are you a music gear hoarder? Maybe you just have some unused instruments or gear sitting around?

Spin it for some cash and get rid of your old music equipment. Amps, guitars, pedalboards, keyboards... if you know you don't need it anymore and someone else can benefit, it can be a good idea to move it on.

30. Become a Music Manager

Know your way around the music industry? Sell your expertise and manage other bands.

I've spoken before about how musicians can get a music manager, but you might find it useful if you are considering taking on music management yourself. There are various roles you can take to help out other bands and musicians from dealing with record labels, working with music companies, managing music publishing, and booking music venues for tours just to name a few.

31. Write Songs For Other Musicians

A lot of musicians are awesome at their instruments but just can't write great songs.

You don't have to just write songs for yourself. The money is in the song, and you could become a songwriter for another artist or band.

Songwriting session

32. Recording Other Bands and Musicians

If you have your own home recording space, you can always sell your local studios space and record people at home.

Having your own home studio set is obviously fantastic for writing and producing your own music, but you can offer your services to other musicians in between working on your own music career.

33. Create Guides and Reviews

A lot of channels do this, from mixing tutorials to guitar reviews.

They are often a good home for affiliate links, sponsorships, and more monetization opportunities. Instruments, music equipment, software, plug-ins, and more. Other musicians are hungry for information before they purchase something and you could be the one to provide that information.

34. Affiliate Music Business Marketing

Going off the back of these guides and reviews, if you have a strong presence online, you could point your audience towards other websites, businesses, or products using affiliate links.

Affiliate links are specific URLs that allow you to earn a commission if someone purchases a product via it.

35. Create A Tribute Act

Are you the spitting image of someone else? Have the voice, look and stage presence of Dave Grohl?

You could create a band as a homage to your likeness and book yourself out as a tribute act. Tribute bands and singers can earn a good living from private parties, corporate events, and more.

36. DJ at Parties and Events

You don't have to actually play music live to get a paid gig.

If your DJ skills are decent, you can get hired to bring the party to all sorts of events and venues.

live dj

37. Create a Niche Service on Fiverr

So Fiverr has a whole category for music and audio. It's honestly a treasure trove of fun.

There's the obvious stuff that we've mostly covered but, you can create something super unique and sell it over and over again. Weird ASMR content, whistling covers, custom Twitch sound alerts, impressions of Toad from Mario, even this one guy will tell you the exact key of a song just by listening to it... just some of the unique services I found after a few minutes of browsing.

Think outside the box, what can you offer?

38. Write Bespoke Songs For Fans

Of course, you want to be putting out music in the public domain, but why not create something unique and sell bespoke songs to your fans?

You could even allow fans to have an input into the creation of the song and request specific styles, lyrical content, or instruments.

39. Mixing Other Musicians Music

If your music mixing skills are decent, you should absolutely consider selling mixing services online to help other musicians.

When trying to get work as a mixing engineer, it can help to niche down into a specific style or genre and become a specialist. For example, a metal producer would have a different skill set and attract a different audience than a rap music producer. You can even use your own releases as an example of what you are capable of.

40. Mastering

Mastering and mixing are two totally different things. This is why I haven't included it in the above mixing segment.

If you can master music effectively, it is a skill that is sought after. Many musicians may already have their song mixed, but can't quite master it properly.

42. Music Grants

Free money for the government sounds too good to be true, doesn't it?

Arts grants are an actual thing. It is worth spending a bit of time looking at what is offered in your country or area in terms of government support for musicians and artists. You never know!

43. Service and Repair Instruments and Gear

If you fancy yourself as a bit of a music tech or guitar tech, you could be the go-to music handyman in your local area.

Connect with local venues and music shops to get yourself ingrained with the local music community, and advertise yourself online as a music repair service.