The future of music

How to Make Money from Music: Easy Guide

December 29, 2023
how to make money from music

We’re not going to lie – making money from music is challenging.

But it’s definitely not impossible.

So if you want to learn how to make money from music, you’ve come to the right place.

We will quickly take you through all the best options everyone has at their disposal.

And you’ll just have to find a way that suits you best.

Best Ways to Make Money from Music 

If you want to start a career in music, you’re probably wondering how musicians make money and where the majority of an artist’s revenue comes from.

Well, if the artist works with a record label, they get money from music sales.

But they also pay a share of their money to others involved, such as managers, agents, promoters, PR teams, and so on.

It all depends on what kind of deal you signed.

But generally, you can profit with a record label in many ways, including:

  • Music sales
  • Music performances
  • Master licensing 
Music albums in a record shop.

However, many artists decide to distribute their music independently.

After all, it’s not so easy to get a record deal – you first need to create good tracks, find an audience, gain some experience…

Nevertheless, independent artists can make money from their music too.

In fact, it has probably never been easier to earn money as an indie artist.

But that also comes with certain challenges.

For instance, it’s hard to get yourself noticed in an oversaturated music industry.

There are so many artists trying to do the same thing.

That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try, of course, but it can make things a bit difficult, especially when it comes to getting streams on Spotify and similar platforms.

As an aspiring musician, it’s important for you to stand out, and that’s why it’s also crucial to utilize effective music marketing strategies.

But ultimately, you need to find a way to start earning money from music that works for you

And that’s why we’re here – to show you the most common and viable ways to earn money from music. 

And then you’ll be able to make an informed decision and start working towards achieving your goals.

1. Streaming Royalties 

Making money from streaming royalties is arguably the most common and popular way of earning money as a musician.

Generally, music royalties are the payments generated from the usage of your songs.

They are generated by having your music available on music streaming and social media platforms like Spotify and Apple Music.

But if you want to start earning money through music royalties, you first need to distribute your music on large streaming platforms.

And that can be a bit tricky for indie artists – the part of finding listeners, at least.

Earphones and cellphones listening to Spotify.

As an aspiring musician, you need to put a lot of effort into promoting your music.

That’s the only way to grow your audience and get enough organic streams.

One of the ways to get more streams is to reach out to playlist curators who can put your song on relevant playlists.

Alternatively, you can contact a music promotion service.

Many music promotion companies help their artists to get more Spotify streams as well as gain more exposure in general.

But you should be careful when choosing a promotion service as some of them take all the royalties from their artists.

2. Music Publishing

Another common source of income for independent musicians is through music publishing royalties.

This is also hands down one of the most lucrative revenue streams for artists. 

In essence, music publishing is the business of promotion and monetization of musical compositions.

And a music publisher works on behalf of artists (songwriters or composers) to collect and pay out all of the royalties they earn from the music they write.

Music publishing might be a bit tricky to understand, mainly because it requires you to understand how music copyright works.

In a way, music publishing is the exploitation of a song’s composition copyright.

But this can be a good thing for you because it allows you to earn money.

There are two main ways to earn money through music publishing royalties:

  • Mechanical royalties – money you earn when your song is streamed, downloaded, or reproduced as CD/vinyl 
  • Performance royalties – money you make when your song is played on the radio/TV, in a venue, live on stage, or at any other public place

There are a number of organizations that collect music royalty payments on behalf of their members – they are called royalty collection societies.

Royalty collection and management can be a bit confusing for newcomers, so make sure you find the most convenient way to do it.

3. Live Shows

Another popular way of earning money from music is, of course, touring.

If you want to succeed as a musician, live shows should be your priority.

You can earn money through live music and shows primarily from:

  • Ticket sales
  • On-the-door fees
  • Payment from the organizer/venue 

If you perform your own songs, you can also claim live performance royalties.

All in all, regular gigs can bring you a lot of money, especially when you gain some experience and grow your audience.

In the beginning, you’ll probably play at smaller festivals and venues.

But eventually, if you’re persistent, you’ll get to perform on a big stage – and that’s when you’ll be able to generate some serious money. 

4. Selling Merch

Playing gigs and live shows is a great way to utilize another way of making money from your music – selling merchandise.

This is, in fact, a good way to subsidize concert travel expenses, venue hire, or other concert-related expenses.

hanger rack with hanged clothes

Of course, you can also put a merch shop on your website and sell merch online.

Musicians usually sell shirts, badges, tote bags, posters, and mugs.

But you can also think about other creative products – whatever sparks your interest.

However, you should invest in the merchandise once you’ve started building your fan base.

Until then, you can make a small number of products that don’t require spending a lot of money.

5. Music Sales

Although we live in a digital age of streaming platforms, don’t forget about physical music sales.

Many people still buy CDs, and you can make a substantial amount of money by selling them.

CDs are also relatively cheap to make, and you can easily bring them on shows and present them as a part of your merch shop.

And don’t forget to include vinyl copies too – vinyl made quite a comeback in recent years.

You can even sell CDs while busking; that’s generally a great way to promote your music and earn a couple of bucks on the side.

6. Sync Licensing

However, if you’re thinking about more lucrative revenue, you should learn more about sync licensing. 

Sync licensing includes music that is used in movies, TV shows, commercials, video games, music videos, vlogs, podcasts, audiobooks, and so on.

So, a sync license gives a brand or company the right to use your music in their content. 

And synchronization fees are what you’re going to earn as an owner of that piece of music.

Many libraries offer upfront sync payments to music producers and artists, and this can range from hundreds to thousands of dollars.

That said, sync licensing is definitely one of the most profitable ways to monetize your songs.

It takes a while to get a grasp of how everything works, but once you do, you can start earning money without actually doing anything.

You’ll have to produce a good track though – but that’s the prerequisite for every way of making money as a musician.

7. Sponsorships

Another profitable way of earning money without any effort (except in the beginning) is to find sponsorships.

Of course, getting a good sponsorship is not so easy.

And you’ll have to build a fan base first.

But you can start with smaller sponsorships and brand partnerships. 

As you grow your audience, you’ll be able to make a deal with big brands and companies.

These partnerships usually come in the form of posts on social media, live shows, YouTube content, and so on.

Since you’ll have to help them boost their visibility, you should consider promoting a brand that aligns with your own musical brand or personal values.

Although it’s appealing to get sponsored by a big brand, you should make sure they’re the right fit for you and your music.

8. Membership Subscription Services

Many aspiring singers and musicians opt for membership subscription services.

For instance, you should consider creating a Patreon account, especially if you’ve already started building a fan base or gaining followers on social media. 

Patreon is a membership platform that allows creators to run a subscription content service.

So basically, your patrons will subscribe to your account for a fee in exchange for exclusive content.

lady sitting on the couch while using laptop

On Patreon, you can share news about new releases and tours, but you can also share more personalized content through live chats and vlogs.

Either way, having a Patreon account is also a nice way to connect with your fans.

9. Creating Music for Music Libraries 

Many artists who want to earn extra money decide to write for music libraries. 

A music library is a curated collection of materials (musical scores, audio recordings, etc) that are only available for licensed and private use. 

Such libraries are generally made for ad agencies, indie filmmakers, YouTubers, and other businesses with a license. 

If you write music for music libraries, you’ll get paid through performance royalties.

Now, the industry standard is that composers and libraries split the royalties 50/50. 

But there are some other things you need to factor in.

Nevertheless, getting your songs in music libraries might not be a bad idea, especially if you’re looking for an easy way to earn money through performance royalties. 

10. Freelancing

Finally, you can make money from music by trying your luck as a freelancer.

Freelancing in music can involve many things.

For starters, you can earn money by giving music lessons.

There are many online freelancing websites you can check out, including Upwork, Fiverr, Udemy, and so on. 

Before signing up for a freelancing platform, think about your strengths and skills – maybe you’re an amazing singer, or you have excellent songwriting skills.

And maybe you can offer audio mixing and mastering services.

Either way, teaching and offering music-related services online is certainly a good way to earn an extra buck.

And you never know where that’s going to take you – maybe someone will hire you permanently, or you’ll come across someone from the music industry who wants to collaborate with you on a bigger project.

All in all, freelancing is exciting and versatile, and you should definitely see what it has to offer. 

Tips on How to Make Money From Music 

It’s true – finding new ways to make money from music can be quite exciting.

You should think about branching out and offering online services based on your skills and experience.

And you should always keep an eye out for new opportunities.

However, it’s easy to get carried away.

With digital tools, streaming platforms, and freelancing websites, earning money from music may seem easy.

But that’s not always the case.

One thing is for sure – you have to be patient and persistent.

Selling your music and earning a living as a musician depends on many things.

And if you want to stand out from the crowd, you’ll have to think about music marketing strategies, collaborations with other artists, music promotion, and so on.

mic stand with headphones

Whether you want to produce music or get discovered as a singer, there’s a long way to go before you start earning real money.

On the other hand, you shouldn’t get discouraged if someone tells you how hard it is to be a musician.

Everyone has to start somewhere.

And until you start earning money from your music, think about the ways you can become a better musician, such as:

  • Taking singing lessons
  • Learning how to play an instrument
  • Learning basic music theory
  • Learning about music production

Improving your skills and expanding your knowledge will ultimately make you a better musician.

And if you make good music, there’s a higher chance you’ll start making money from it.

That said, you should always think about new ways to improve yourself as an artist.

And don’t forget to meet fellow artists and other people from the music industry.

The music industry is a very network-oriented world, so don’t underestimate the power of good connections.

After all, meeting new people will help you gain valuable knowledge, but it will also bring you new opportunities.

And since success is when opportunity meets preparation, forming industry connections will certainly help you out.

However, the most important thing is not to give up – success rarely happens overnight.

How to Make Money From Music – Final Thoughts 

If you want to earn money from your music, you’ll have to be patient and persistent.

But making money from music is definitely achievable.

You can make money from streaming royalties, sync licensing, physical music sales, and merch sales.

But you should also consider alternative ways such as brand partnerships, membership subscription services, freelancing options, and so on.

Either way, the bigger fan base you have, the easier it gets your well-earned payment. 

That said, focus on the quality of your music and your performance, and everything else will eventually fall into place. 

You may also like: Ways to Promote Your Music

Will Fenton

Will, the founder of MIDDER, is a multifaceted individual with a deep passion for music and personal finance. As a self-proclaimed music and personal finance geek, he has a keen eye for futuristic technologies, especially those that empower creators and the public.

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