How to Make Money from Your Music
It’s tough making money as a music artist in the current industry climate, there’s no doubt about that..
First you’ve got to accept the fact that there are a ton of other artists trying to do the same exact thing as you, and I mean a TON. No matter which genre, style, country, age, etc, the market is saturated. Knowing and accepting this fact will help you grow as an artist because you now understand that you simply can’t be the same as everyone else- you’ve got to push the envelope. So let’s look at a few practical ways to make money as a music artist.
Let me just tell you from industry experience, that top music talent makes an unimaginably large amount of money from performing. $1,000,000.000 USD for a performance fee is not out of the question for some of these A-list artists that you see headlining massive music festivals. Now multiply that by the amount of performances they do each year (imagine a tour)- the number is shocking. There’s money in performing, no doubt about it, but the question is how do you get in on that?
You’ve got to build credibility and a good music product. At the end of the day, promoters are paying artists because their music/name sells tickets. You’ve got to make really good music (or really unique music, based on how saturated the market is) and build a community of dedicated followers. You’ve also got to have an incredible performance, one that creates memories for the crowd- so they recommend you to their friends. For DJs this might mean having unique and powerful mixing ability, for bands this could mean incredible group energy on stage. You’ve got to make people want to see you perform- it’s up to you to figure out how to do this, get creative.
Sell your Music/Streams
The music distribution sector isn’t what it used to be- where artists could burn CDs/Tapes and cash in on people buying their music on iTunes. Nowadays with Spotify, Apple Music, etc, the landscape is much different. Plain and simple, music purchasers are a tough market to tap. People who BUY music are either DJs (who need the files to perform) or collectors a.k.a. hardcore supporters that want the audio file for their own personal collection/to support the artist- which means you’ve got to already have a serious following if you expect to make substantial profit.
Streaming music is much more common nowadays for the average listener, but the pay-per-stream rate is so low ($0.006/stream) that many beginning artists are discouraged to even try. You’ve got to have a lot of streams to make any serious money. Some quick maths- in January I received around 89,000 streams on my song Distance plus a few others, which comes out to $534.00 USD. That may seem like a lot, but trust me when I say it has taken several years to get to this point.
Getting listeners of your music also requires extensive promoting, which is a sore subject for some people. There are two ways that I’ve found to be most successful in getting more publicity and streams on my music:
- Releasing music with established labels. By doing so, you are promoting your music to their followers and fans in addition to yours, which could mean a huge influx of listeners/traffic in your direction. My label- StoryTime frequently runs marketing campaigns and collaborates on releases with a variety of electronic music artists. We’re always looking for new artists, so if your music is in the electronic/pop category, feel free to submit it for consideration on our website. We also run a variety of social media promotional campaigns, if that makes more sense for you.
- Getting on streaming playlists. Just like with the label releases, if you get on a Spotify playlist that has a lot of listeners, your music will get more plays- which means more streaming revenue. While some playlist services are free, many require payment or membership for inclusion- that’s just how the business works. Spotlist Player is one service I have used in the past that works well. There are tons of other options online, give it the good ol’ google search.
Make Money from your Brand
As your fan base grows, so will people's interest in you as a person. Think about your favorite musician/band, their music is what got you hooked in the first place (probably) but after some time you’ve grown attached to their character- who they are as a person. That, plus an enormous amount of followers makes them a prime candidate for advertising products/services.
If you’re an extremely famous guitarist, there’s a good chance that Fender will send you a direct message and offer you $10,000 USD to post a picture on your Instagram holding their latest guitar. They know that your fans are looking up to you, so they capitalize on this trust and pay you to tell others to buy their product. I’ve been contacted by (and I’ve reached out to) several product brands for sponsorship opportunities on my Instagram and have been paid in both free products and monetary fees for doing shoutouts. You’ve got to be confident and have good engagement. I wrote an in-depth course on using Instagram as an artist, which you can purchase on my website.
These types of agreements between brands and businesses are called affiliate programs, and there are a ton of them happening every single day. It’s a highly lucrative business model. For more information about the difference between affiliate networks and affiliate programs, as well as where to find them, here’s a separate article I wrote.
Just like this article, you can teach your experiences and lessons to others who are climbing the music career ladder. If you have any proper training as a musician, why not consider enrolling as a teacher at a music school? Or perhaps you love sound design and have created some incredible sample packs- sell them on websites like Fiverr!
Teaching means giving value to others in the form of knowledge and while it certainly can earn you money, it’s also a great way to just help others out. For example, I have a private newsletter where I send valuable music production tips, guestlist giveaways, free DJ edit packs and more. I do it for free because I want to share with others, the lessons I’ve learned.
Earning money as a musician requires creativity, marketing, and a ton of dedication, but the opportunities are there for those people who take it seriously. Music is my passion and one of several projects that earn me an extra $1000 each month in side income. Every day I work on advancing my music career and so must you. Whatever you do, don’t give up.
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