Musicians often face financial challenges, with traditional revenue sources like song sales and tours no longer sufficient to sustain a career. In today’s landscape, musicians must explore various avenues to support themselves financially, leveraging both traditional and innovative methods.
16 Ways a Musician Can Make a Living
1. CD Distribution
Bringing along CDs to your live gigs allows fans to take home tangible mementos, which can be signed by band members for added value.
2. Vinyl Sales
With a 30% increase in vinyl sales noted in 2013, it’s wise to have a small quantity on hand for live performances to capitalize on this trend and boost revenue.
3. Internet Sales
Selling your music directly on your website or through online platforms remains a viable option for increasing revenue, although keep in mind that these platforms typically take a percentage of sales (e.g., iTunes 30%, Bandcamp 15%).
While payments from streaming services may seem modest initially, they can accumulate over time and help attract new listeners to your music, offering more than just monetary benefits.
5. Live Performances
Concerts continue to be the most lucrative way for musicians to earn income, providing opportunities to showcase talent and connect with fans directly.
6. Selling Band Memorabilia
The revenue generated from selling band merchandise, such as t-shirts and other memorabilia, is directly linked to the frequency of performances. Consider offering these items to fans as souvenirs after your shows, especially when touring.
7. Digital Content
Offer digital products like beautifully designed PDFs containing your biography and lyrics, live performance videos, sheet music, chord charts, unique images, and more to your audience.
Launching a successful crowdfunding campaign can be a great way to finance album development and marketing expenses.
9. Music Usage Compensation
Joining lobbying groups allows you to earn royalties whenever your music is used on platforms such as radio, TV, live events, streaming services, ads, movies, and more.
10. Digital Payments
Internet radio stations are required to pay royalties when they air your music.
If your music is used in a movie, commercial, or television program, you will likely be compensated for a license. The revenue depends on the project’s budget and how much they want to use your music.
YouTube is the 12th most visited website on the Internet. When your music is used in a YouTube video, the owners of the song can get a cut of the money made from ads.
Large corporations may sponsor you to promote their products or services to your fanbase, offering monetary support or free goods/services.
13. Working as a Session Musician
Offer your services as a session musician to perform in studio recordings for various musical projects or advertisements.
Explore opportunities to write songs for other artists or compose music for films and television shows.
15. Performing Other People’s Music
Performing cover songs at venues like bars, restaurants, and weddings can be a lucrative source of income, even though some musicians may frown upon it. Remember, earning money doing what you love is nothing to be ashamed of.
16. Music Lessons
Many artists provide music lessons to supplement their income.
Test It Out and Determine What Works
- These resources allow you to make more money.
- Try everything and determine what works best.