17 Ways For Musicians To Make Money
There are few things more alluring than following your passion. However, using your passion to sustain your career is a whole other story. You simply can’t sugar coat it – making money in the entertainment industry, particularly the music industry, is challenging which leads many to pursue a different path.
However, it’s not impossible, and if you’re willing to adapt to multiple streams of income and put in the work, you can certainly sustain yourself off of making music. Below, we’ll share 17 ways to make money with music and discuss some key principles to keep in mind while pursuing your passion.
Is A Sustainable Career In Music Possible?
Not every musical money-making opportunity will be the right fit for you. It’s also highly likely that you’ll have to take on multiple roles as a musician in order to make ends meet, creating a hybrid career.
It also goes without saying that these highly-coveted jobs are a lot easier to come across if you’ve taken the time to cultivate a fanbase or build your reputation through networking in the industry.
Many of these jobs aren’t necessarily something you’re going to profit from overnight. You’ll still need to give each side or main hustle plenty of attention in order to see it flourish. It’s perfectly fine to work on your music-related ventures while keeping your day job, too – just remember that there are endless ways to become a professional musician.
Despite the challenges, you can certainly make a career in music work as long as you’re putting in consistent effort and willing to roll with the punches that come with working in a creative space.
17 Money-Making Hustles For Musicians
Without further ado, here are 17 different ways for producers and musicians to earn money with their creative talents.
1. Creating Content
Creating entertaining or educating content in any industry can be extremely lucrative if you can cultivate a strong following. You can start to build your career by teaching others your craft on YouTube or Tiktok. While this method can take a while to become monetizable, it also provides plenty of other benefits by helping your earn fans and pin down your digital brand.
2. Streaming Revenue
We know – streaming revenue is a joke. However, it’s important that you have all of the necessary tools to collect your share of earnings. This means having a PRO or performance rights organization like BMI, a distributor like Distrokid, and a publisher like Songtrust as an indie artist.
Some distributors will collect publishing for you, but this isn’t a given – make sure you have all of your boxes checked. If your music blows up one day, you could, unfortunately, miss out on some serious revenue if you haven’t taken care of the logistics ahead of time.
3. Sync Placements
If you’re lucky enough to land a song in a TV show or film, you can start raking in the dough. One of the best ways to quickly earn a sync placement is by applying for a site like Artlist. You can also reach out to independent sync agencies for representation or try your hand at connecting with music supervisors.
You’ve probably thought about this already, but becoming a music teacher can be a great way to sustainably make money through your music. Even if you’re not an instrumentalist, plenty of people could benefit from a music production lesson or even a songwriting course. Becoming a music teacher will also help you hone in on your skills which is a plus!
5. Film Scoring
If you have a knack for classical production, it’s certainly worth considering diving into the world of composition. One of the best ways to start scoring is to reach out to student filmmakers or those just starting out. You may have to complete a couple of scores at a discounted rate, but in time, the connections you make in return will pay for themselves.
Every artist should think about physical ways to expand their brand which usually equates to some sort of merchandise. This could be selling band T-shirts, physical music like records, or making your own stickers. You could also sell something that aligns with your lifestyle aesthetic like iced coffee or some other product. Get creative! As long as it aligns with your fanbase, you don’t necessarily have to sell music to music fans.
7. Make a Beat Store
Do you ever make beats without the intention of professionally releasing them? Thankfully, you can monetize this habit by creating your own beat store. Sites like BeatStars make it easy for you to list your creations as a producer.
8. Production for Sync Libraries
Sync libraries are always searching for quality beats to place in commercials and independent projects. You could produce music or sound effects for sites like Audio Jungle. It can take some time to get one of your songs into these libraries, but once you’re in, it’s a lot easier to keep putting out monetizable beats.
9. Meditation Music
One of the best niche markets to explore is the world of meditation music. There are plenty of YouTube channels and meditation-focused apps that are looking for calming mixes or binaural beats. Plus, this type of music is designed to be simplistic and fairly repetitive, so it’s not a huge production haul in comparison to other paid production jobs.
I’ve personally found a couple of clients for this type of music through freelance sites like Upwork. You can also create a sample meditation track to help pitch your services to independent creators.
10. Create an Airbnb Experience
Whether you’re a songwriter, producer, instrumentalist, or a little bit of both, you can create a unique experience for tourists using something like Airbnb Experiences. For instance, this songwriter and influencer in NYC has created an experience where budding musicians can leave with their own song after an hour of writing together.
You can mold your experience based on your skill set so long as you have a studio or creative space to teach in. This is a great way to help pass the torch to new musicians and support your career simultaneously.
11. Topline Writing
If you’re a skilled songwriter, why not try your hand at writing melodies, lyrics, or a combination of the two for other artists? Those with a strong network may be able to score a writing deal via a label, but you can also turn this into freelance work with something like Fivver.
12. Freelance Production Work
When it comes to music production, the proof is in the pudding. If people like your work, they will pay for it. You can start earning money by producing for other artists and creators. Sometimes, it just takes a couple of clients to get the ball rolling. Soundbetter is an excellent place to start, but you can also cold email potential collaborators with sample beats.
13. Live Audio Consultation
In the age of Zoom meetings, there are plenty of corporations and small businesses that need assistance in setting up their remote audio set up for meetings and conferences. You can certainly market your services directly to local businesses or keep an eye out for these jobs on freelance sites.
14. Building Your Own Sample Packs
Plenty of producers are looking for unique sample packs, so why not build your own? You could easily create a couple of packs to sell on your own website or market them to sample libraries like BPM Create or Splice. Sample packs can consist of just about anything, and you could presumably flip preexisting sessions into a whole host of monetizable sounds.
NFTs can be just about anything and provide a great way for artists to earn some extra cash. You can mint your cover art, exclusive versions of your song, or even grow your web3 music following on platforms like Audius.
Big name acts have already started listing their works on NFT music marketplaces like Mint Songs, Catalog, or SoundXyz. SoundXyz has made artists over 250K and Catalog has generated artists $1.8 million dollars thus far. The sky is the limit with Web3, so don’t miss out on these monetizable opportunities!
16. Build An Exclusive Club For Your Fanbase
Harping on NFTs, the future of music is all about artists taking more ownership over their fanbase. You can offer exclusive songs, behind-the-scenes footage, early merch access, anything really, at a premium to your most dedicated fans. Sites like Patreon allow you to set up different payment tiers for fans in exchange for exclusive content.
17. Creating A Course
If you have somewhat of a following, you can create a production, songwriting, or instrument course based on your skillset. You can host these course packages on your own website or through a larger site like Udemy. Hence, there are plenty of ways for musicians to make money if you're willing to put in the time and effort. Enjoy making money with your music!