For every musician, the road from a beginner to a star is always long and full of challenges. And during this journey, they need money for meeting their daily needs as well as buying stuff essential for their chosen careers as musicians.
If you’re one such budding musician, continue reading. Because I’ll be discussing 20 best and topmost ways that you can make money as a musician.
20 Ways for Making Money as a Musicians
Broadly speaking, there’re two kinds of artists or musicians. One is the vocalist or one that uses their voice to render songs. The other play some musical instrument. You could be any of these musicians.
And if you’re looking at making money before you become a top music star that earns millions of Dollars, here’re 20 superb ways to do so.
1. Open a Music Blog
The first and possibly the best way for any aspiring musician to make money is open a music blog. In fact, a superb blog is an excellent resource for self-branding. You can get a lot of followers by writing interesting and engaging content that people would love reading.
You can write about music itself and other top musicians that’re trending. Generally, blogs on music get a huge following.
There’re three excellent ways for making money as a musician from your music blog. One is by subscribing to Google AdSense. This means, you’ll give permission to Google to display ads on your blogsite. And whenever someone clicks on these ads, you make some money.
The second is by affiliate marketing or selling products for others to get commissions. The third is accepting sponsored posts on your blogsite. You can also accept paid ads.
2. Create and Sell Own Merchandise
Most musicians create and sell their own merchandise. The main buyers are their fans. Some of the merchandise you could create are posters, mugs, T-shirts, mobile covers and bags, among other things.
Order only a moderate quantity of merchandise because often, it’s difficult to find customers, unless you’ve a very popular star that has a following around the world.
You can sell such merchandise through a Facebook fan page or own blog or website and other social media platforms such as Pinterest and Instagram.
You can also sell them through your YouTube channel. To get the money, you could use PayPal or any other top payments system that would deposit the money directly to your bank account.
3. Open YouTube Channel
Speaking of YouTube, you can open own channels and earn money. I mention channels because you can open two channels- a free one and another, paid premium one. Opening a YouTube channel is also a superb way of self-branding.
You can gain followers and fans from across the globe for your music. And it’s easy to monetize your free and premium channels too.
One of the best ways to monetize your free channel is by subscribing to Google AdSense, which will display ads before, after and during your videos to viewers.
Watching the ad fetches you some money. And you can offer subscriptions to your premium YouTube channel. That way, you have two sources of income from your YouTube channels.
4. Sell CDs and DVDs
If you believed that CDs and DVDs are now defunct, think again. Millions of people around the world and in America continue buying their favorite music on CDs and DVDs, especially if the music is with videos.
You can sell these CDs and DVDs online or through music stores. Or you can offer them through own website and blog too.
However, you’ll need to spend some money on getting these CDs and DVDs made from some good recording company. That’s because your customers will expect superior quality stuff, complete with the casing and covers.
Selling CDs and DVDs can be a really big business if you’re a superb musician. They could take you towards stardom.
5. Give Music Lessons
If you’re good at playing a musical instrument, it’s possible to give music lessons and for making money as a musician.
You have two options: one is holding online classes, which are very popular nowadays as we’re living in the new normal following the Covid-19 pandemic. The other is holding music classes at your home or another venue.
A lot of teenagers that aspire to be musicians take lessons. All you need to do is advertise your lessons through your blog or website. You can also post advertisements on websites such as Craigslist to get learners from your area.
And don’t forget Facebook Marketplace, where you can advertise your music lessons for free. Provide an online payments gateway where students can send you money for these classes.
6. Make Money Streaming Music
You can make money by streaming music over some very popular platforms. These include Spotify, Amazon Music, and Apple Music, to name a few.
Even the biggest artists in the world stream their music live or recordings through these platforms. You can get royalties for these streams.
You can also consider streaming services such as Landr, Amuse, CD Baby, and TuneCore, among others.
All these streaming services have some pros and cons. Therefore, I suggest you read their terms and conditions first. Generally, your royalties will be collected by a distribution company, which in turn pays a portion to you.
7. Play Side Gigs
There’re lots of ways for making money as a musician by playing side gigs. One of them is by accompanying famous bands and playing some instruments in the background during their live concerts.
You would also have to tune their equipment where necessary and to the satisfaction of the main player. This is actually a superb way for making money as a musician because it also helps you come closer to bigger names in the music industry.
Playing side gigs is possible if you ask some recording company. Usually, they’ll have names of some artists and bands for whom they’ve done recordings. They can easily refer you. Or you can approach these bands directly.
However, it’s important to know the genre of music they’re playing. Because the way you play an instrument has to match their genre too.
8. Hold Charity Concerts
You can hold charity concerts for a noble cause and yet make some money. Actually, it’s very easy to hold charity concerts.
You can form a group of musicians and approach a community or religious shrine and ask them to organize a concert because you’ll be raising funds for their causes.
They will manage all the logistical works such as selecting the venue and selling tickets.
However, in such cases, you can charge only a small amount of money as your and your group’s fees for the performance. These would generally be paid to cover your overhead expenses in performing for the concert.
Yet, this is one way to become a popular musician in your area. It can put you on the highway to become a local star.
9. Sell Music Downloads
There’re lots of musicians that allow others to download select numbers or an entire album on smartphones and computers. Some charge as low as $1 per song while others charge up to $5, depending on their popularity and genre.
This system works wonderfully if you have several albums. Because your fans can pick and choose which songs they want and download accordingly.
Generally, musicians offer such downloads from their own websites and blogs.
These songs and music are generally provided in MP3 and MP4 formats since it’s easier to download and store them on mobile devices of removable drives such as a memory card, pen drive, or external hard disk. And since you’re allowing fans to choose what they want, you can get several buyers for your music.
10. Perform at Hotels and Restaurants
Budding musicians can make a lot of money by playing live at hotels and restaurants. You’ll come across some restaurants and hotels that feature live music shows.
For example, some have a pianist that performs during lunch hours and a full band at the bar during the evenings. Some have solo performers while others opt for groups.
If you know of any hotels and restaurants in your area that have such live shows, approach them. Often, there are managers that handle such live shows.
You can talk with them about the prospect of playing music at their hotels and restaurants. You will have to sign a contract to play for a week or a month with these hotels or restaurants. And they pay well too.
11. Sell Your Beats and Samples
Beats and samples are useful for music producers. However, you’ll have to play these beats and record them for a long. This has two major benefits and helps you make some money on the side.
The first advantage is that music producers that buy your beats and samples can put you directly in the big league of musicians if they like your beats.
Secondly, you don’t have to spend anything to record such beats and samples. You can simply record them on a hard drive of a computer and sell them directly through your website or blog.
That means your cost of production is almost zero. However, to sell such beats, you must have studio-quality recordings. That’s because a producer will buy your beats only when they’re superior and match technical quality.
12. Create Unique Ringtones
Nowadays, people love to have unique ringtones for their mobile phones. As a musician, you can make and sell unique ringtones.
These can be made with the instrument you play or instrumental versions of your popular songs if you’re a vocalist. You can sell these unique ringtones through various websites that provide the service at a fee.
Generally, ringtones work on a subscription basis. That means, if someone wants to continue using your ringtones, they’ve got to either pay for a month, three or six months or even a year.
You get a part of this subscription amount for your copyrights over the ringtone. However, your ringtone should be very unique and something that people would love to have on their phones.
13. Perform in Foreign Countries
Often, American performers and musicians get a lot of following in foreign countries. These include Asian countries such as India, China, Thailand, UAE and the Philippines, among others. Contact hotels and restaurants or other places that have live entertainment.
And send them samples of your music for them to watch and listen to. Here I suggest you have such samples made from some recording studio since they will be of superior quality.
Often, hotels, resorts, and restaurants love to host foreign artists to perform at their place. You will get a lot of money for these performances. Additionally, they’ll also pay for your stay and food.
This is also an ideal way to make a mark as a musician in a foreign country and get a large following there. In fact, several top names in today’s music began as small players at hotels and restaurants in different countries before becoming famous in America.
14. Play at Events
Approach event management companies. They often require musicians to regale visitors to various events. This means, you might have to perform at the venue of some large exhibition or conference, during their breaks and ceremonies.
This is yet another fantastic way for making money as a musician and gets famous too.
Normally, the event management company will publicize your name as the entertainer on the website for the event and on posters and banners.
This gives you a lot of superb free publicity. And of course, the opportunity for visitors to view your musical skills first hand. This is also one of the ways to attaining stardom.
15. Sell Vinyl
Contrary to popular belief, vinyl records aren’t yet defunct or gone out of use. In fact, millions of people worldwide prefer to use vinyl records for listening to music.
Over the last couple of years, the sales of vinyl have risen by some 34 percent compared to CDs and DVDs. That’s because countless people continue using record players that can play vinyl.
At the same time, vinyl records are pricier than modern-day CDs and DVDs. This means, you can earn more royalties by creating and selling vinyl with some top recording firms such as RCA, among others.
And nowadays, vinyl also provides stereo sound, though it’s an analogue form of music.
16. Sign Up for Digital Distribution
Digital distributors are companies that will showcase and sell your music on different platforms for various needs. For example, if any content creator requires your music for social media posts, they’ve to buy it from a digital distributor.
The same holds true for streaming companies and platforms. Digital distributors can also help sell your music on various platforms and fetch you superb royalties.
The best way to sell music this way is to find out some of the leading digital distributors. They can also help you find recording companies that would have an interest in making CDs and DVDs for your music and sell them.
Actually, as a budding musician, it’s best to have a digital distributor because they can help you for making money as a musician.
17. Work as DJ
As a musician, you can also work as a DJ at various places. That’s because you would know what kind of music to play to regale listeners and especially those wanting to dance. This can be a regular job if you know how to keep dancers on the floor with your music.
Generally, discotheques and entertainment facilities require DJs on long-term contracts. Event management companies also need DJs for various events.
You can decide where you would like to work as a DJ. As a musician, it’s possible to find freelance work as a DJ from websites such as Upwork and FlexJobs.com among others.
18. Work for a Music Radio Station
As a musician, it’s possible to work as a DJ for a radio station that plays only music. That’s because you’ll know what people love to listen and especially the latest hits.
Alternatively, you can also start a community radio station and get money from local businesses for advertising on your programs.
Setting up your own community radio station isn’t all that expensive. You could raise funds from the community where you reside to buy the transmitter, antenna, and other gear. In return, you would have to broadcast some things that your funders require.
19. Work for a Music Channel
There’re several music channels that are telecast in America and also abroad. They require DJs to add that zing to their shows. Working with such music channels provides a steady source of income. And usually, music channels pay well to musicians that work as DJs.
Again, here too you’ll require superb knowledge about the latest hits and what people love to listen to and play accordingly. You would also have to advertise some products on behalf of program sponsors.
20. Collect Crowdfunds
Over the years, crowdfunding has become a major source of getting money for musicians. And you can try this too. This is an amazing way to get money to finance your new albums and marketing them.
At the same time, you’ve to be careful not to use the money for other purposes that aren’t directly related to your music and its production.
Generally, crowdfunding platforms will run a campaign for you only if you’ve got some reputation on the music scene. And never use the money for personal purposes that you get from crowdfunding.
You might have to give away complimentary copies of your album to some of the major crowdfunders.
Making money as a musician can prove fairly difficult if you’re a fresher in this field. Therefore, I’ve also included some ideas on how to make money as a musician, though they’re beginners.
If you have some reputation as a musician, things can be a bit easier. However, these ideas could help you. Usually, most musicians try and make money from their shows.
However, that’s not always possible because people won’t attend a concert if they haven’t heard about the performer earlier.
In such cases, you can use some of the ideas for making money as a musician that’ll also help you do self-branding. Above all, never lose hope because sometimes, making money as a musician can be a bit difficult too.