So, you’ve decided to be an “at home” musician.
While no musician should ever be locked in a room for eternity (unless they absolutely have no choice), there are many reasons why you might want to pursue a career from home.
Your mobility might be limited (because of your body or the lack of a car). You might do some of your best work from home (i.e. songwriting or music production). You may not enjoy having to drive from one place to another, or have reasons why this is difficult for you (such as agoraphobia). It could even be that you can make more money from home than anywhere else.
The good news is being an at home musician has never been more viable. There are plenty of ways to make money without having to leave your home.
What it comes down to is your ability to remain focused and disciplined in your pursuits. Here are numerous money making strategies for the at home musician.
1. Publish Your Music (More Often)
The first and most obvious way to start earning more from home is to record and publish more music. The more you publish, the more opportunities you’ll ultimately create for yourself.
This doesn’t mean you should put poor quality content out into the world. But if you’re in your home studio making beats and recording tracks already, then you should have plenty of time to perfect your craft and create more music.
Utilize a service like DistroKid to distribute your music, and push yourself to publish more. Since they only charge a one-time annual fee to distribute as much music as you want, it’s a convenient solution for the prolific musician.
You can then begin to collect digital sales and streaming royalties, which may not add up to much at first, but can definitely grow over time.
2. Get Your Music Licensed
Licensing and placement opportunities is something we’ve covered in detail in other guides. But it is worth mentioning in case you haven’t heard about it, or you don’t know how it works.
The short version is that you can get your music placed in visual media – TV, movies, video games, and so on – and then earn royalties on the music that is used.
Although getting out there and networking is a good way to find opportunities, there is one advantage to being an at home musician – you can spend most of your time making music and watching for opportunities on sites like ReverbNation, Sonicbids, Broadjam, and so forth.
Some artists earn great money from licensing and placement opportunities, making it a great way to monetize your music, even if it is a bit competitive.
3. Live Stream Concerts
Just because you aren’t actively booking shows at venues doesn’t mean you couldn’t be earning money putting on concerts from the comfort of your home. Some artists like Daria Musk have done quite well for themselves with this.
As far as tools go, there are plenty available – Concert Window, Facebook Live, Periscope, and others. Try experimenting with different ones and see what works. Some may help you earn tips. Some may help you drive digital and physical sales. And some may lead to other opportunities. You won’t know unless you try.
If you’re going to be live streaming regularly, it’s worth getting the right gear. You may need a good camera, proper lighting, microphones, and so on. You can always upgrade as you’re able.
4. Monetize Your YouTube Channel
You know that you can make money on your original content, don’t you?
With the YouTube Partner Program, you can start earning money from placing advertisements on your videos. Granted, you won’t make a lot until you build a huge following. But some content creators spend all their time on YouTube videos and little else, so that should tell you it’s a viable opportunity.
You can also encourage your fans to use your music in their videos. Your music distributor should start placing ads on those videos to help you collect additional royalties.
You can also monetize your YouTube channel by:
- Sending people to your website to donate or buy your merch.
- Promoting affiliate/sponsor products (many popular YouTube content creators earn commissions by promoting sites like Crunchyroll, Audible, Loot Crate, and so on).
- Create an account with Patreon and get your subscribers and followers to micro-fund your content.
5. Put A PayPal Tip Jar On Your Website
Ask for tips from your fans by putting a donation button on your website. Some artists struggle with asking for what they need, even when it comes to crowdfunding. If there’s anything I’ve learned, it’s that you never get what you don’t ask for. This doesn’t mean you’re guaranteed to get something if you ask for it, but you simply won’t know unless you try.
Setting up a PayPal button on your website is easy to do. First, log in to PayPal. Roll over “Tools” and then click on “All Tools.” Scroll down until you see PayPal buttons, and click on it. Click on “Create new button”, and choose the “Donations” button type from the dropdown menu. The rest should be relatively self-explanatory.
Once the button is on your website, you never have to take it down. You can leave the button there and allow your fans to support you perpetually.
Should you blog as a musician? This is a bit of a contentious issue.
Practically speaking, you should not blog if you cannot sustain it. But if you’re an at home musician, not only should you have the time, it could prove immensely beneficial to your career because it gives you a way to communicate regularly with your fans.
But I hear you asking: How do I monetize my blog? It’s relatively simple all things considered, and it can work in tandem with many of the strategies already described.
You can place ads on your blog. You can promote affiliate offers. And if you have a donation button and a store on your site, some people will discover what you have to offer through your blog.
If you want to make money blogging, you must be strategic. Most people aren’t. That’s why they’re confused around how anyone makes money blogging.
7. Take On Session Work
Are you a particularly skilled musician? If so, you may be able to sell your skills to certain artists, bands, producers, or engineers.
This will require some dedication on your part. Most studios and producers already have “go-to” people in place. Unless they’re looking for something specific their current roster of players can’t offer, they’re not going to go looking too far outside of their immediate circle for help.
First, you’ll want to establish yourself within a niche as a player or vocalist. Then, you’ll want to create connections. Don’t be afraid to get on the phone, as this is still one of the most personal forms of communication outside of meeting in person.
8. Create Loops & Samples
Have you ever heard of Outro? I didn’t know much about them until they personally reached out to me a while back.
In their own words, Outro is a global “music production marketplace” where people can buy and sell loops and samples, and collaborate with other producers.
Since visual content is now being produced at a dizzying rate, a lot of people need music to complement their videos, short films, movies, and so forth. An awesome loop or sample might just be what they need.
By creating loops and samples to Outro, and other sites like it (Splice, Loopmasters, Prime Loops, and so on), you could start earning a bit of money from your beats.
9. Join HITRECORD & Submit Content
Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s HITRECORD is a community where artists can contribute to various productions. If the content you create gets used in a production, you can get paid for it.
I would look at this as a sideline if anything, because there are no guarantees your music will get used. But if you have content you think would fit a specific production, it’s worth submitting.
10. Create Mixes For YouTube
This is a huge opportunity, and I would have never realized it unless I did a bit of deep digging.
The short version is this – there is potential to make huge money creating YouTube mixes.
What do I mean by mixes? I mean mixes entirely comprised of a single genre: Progressive house, trance, jazz, funk, rock, and so forth. These videos get a huge number of views.
The Grand Sound channel, for instance, has a video with over six million views. That video alone helps them earn an estimated $1,000 per month!
And, these types of channels are constantly uploading new mixes because they know how profitable it can be.
Finding content can be the tricky part. And, unless you’re particularly prolific as an artist, it would be extremely challenging to just throw together a great mix on a weekly basis. Still, this is an opportunity you should be aware of if you’re an at home musician.
11. Start A Fan Club Or Membership Site
Depending on your focus, starting a fan club might not make much sense. But let’s say you’re an at home recording artist with a lot of music to your name. It would make a lot of sense to promote your music through your website.
Why not start a fan club or membership site your biggest fans can sign up for? Charge a small monthly fee for access to extra content, whether audio, video, photos, or anything else your fans would love.
A fan club will require commitment on your part, since you’ll need to upload new content for your fans on a weekly basis. But since you’re at home anyway, you should have plenty of time and energy to make it happen.
12. Create eBooks Or Training Courses
People are looking to learn about a variety of topics. If you don’t believe me, just look at a site like Udemy. You can find courses on every subject imaginable.
If you’re an expert in a specific area – even if it’s not music – you may be able to supplement your income by selling educational eBooks or courses.
If you feel motivated enough to tap into people’s insatiable desire for knowledge, and you can create great content people need, this might be an avenue worth exploring.
13. Get Creative & Think Outside The Box
Maybe the only thing you want to do is write songs. Maybe you’d prefer to just make beats. Or, your hands might be full producing weekly video content for YouTube already. It’s not a bad thing to have a central focus to the work you do.
But income sources aren’t always dependable or predictable, especially when you’re self-employed. And, if you don’t have backup revenue streams, what happens when someone like YouTube pulls the plug on the Partner Program? I’m not saying that’s what’s going to happen, but it has happened before Just think of Vine.
So, whether you’re uncomfortable with the idea of losing a great revenue stream or you’re just looking for different ways to supplement your existing income, don’t be afraid to explore: Online marketing concepts, advertising and affiliate opportunities, sponsorships, business or investment ventures, and the like.
I’m not saying any one of these opportunities will be a good fit for you, but thinking outside the box may help you uncover or even create a niche that’s more suited to you than anything else that’s already out there.
The above is still just the tip of the iceberg. The internet has created a near endless supply of opportunities for artists. If you’re just willing to explore, experiment, and execute, it’s likely you will come across projects that light your fire.
If you’re working from home, learn to utilize your time well. Create a routine for yourself, and be disciplined with it. If you’re not constantly having to drive from one location to another, and you don’t have a lot of distractions at home, you should have all the space and time in the world to do what you need to do. Beware of wasting that opportunity.