Are you looking to turn your passion for music production into a full-time job?
Well, you’ve come to the right place!
Many musicians and producers look down upon doing things for money, but the fact is, if you want to sustain your passion, you need to make money.
Here are five ways you can make money as a music producer and how to get started with each of them.
The most common way music producers make money is from royalties.
Basically, when someone streams or downloads the music you helped create, you get paid based on your share of ownership with the music and recordings.
There are different types of royalties you can earn from recordings as a producer:
Mechanical royalties are royalties earned on the sale of recordings that are reproduced from a copyrighted work. This would be your share of earnings from CD or vinyl sales, download sales, or streaming revenue if you helped write the piece of music . Basically, with mechanical royalties, you get a share of the revenue earned from the sale of recorded music that you helped write.
Performance royalties are royalties earned when your music is played during live performances, on the radio, on TV, or in businesses like restaurants or bars.
How To Make Money With Mechanical Royalties
To collect mechanical royalties from music sales as a music producer, things get a little complicated.
When the song is submitted for copyright registration, make sure you’re listed as a songwriter. Music streaming services like Spotify and Apple Music use information obtained from the U.S. copyright office to pay mechanical royalties out directly to songwriters.
For CD sales, downloads, and most other royalties connected from music sales, you need to collect payment directly from the artist or record label you’re working with on the recording because they’re going to be handling the distribution of revenues.
Unfortunately, in many cases, this means you’ll need to trust that the label or artist is paying you fairly.
How To Make Money With Performance Royalties
Performance royalties are a little more straightforward.
All you need to do to collect performance royalties is register with a Performance Rights Organization (PRO).
In the United States, the PROs are BMI, ASCAP, SESAC and SoundExchange.
BMI, ASCAP, and SESAC collect public performance royalties on behalf of songwriters and producers from live music venues, radio stations, restaurants, bars and other music users to then distribute to the creators of the music.
SoundExchange is the PRO that collects digital public performance royalties. This includes non-interactive streaming services like Pandora or Sirius XM and interactive streaming services like Spotify and Apple Music.
The license fees paid to SoundExchange are passed on to the copyright owners of the sound recording (master) as follows:
- The record label – 50%.
- The featured artist – 45%.
- Non-featured artists in the song (background vocalist, session musicians, etc.) – 5%.
To maximize your royalty payout, you need to register with BMI, ASCAP, or SESAC – to collect your standard public performance royalties – and SoundExchange – to collect your digital public performance royalties.
2. Sync Licensing
As a music producer, another way you can earn money is through music placements in visual media such as movies, TV shows or video games.
This is known as synchronization.
This can be a valuable source of income if you can work fast and come up with creative ideas on tight deadlines.
How To Make Money With Sync Licensing
So, how do you make money from sync licensing?
First, it’s important to understand that the tracks that you’ll be licensing in these sync deals won’t be the same as the ones you’ll be distributing or sending to radio stations.
Most often, these pieces of music are customized to the request. For example, you may need to produce a piece of music to fit some video content.
Most music supervisors (those who shop for music on behalf of the client) use music libraries to search for ready-made music to purchase.
Here are some online libraries for you to check out:
Before you reach out to these libraries to submit your music, make sure you have a sample of high-quality recordings to show them.
If you’ve released music on a record label before, make sure to let them know. This gives them the impression that you’re an established producer.
3. Sample Packs
The use of royalty free samples has become a staple in hip-hop and EDM music. Producers everywhere are always looking for new samples for the songs they’re working on.
Sometimes, these producers are willing to pay to get the best quality.
If you’re confident that you can piece together high-quality sample packs that will compete with the other ones available online for free, this can become a great source of revenue for you!
How To Make Money With Sample Packs
There are two ways to make money from sample packs:
- Sell them independently.
- Sell them through a company or distributor.
In an ideal situation, you’d be able to do both, but this depends on whether the platforms allows you to sell independently while also selling through their platform. If this interests you, look for platforms and distributors that are non-exclusive.
Label Your Files & Organize Your Folders
Before you start selling your sample packs anywhere, however, you need to make sure you label and organize your files properly.
As far as organization, if your sample pack involves multiple instruments or elements, such as guitar chord loops, beats, or even claps, make sure you organize them into folders so it’s easy for your customers to navigate and find what they’re looking for.
Inside these folders, you’ll want to create subfolders that contain the element types. So, if you’re selling drum samples, you’ll want one folder with all of your kicks, another for snares, etc.
Finally, it’s important that you title your files properly. You want to include the name of the sample pack, the element type, the key (if applicable), and finally, the BPM.
Sell Your Sample Packs Through A Distributor Or Sample Pack Company
The first option to consider when selling your sample packs is to sell them through an existing sample pack company.
If you want to sell your sample packs through a company, you’ll need to comply with their distribution terms and allow them to take a cut of the sales. This can be anywhere from 70/30, in favor of the producer, down to 50/50.
Usually, the price they sell your pack for will depend on the size of the offering. If you’re able to piece together a sample pack with 100 tracks, it will sell for a lot more than a set of 10.
If you want to go this route, here are some companies and sample pack distributors to consider:
- WA Production
- Vandalism Sounds
- Bantana Audio
- Audentity Records
Sell Your Sample Packs On Your Website
If you want to sell your sample packs in a way that allows you to keep all of the profits, you can easily sell them on your own website.
When going this route, you play by your own rules. You set the prices, keep all of the profits and package the tracks in any way you like.
With your own store, you can also take advantage of cross-selling and up-selling practices to increase your average order revenue.
If you want to sell your packs yourself, you can set up an eCommerce store on Shopify, which will allow you to get your store set up in as little as a few hours.
Unfortunately, setting up a website isn’t enough. If you want to sell sample packs directly to producers and bedroom musicians, you’ll also need to invest time in marketing these packs.
To market your sample packs, I’d recommend spending at least $5 per day on Facebook ads when you’re first starting out. This is a quick way to get some initial customers to your website and gauge interest.
Video ads perform well on Facebook. You can hire a freelancer on Upwork to make a professional looking video that showcases your sample pack and appeals to an audience of music producers.
Before running the ad, though, make sure you set up your Facebook Pixel with your store so the ad can track purchase behavior and auto-adjust the targeting to people who are more likely to make a purchase.
4. Mixing and Mastering Services
Every musician needs mixing and mastering work done on their music if they’re looking to put out something that appears professional.
If you’re an experienced music producer and have some work samples that you can show to potential clients, then selling mixing and mastering services may work for you.
This can be lucrative if you sell to big record labels. Initially, you may only be able to work with small, local artists, but as you gain experience, you’ll begin to attract attention from bigger clients.
How To Make Money With Mixing & Mastering Services
If you want to make money selling mixing and mastering services, don’t limit yourself to your local market. With the internet, you can sell your services to anyone in the world.
Once your website is up, you need to start driving traffic to it.
I work with Matty Harris from mixandmastermysong.com, and the most valuable source of traffic to our site is Google.
Getting your website to rank in Google is known as Search Engine Optimization (SEO). The deeper details of SEO are beyond the scope of this article, but the idea is that you find keywords that people looking for mixing and mastering services are typing into Google, write lots of awesome blog content that targets those keywords, and get other websites to link to them.
If you’re interested in learning more about SEO, check out Backlinko. I’ve learned nearly everything I know about SEO from this site.
5. Selling Beats
Selling beats online is similar to selling sample packs but while sample packs are available for all kinds of music, beats are more often targeted specifically at Hip-Hop.
If making beats is what you’re best at, why not sell what you’ve got to vocalists and Hip-Hop artists?
There’s huge demand for beats within the hip-hop community. Rappers and vocalists often need these backing tracks to write lyrics on top of.
How To Make Money Selling Beats
The easiest way to start selling your beats online is to find established websites that will sell your beats commission-free.
Luckily, these sites are non-exclusive, so you can sell your beats on all three of them.
Alternatively (or additionally), you can sell your beats on a website you build with Squarespace or Wix, but with the previously mentioned services being commission free, this seems unnecessary.
Once again, keep in mind that if you want to sell on your own website, you’ll need to find an effective way to drive traffic to it. This could be through Facebook/Instagram ads or SEO.
If you want to promote your beats, you can upload short snippets of them to SoundCloud that you can share on social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram.
Another way to promote your beats is to join Facebook groups that have an audience of hip-hop artists. When you join these groups, don’t just promote your stuff. Instead, become a part of the community so that when you do post something promotional, members of the group will pay attention.