When it comes to making money from their musical talents, many musicians struggle. Talk about music sales slowing down is easily found on the internet, and many take that as a sign there’s no money to be made for the average independent artist.
That said, there are a load of people who make a full or part time income from their music related talent every month. A lot aren’t even well known out of their circles, but by taking advantage of the multiple income sources that are out there, they’ve managed to make their music earn them a very respectable income.
The truth of the matter is:
There’s more than one way to make money from your music, and you should take advantage of them all! – Tweet This
Ok maybe not ‘all’ of them, but you should be taking advantage of a few of them certainly. Trying to make money from just selling downloads or just getting paid gigs alone is leaving a lot of money of the table.
There are ways you can use your talents to make more of a income from yourself, and potentially earn a job leaving salary (Disclaimer: Results will vary depending on your talents, how much you work you put in and the like).
In this guide we’ll look at what some of those income streams are, and let you know how you can get started with increasing your earning potential.
What You’ll Learn From Reading This Guide
- Why tapping into multiple sources of income is important for making more money in your music career.
- A good number of the ways you should be aiming to make money from your musical talent, whether you’re a singer, rapper, producer, or instrumentalist.
- The first steps to take to start earning from these income sources.
Why Diversification Is Important To Making More Money From Music
Many musicians who earn a livable income from their music do so by taking advantage of multiple income streams. They may only make a small amount from digital downloads and merch sales, but when they combine that with teaching others music and royalty collections, they may be making a full time living!
Admittedly, it’s often hard to simply go down one avenue and earn a full time wage from your music. That said, there’s no reason for you to only pursue one income source! It’s possible to work on multiple at the same time, as often they comprise of short term contracts or work that doesn’t require a lot of your time. Doing one alone may bring in a welcome monthly income padding, but doing three, four or five may bring you in a good full time living.
So, income diversification might be the way for you to go if you’re looking to make a full time living from music.
Before we go any further though, here are some more reasons diversifying your music related income is the smart thing to do:
You’ll Have More Opportunities To Make Money.
If you go out with the intention to only make money from say gigging, you’re limiting the amount of money you can potentially make. As a musicians, you have skills that can be used by more people then just yourself. The great thing is that there will be people willing to pay for use of your skills if you’re good enough.
By putting yourself in different situations and allowing people to hire your talent, you’re opening yourself to more job opportunities and therefore a bigger overall income. If you do this in the right way, you can also give yourself more time to focus on your personal music as a result.
Doing More Things Will Make Your Income More Stable.
Relying on one source of income isn’t the best of ideas in the music industry. For example, you may be making a nice living doing songwriting for a company. But what happens if that company folds and you need to replace that income some how? Staff songwriter jobs aren’t the easiest to find, so you’ll have a while with no income coming in.
If you were songwriting alongside doing paid gigs, licensing your songs and teaching music however, you’d still be making money if one avenue hits a rough patch.
Doing More Jobs Can Open More Doors.
While not all of the below jobs are ones that will work on improving your personal music brand, you can still use them to your personal advantage. Let’s say for example you do backing vocals for another artist. You may build up a relationship with them or their management team along the way, which could end up leading to other opportunities. This may be in the form of a collaboration, in the form of them recommending you for other jobs, or simply by giving you ideas for other links you can pursue.
By being around people in the music industry who are already where you want to be you’ll learn a lot. Just be sure to keep your ears open, remain friendly and network ready, and take advantage of any opportunities as they come up.
How Many Sources Of Income Should You Be Aiming For?
So now you know you should be aiming for more then one source of income from your music. The next question is, how many should you actually be aiming for? Well, that depends.
While some of the below income sources can be set up once and continue earning you money over time (E.G. Royalty collection), others are a lot more labor intensive. As in you have to be there to keep earning the income.
That fact that you only have so much time in the day will impact the amount of income sources you can personally aim for. Day jobs, families and the like also play a part in how much time you can dedicate to pursue different income avenues.
My advice is to go with as many revenue sources as you can without compromising on the effort put into each one. Focus on taking care of those less labor intensive tasks first, and once they’re set up with the potential to earn you money, beginning working on the jobs that require you to ‘trade time for money’. In other words, that require you to be there to do the work.
Sources Of Income You Can Aim For
Ok, so here are some of the top ways you can make money from your talent. Have a look through them all, and see which ones seem most attractive to you. Which do you think will be easiest to do? Which ones would you enjoy doing the most? Bare these two things in mind and pick out three or four jobs you could potentially do. Make a note of them for future use.
Note: Under each section I’ve mentioned which type of musician can take advantage of them, whether a singer, rapper, producer or instrumentalist.
So, here are some of the things that can make money in your music career:
Teaching Your Talent To Others
- Instrument Players.
One of the increasingly popular ways of earning a income through music, is teaching your talents to other aspiring musicians. Newbies who are looking to gain the same talent as you, and need someone who’s experienced in the field to pass on their knowledge.
You can go about this in one of three ways:
- Offering personal face to face lessons to students. You can teach them at your house, their house, or hire somewhere to teach them. You’ll be a freelance teacher working off your own accord.
- You can create a video course / ebook / membership website and teach people your talent through video lessons. This will allow you to deliver it automatically without having to be at each lesson, so it’s largely a passive income once set up.
This guide shows you what goes into making good instructional videos, and you can use software use as Digital Access Pass to protect your content and deliver your lessons to students. This is the software I use to protect certain areas on Music Industry How To.
- You can go through a learning institute. For example, getting hired to teach by a school or a youth club.
Teaching is a good way of making additional income for an increasing amount of musicians, so if you’ve something you can share with beginner musicians, you may want to consider this.
How To Get Started:
- Singers: If you’re aiming to teach people how to sing, you will need to gain a singing teacher award. There are many singing teacher courses out there, so take one to learn how to effectively pass your knowledge on to other people.
- Instrumentalists: As with singers, there are courses you can go on for teaching other people how to play instruments. They’re not as widely available as singing courses, but if you can find one then maybe go with it.
- Rappers: It’s harder if not impossible to find a course to teach you how to teach others to rap, so you’ll have to pick up the skills for this by practicing on friends who want to learn the trade. Have a look online to pick up general teaching skills as they may help.
- Producers: Again, there aren’t many music production courses which teach you how to teach this skill. Instead, master it through practice. Also, think back to how you were taught to produce, and use the best parts of those lessons on your students.
- All: If you’re going for freelancing face to face lessons, you’ll need to advertise yourself to get potential clients. You can do this in local newspapers, on your website, on relevant forums, on social sites and the like. Focus on local people so travel between you both isn’t an issue.
- All: If you’re going to create a video course or membership site of some kind, look into how to make them. As I mentioned above, this guide shows you what goes into making good instructional videos. You can use software use as Digital Access Pass to protect your content and deliver your lessons to students. This is what I use to offer protected areas on Music Industry How To.
- All: If you’re looking to teach in a place of study, look for music teacher jobs on job sites.
- Instrument Players.
It still amazes me how many musicians are losing out on money simply because they don’t register themselves with a royalty collection company.
Every time you perform your song or have your song played to the public (E.g. On radio, in a club, on a TV show etc), you earn money in the form of royalties. The amount will vary depending on where your music was play and for how long, but it’s all money that ads up.
If your song is played on a popular radio station with a lot of listeners for example, you’d get a lot more then if it was to get played on a small radio station with a much smaller listen base.
It’s the job of royalty collection companies to track where your music is being broadcasted, and collect money on your behalf for these plays. Then every so often (Usually months), they’ll send you a check for the royalties you’ve collected since your last payout.
Royalty collection companies vary from country to country, so do some research to find out who deals with this in your country. If you’re from the US though, BMI is one such company. If you’re from the UK, PRS can collect royalties for you.
Wherever you are, if you’re not registered for royalty collection, you will miss out on money that’s owed to you.
How To Get Started:
- All: Find a good royalty collection company in your country and get signed up to it.
- All: Find out with them the finer details of how things work. Often the price for joining is low, and can be made back easily if you’re music gets a decent amount of exposure. If you’re from the US, BMI is one such company. If you’re from the UK, PRS can collect royalties for you. If you’re from any other country, do a online search for a company in your country who does something similar (It’d be impossible for me to look into and list every country, sorry).
Licensing Your Music For Use In TV, Film, Games ETC
- Instrument Players.
Licensing your music for use in TV, films, adverts, computer games and the like is becoming an increasingly popular source of income for many musicians. The above mentioned types of media often require multiple songs to be used in their projects, and often outside song makers are called upon to supply the music for them.
The way music licensing works is the song copyright owner/s are compensated for limited use of their song. So this might be having their song in a certain amount of computer games, or being played a certain amount of times on a TV show. The copyright owner then gets paid for allowing this usage.
Competition for licensing your music is becoming increasingly tough, as more musicians try and get involved in this area of music monetization. That said, there is still room to get in and make money with this avenue, so I suggest you make it one of the paths you pursue.
How To Get Started:
- All: Look into licensing companies who accept music submissions, and submit your music there. Be sure to follow the guidelines and only submit your best work.
- All: If you want to take this stage more seriously, you may also want to build up personal relationships with specific companies. You can do this by creating songs mentioning their product, and contacting them personally. More info on this in a future Premium lesson.
Direct Music Sales (CD Or Download)
- Instrument Players.
Despite what people think about declining music sales, they do still make money. Even if they was to only make 10% of your overall income, that’s still 10% more money you make every year. And besides, you might make more or less on music sales, depending on your audience and how well you push them.
Be sure to both offer digital downloads on your website and have CDs to sell at your gigs. People are a lot more likely to buy CDs at gigs if you approach them personally after you’ve put on a good show, so be sure to adopt this strategy when playing showcase events and gigs you’ve put on.
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