Everyone knows about music royalties, performance royalties, and streaming services.
Still, to monetize your hobby in a realistic way, you will need to know what pays.
Whether you are a beginner, a professional musician, or just involved in the music industry, there are plenty of opportunities.
Here are our thirteen top ways to make money that you can use as a musician that require no startup costs.
1. Sell music-related merchandise on your own online store
Selling music-related merchandise online might be the easiest way to make money from music. You can offer official CDs, vinyl, t shirts, and more without being a musician yourself.
You may also produce merchandise on your own as long as you have permission from the original artists to do so.
After that, all you have to do is create a website to sell them.
2. Compose songs and sell them (licensing)
If the question is how much does a songwriter make? Then the answer is usually that it depends on what kind of work they do.
Some musicians will work specifically with advertising agencies or media companies to license their music for use in situations outside of the standard strategies of live performance and song sales.
Licensing a song means that you allow your customers to use your music as a part of a larger multimedia format, such as movies, TV shows, and video ads. If you want to know how to make money, music licensing can be a great way to do it effectively.
These types of contracts will usually only pay you once but the amount of money is much larger than receiving royalties.
This can be a great option if you prefer being paid upfront rather than waiting for your music to be released on a given platform. It is also suitable for those who are interested in making songs for a specific entertainment genre.
3. Compose songs and earn royalties from them
Royalties refer to the money you make every time your song is used in a commercial context.
For example, if you watch an advert with a song in it. A royalty will be paid to the artist each time that advertisement is shown.
There are many types of royalties: song royalties, and performance royalties are the two most well known and these refer to the money paid to an artist whenever their song is bought, streamed, or performed onstage by someone else.
While it doesn’t directly pay as much as licensing, you can still receive revenue over time as long as the song is available on streaming services and still actively listened to.
4. Compose and sell beats, loops, and samples
Do you enjoy producing beats or samples instead of creating conventional songs? Lucky for you, there are a lot of people who are looking for that type of talent.
One of the most common customers are YouTube content creators who need intros or background music for their videos. Also, aspiring Hip Hop artists will often buy beats to rap over rather than having to produce the music themselves if that is not where their talent lies.
You can also apply this talent to a regular business context. More and more businesses are looking to create multimedia content to advertise their brand with and if you are skilled at making beats you can produce them for music libraries which businesses can use for their promotional material by paying a fee to the artist.
Think of the way that photographers are paid for producing stock images that companies use every single day.
While beats and loops are sold for less than a full track due to their shorter length and implied simplicity, they tend to give you more sales since they are more flexible and easier to buy.
5. Specialize in music recording and production
Another great way to make money from music is to become a music producer or an audio engineer. Audio engineers continue to be in great demand these days as artists need to make sure that the songs are high-quality.
Your main responsibilities include overseeing the production, suggesting some changes, and altering the music as required.
Most commonly however, skilled technicians will offer mastering services. This is the final tweaking of a song’s levels to make sure it sounds rich, and professionally made before release.
As a music producer or engineer, you can make money by charging the creator for your production services. Also, earn royalties from their music if you’ve had enough contribution to the published piece of work.
6. Do session work as a musician
In many cases, a singer or a band often hires someone to play a certain instrument when a new record is being made. These people are called session musicians.
While not a permanent addition to the group, session musicians are paid per session or for every song they help to record.
Among the many advantages of session work is that you can work with many musicians and expand your knowledge and experience in the music industry.
It’s also possible that you’ll get hired for a whole tour or eventually even become a part of the band.
To increase your chances of landing a job like this, try to master more than one instrument, and improve your networking skills.
7. Start a YouTube channel about music
Do you want to be like Kurt Hugo Schneider, Pentatonix, or Sam Tsui? And make a ton of revenue from ads, endorsement, and affiliate programs? Well, the first thing you need to do is to start a YouTube channel.
You can turn your music hobby into a full-time job once you have a big enough audience.
Whether you cover songs, produce original pieces, or provide tutorials and lessons, YouTube is a great platform to express your passion for music.
While it may take some time to earn a living from YouTube, the process is much more enjoyable since you’ll be doing what you love the most.
8. Teach music to beginners
If you want to help someone learn music while making money at the same time, becoming a music teacher can be a great opportunity.
There are many people out there who are eager to master an instrument or improve their voice but don’t want to attend a formal music school.
A specialized certificate might be necessary for the long run but most musicians can start without it if they are able to showcase their skills and experience in an entertaining way.
One of the best ways to do that is to create a website to display your portfolio.
9. Create an online video tutorial
Creating an online video tutorial is an alternative method of teaching music. However, the main difference with this method is that you can teach people from all around the world.
This method of earning money has a good chance of becoming profitable as many more people prefer online learning. According to a study, the eLearning industry could reach $319 billion by 2025.
10. Be supported by your fans via Patreon
Patreon is an online platform that helps creators earn money from their fans by giving them membership access to your content.
Once you’re able to attract enough of an audience on online platforms such as YouTube consider opening a Patreon account and allow your audience to support you financially.
In exchange, give them something extra, aside from your usual content. Here are some of the best examples of this type of additional content:
- One-on-one jamming sessions
- Videos on specific tricks or techniques
- Behind the scene footage
- Covering requested songs
Besides giving you money, letting people support you via Patreon can also help you build closer relationships with your loyal fans.
11. Launch a crowdfunding campaign to compose an album
Getting signed by a record label is not the only way to make music. If you have a sizable fanbase and want them to participate in your creative effort, you can launch a crowdfunding campaign to help you compose and release pieces of music.
The benefit is that you have more freedom when creating your music. You’re free to experiment with new instruments or play around with your genre without having to worry whether your songs suit the record company’s requirements.
Just keep in mind that you still have an obligation to your fans. You should release the album at the scheduled time and give exclusive merchandise or surprises that you have promised in the crowdfunding campaign.
12. Play gigs for your audience online
The most common method for a musician to make money is to play gigs in front of a live audience. Your overall revenue comes from ticket sales, meet-and-greet sessions, and sponsorships.
Usually, a singer or a band holds a tour after they’ve released a new album. What’s more, live music recordings might also be sold later if they decide to do so, which earns even more revenue.
However, a live performance is not your only option. These days, virtual concerts have become more popular because it allows your fans to watch you play from the comfort of their home.
There are several platforms that can help you make your virtual concert happen, such as YouTube, Wave, Facebook, and Twitch.
13. Livestream on Twitch
Twitch is mainly known as a platform oriented towards gaming, but it can also be a great platform for musicians to live stream and monetize their talent.
However, you need to build your audience first before you can ask for support from your viewers. Once you have made a name for yourself, making money on Twitch is a walk in the park.
One of the most popular ways to earn stream revenue is with user subscriptions, which range from $4.99/month to $24.99/month. One downside of this is that 50% of the total money collected will go to Twitch.
Secondly, you could also get paid via in-game currency, called Twitch Bits, which you can exchange with real money later on.
Other ways to earn extra revenue on Twitch include sponsorships and affiliate programs, such as Amazon Affiliate. Since Twitch is owned by Amazon it is easy to integrate your account with the platform.
Bonus tips to successfully make money with your music
Follow these tips and tricks to build your fanbase quicker and gain more money with your music.
- Give away your music for free. When you’re just starting out, allow people to use your music for free in order to increase your brand awareness. Do this until you rack up hundreds or thousands of active listeners.
- Promote your music. Reach out to other creators and tell them how your songs might suit their projects. Check out this article to learn more about how to promote your music.
- Use social media platforms to talk to your fans. No matter where your fans discovered you, invite them to follow you on social media to keep them more engaged.
- Focus on a niche. To grow your expertise and establish your brand image, try focusing on one specific music niche at first (for example, beats and loops, video game music, commercial work, etc.)
- Compose a lot of music. The more songs you create, the better your chances of making a big hit in the future.