Are you ready to transform your passion into profit? Check out these inspiring ideas for learning how to make money making music!
If you’re a musician, you know music is life, and chances are your mind is constantly abuzz with lyrics, rhythm and tempo. If that “sounds” familiar, you’ve probably also thought about how to make money making music. After all, for artists who are naturally drawn to their creative pursuits, making a living doing what they love without working a J-O-B is often the ultimate puzzle piece to figure out.
The good news? For independent musicians, earning money making music today is easier than ever before, thanks to modern apps, DIY recording and editing software, and other technologies. Whether you're a seasoned musician or just warming up, we'll tell you what you need to know to transform your passion into profit.
7 creative ways to make money as a musician 🎸
Though earning a living through music may seem daunting, numerous monetary avenues exist to help bring in the dough. The key is being creative about promoting yourself and your sound effectively — then putting your head down and doing the work. Here are eight ways to capitalize on making your music work for you:
1. Live shows 🎶
This one may seem like a given, but it’s a classic for a reason. Getting up on stage and singing your heart out to fans at a live venue can be surprisingly lucrative. You charge for ticket merchandise and sales, and you never know when a potential sponsor or producer might be in the crowd. As your fan base grows, so will your profits. Seek out bookings everywhere, from traditional venues like bars and clubs to coffee shops, restaurants, weddings, and corporate events. More face time with real people equals good things for your personal brand and, therefore, your music.
2. Selling physical copies 💿
Even though we’re well into the age of streaming, many music fans love owning a tangible copy of their favorite album. It may seem nostalgic — and rightfully so — but it’s something they can hold in their hands or display as part of their personal collection, be it a CD, cassette, or record. Vinyl, in particular, is popular, with more than $1 billion in sales in 2022 (the highest since 1986), but many savvy musicians have all three available on their merchandise tables.
And speaking of merch…
3. Merchandise 👕
Nearly every music lover has a favorite concert or band T-shirt. Selling memorabilia and merch like tees, hoodies, tank tops, hats, koozies, totes, posters, and other branded items generates extra money. By tapping into the good moods of your fans at a live or online show, not only are you bolstering your income, but you’re also getting free advertising whenever someone wears your name around town. To get started, consider making small DIY batches of merch at home — perhaps you’ve got more creative chops than you know about.
Also, don’t forget about virtual merch like non-fungible tokens (NFTs). The possibilities for these one-of-a-kind crypto assets are essentially endless, including singles, albums, lyrics, artwork, and photo and video content. If you need a skilled Independent to help you design NFTs for your music project, we’ve got you covered.
4. Fan subscriptions 🤘
Subscriptions are an excellent way to provide fans exclusive access to your content for a price. Offer options for a monthly fee for access to your discography, new music, discounts on merchandise, invite-only live streams, and other perks. Subscriptions offer a reliable, recurring income stream that’s rewarding for your most loyal followers — or anyone who signs up.
5. Licensing your music 🎼
Getting your tunes some airplay in commercials, TV shows, and movies can be a lucrative source of income. Production companies sometimes pay big licensing fees to cover the use of the recording and compensate publishers and songwriters. These fees vary, but making your music available for commercial usage can generate significant revenue, and the promotional value alone can strike dividends.
6. Social media monetization 💰
Social media platforms like YouTube, TikTok, Instagram, and Facebook offer options to monetize your music, products, and services. As an artist, you can make money through advertising revenue and sponsorships, and, similarly to licensing, you can earn money when other users feature your music in their video content. Check out our guides on how to make money on TikTok and how to sell on Instagram to help you get started.
7. Crowdfunding campaigns 🧑🤝🧑
Crowdfunding is an excellent way for musicians to fund albums, tours, or other creative endeavors, such as startup capital for producing merch or investing in new equipment. Instead of relying on a single source like a record label or bank loan, crowdfunding allows you to turn to — and connect with — your fans for support. By accepting contributions (typically via platforms like GoFundMe, Indiegogo, and Kickstarter), you give your fans the opportunity to join you on your creative journey. Once you launch your campaign, be sure to promote it on your website and social media.
How much money can you make as a musician? 🥁
In short, you can make a lot or a little, depending on the type of music you make, your experience, and the opportunities available, and not all of that is within your control. While some artists earn enough to support themselves by making music alone, many supplement their income with other jobs. If you’re an independent musician looking for fair pay and exciting projects, Contra can help. Our commission-free platform has projects that pay a minimum of $25/hour, helping Independents reach and exceed their potential.
How much do music streaming platforms pay?
Did you know musicians earn royalties every time listeners play their songs on streaming services like Spotify? While streaming may take time to generate significant revenue, it accumulates over time, especially as your monthly listeners increase. Many new and established artists consider streaming a dependable source of income. To enhance the quality of your sound for the trained musical ear, try Contra’s music production software.
How do you make money online as a musician? 🖥️
You can sell your music online through platforms such as iTunes, Bandcamp, and Amazon Music. You can also sell your music through your website and social media channels like YouTube, TikTok, and Instagram. When it comes to knowing how to make money on YouTube as a musician, specifically, the first step is understanding how the platform sells ads. Ads in music videos are the primary way musicians profit from their YouTube channels, but sponsored videos are also popular. YouTube runs the following types of ads:
- Pre-roll video ads. These ads display before your video and run for up to 30 seconds. Advertisers are charged per click, meaning musicians are paid for the total number of clicks generated.
- In-stream ads. These ads display before your video, are paid per view, and can be skipped after five seconds.
- Bumper ads. These non-skippable ads are only six seconds long, and musicians get paid every time they’re watched.
Contra’s here to help 🤘
The journey to a profitable music career is challenging, but it’s more achievable than ever. As an independent musician, it's crucial to take advantage of all the tools available to you, including Contra! Our Independent-first platform allows you to explore various income streams, monetize your talent, and transform your passion for music into profit. Head to Contra to get started today.