Do you love making music? That’s great! But how do musicians make money? Here are seven ways you should consider.

Jeff Goins said it best when he said:

Real artists don’t starve.

To follow your artistic passion doesn’t require you to live an impoverished existence. That’s good news if you’re a musician.

Consider the stats. Though the range does vary, the average yearly salary for a musician in the US is just over $41,000 (and can go all the way up to $104,000). The average hourly rate is roughly $20.

Now, that may not sound like a lot for some people. But it certainly contradicts the common stereotype of the poor musician following their passion without a penny in their pockets!

Clearly, it’s possible to earn a living as a musician without hitting the dizzying heights of superstardom.

But how’s it done? How do musicians make money? Keep reading to find out.

7 Ways Musicians Make Money

Here are 7 ways you can earn money as a musician.

1. Selling Digital Music

The digital world presents a plethora of opportunities for musicians these days.

Thanks to copyright law, you can earn money from online stores (such as iTunes and Amazon Music) when your songs are reproduced and distributed. Every time a song or album of yours is downloaded, you get paid what’s known as a royalty.

Rates vary. But imagine having a popular song that’s downloaded and played hundreds of thousands of times. That’s the goal, right? And it can earn you a bunch of cash in the process.

You should sell your music through your own website too. This way you get to control the price! Drive traffic to your site through social media and other forms of marketing, and set up an online store to sell your music.

2. Utilizing YouTube

All budding musicians should set themselves up with a channel on YouTube, if you aren’t already on there.

This video streaming behemoth boasts 1.9 billion monthly users. Five billion videos are watched on YouTube every single day. Many of the people on there are actively searching for new music.

Clearly, using this platform the right way can help you gain exposure and grow an audience in. But you can earn money directly from your efforts too, via ad revenue.

Popular videos attract a lot of eyes. This, in turn, becomes prime real estate for advertising companies, who’ll pay YouTube to advertise there. If that video happens to be one you’ve made, you get your cut.

To begin with, the pay is minimal. But it grows as your videos gain more viewers. It’s perfect passive income for a platform that’s critical for developing your musical career anyway.

Furthermore, some companies will even want to pay you to use your song in their videos (more on this later).

3. With Streaming Service Royalties

Remember how copyright laws help musicians earn money online through downloads? The same is true of streaming services.

Thanks to reproduction copyright, as the owner of your song you can get paid royalties whenever your music is streamed via a streaming service such as Spotify. Interactive streaming services like this (meaning you can pause and make playlists, etc.) offer a source of income that’s set to grow over time.

4. With Live Performance

One of the primary ways of making money with music is through live performance. These days, touring and stage performances are two of the highest paying revenue streams for top artists.

The music venue you perform at will pay you for it. When you’re starting out, you’ll earn very little this way (and you may have to perform for free). But as your name grows ,so will the venues that want to hire you. And what you earn/can charge goes up with it.

Another option is to do cover gigs (at weddings and events and so on). Some musicians consider this below them, but these gigs can pay quite well, bring a steady source of income and enable you to earn money with your music.

5. Offering Music Lessons

If you’re a musician you obviously have a talent. Other people will pay handsomely to learn from your expertise.

Music lessons may not be what you have in mind when imagining yourself as a musician. But it can be a sensible way of putting some dollar in your pocket as you get started in this world. That’s especially true when you consider that the live gigs you take may not pay.

It’s also worth remembering that you’re in total charge of setting your rates. Many musicians earn a substantial income like this.

6. By Selling Merchandise

As you grow a fan base, you’ll find that people will pay good money for stuff with your name and face on it. Over time, this can become a serious source of cash.

But even from the beginning, you can earn some extra cash by selling T-shirts, CDs, toys or anything else your fans wish to buy from you.

7. With Royalties from Sync Licenses

Remember earlier when we mentioned that people who want to use your music will pay you for the privilege of doing so?

This is called a sync-license royalty. Think about a commercial that’s perfectly matched to your music. Or a film or TV show that wants your song in the background. The people in charge of that decision will pay you a license fee to use your music.

It’s usually a one-time payment, but it can mean a substantial cash-injection. Some musicians make their sole income like this composing music – specifically to sell in this way.

The demand for music in commercial projects has led to the formation of sites/apps that offer YouTube royalty free music for YouTubers/video makers to use. Musicians can make the music for these sites too.

Time to Make Some Money Musically

There you have it: 7 ways that musicians earn a living.

There’s no single answer to the question of “how do musicians make money?” Instead, it there are multiple sources of income that can add up to a larger sum over time.

Obviously, how much you earn is going to vary based on your pursuits. But as we’ve seen, there are plenty of income streams to tap into.

Musicians stand a great chance of earning a solid living if they can utilize several if not all of these approaches.

Now we’d like to hear from you! Are you a musician? What do you currently do to earn a living? Let us know in the comments!And be sure to contact us for more information on progressing in your career.

The Music Entrepreneur

The Matrix, Music Man guitars, Gibson acoustics, Wegen picks, Border Collies, good books, a laptop, a bit of blogging, and a side dish of beauty. What else is there, really? Oh, right music entrepreneurship. That ol’ thing? It’s in our wheelhouse.
The Music Entrepreneur