I’m going to say something that’s probably not going to blow your mind: The Music industry is tough. With the giant Entrepreneurial boom there are a lot more people taking initiative and pursuing their dreams, most of them doing it alone. It’s not like before where you needed a manager, agent, etc – people are doing things completely on their own – which is amazing.
As a result, however, many musicians who don’t have a business background are struggling to make ends meet. Because I have an incredibly strong business background, I structured my career from the very beginning to make a living off my music. Hopefully this post helps you out to make a full-time income from your music so you can officially live the dream!
Starting it off, I make money from DJing and clubs, events and venues. One big point I want to make here is this: Until you’re super famous, no gig is ever too small for you. You never know what tiny gig can blow you up – this was even documented by Derek Sivers, founder of CD Baby. In the beginning I DJ’ed everything from house parties (where they just gave me alcohol as payment) to weddings to sweet sixteen birthday parties. I made a ton of connections from these events, and those help put me on the right path.
Next, I make money from people buying the music that I make. If you haven’t yet, make sure you sign up with an independent music distributor like DistroKid to put your music on every platform imaginable. Check out my review of DistroKid, as I’ve personally used them for years and love it. Side Note: Sign Up With My Special Link and Get a 7% Discount! – DistroKid Link.
You want your music to be in as many places as possible from iTunes to Amazon to Google Play to Rdio and more. People listen to music in numerous different ways, and if they really like you, they’ll want to support you by buying your tracks.
What’s really interesting, in this day and age, is that I actually make more money from my streams than downloads. Depending upon the platform, 10 streams roughly equals one download in terms of income, and more people are likely to stream for free than purchase. Obviously you want your music to be everywhere, from streaming platforms to purchasing platforms.
I’ve seen the streaming industry get a lot of negativity but it’s getting better everyday. Not only that, streaming platforms are smart about how people can discover your music (like Pandora), so the marketing behind them can be invaluable.
4. YouTube & Blog Ads
This is somewhat related to Streaming yet different at the same time. On my YouTube Channel I upload every track I release with a music spectrum that dances to the track. Not only does this help promote my music on another avenue, but I also make money from the ads on that video. In addition, when you connect your music with YouTube, you’ll make ad revenue off every video that has your music in it (which is awesome).
In addition, when people listen to my music on my blog, I make money because I have ads on the side. Remember that when someone listens to your music you’re capturing their attention, which is why you can make some decent money off ads that people will see before they listen to your tracks.
5. Licensing & Royalties
Last but definitely not least, licensing deals. If someone wants to use my music in a commercial project (TV commercial, movie, promo video, etc), then I’ll either get paid a one-time fee or royalty deal (sometimes both). These are pretty awesome, because you already produced/wrote the track – now you just have to authorize them to use it.
In addition, if my song plays in a public setting (radio, sports arena, etc), then I’ll get royalties from that too. Make sure you sign up with the given PROs (performance rights organizations) in your country to ensure that you get paid when that happens.
What you’ll notice overall about all these methods is that while some of them don’t pay a ton, the conglomerate of everything can really add up. Especially when you factor in that these revenue streams are all passive (except performing), it can be an awesome way to make a good living. The key is to be the hardest worker in the room, constantly improve your musical craft, and enjoy the journey.