5 Ways Musicians Make Money That You Didn't Know
There is actually a lot of free government money for music and the arts. Musicians just have to spend a bit of time looking for opportunities. There could be thousands to hundreds of thousands of dollars available to local artists in your city. Take time to google search granting organizations in your city. Maybe visit your city hall and community centers to inquire about funding opportunities for the arts.
Once you find a few grants, there will be an application process. It's best to find an E-mail for the organization and get in contact with the main granting agent. He or she can tell you exactly what the organization is looking for. They may possibly even review your application before submission. Granting organizations are often looking for ways art can better the community. For example, a music teacher could get free money to buy a couple guitars and teach guitar after school. If the school won’t fund it, the grant money would fund the idea, gas, time, and supplies. The music teacher would essentially pay his / herself or any employees needed with the awarded funds.
Another example is if your city’s looking to boost tourism through local events, highlighting music from your city. A granting organization could fund you to put together a showcase in the name of your city.
Be sure to shake hands and stay in contact with everyone you meet in the process. Whether you earn the grant money or not; organizations distribute grants yearly. It is their job to find some way to spend that money. That becomes easier for them when working with a familiar artist rather than signing up a new one.
Public Performance Royalties
Musicians accumulate performance royalties whenever a song is played in a television, show, on the radio, restaurant, grocery store, mall, etc. PRO's or Performing Rights Organizations like BMI and ASCAP regularly distribute royalty funds to artists. Musicians receive royalty payments even when a song is played live in concert. Any entity who wants to use your song must obtain a license or permission to do so. It would be tough for every TV network, restaurant, or venue to contact every artist they play. Thus they pay for blanket licensing through PRO’s. It would also be very difficult for any one artist with a bill board charting song to keep track of every single company that uses his / her music.
Register and these organizations will keep track of all the times your song plays all over the world. The PRO's collect your money for you, then send you residual checks. Take a little time to log your performances and the venues at which they took place with your PRO and receive pay even for the times you, yourself, perform your song live.
Sync Licensing for TV, Film, Video Games or Commercials
Every time you play a video game, watch a movie, YouTube video, TV show or commercial, there’s music present. Someone has to make that music, which can take a bit of work. Someone has to get money for that work. As a musician, you can compose music to be licensed and placed in several forms of media. There are entire libraries full of licensed music for creators to choose from. You can make money by adding your music to a library.
Music completes the emotion and scene in visual media. We often use dramatic strings in movies to portray a shocking death. EDM producers might make music to fill a club scene in a Netflix series about youthful party goers. Make it a point when you’re watching your favorite shows to pay attention to the musical scoring. Ask yourself, "What kind of music is predominantly used for happy scenes, sad scenes, fight scenes, or scene transitions?" Recreate something in the style of these musical moods, and get your music placed. You can attain placement yourself or through an agent who may already have connections. If not placed in your intended show, the music could be placed in other shows of the same genre.
Sponsorship / Affiliate Marketing
You may be able to get sponsored if you have proof of a following and influence over a community. Reach out to companies that align with your brand and they may sponsor you, often “in kind.” This means rather than money, you will be offered sponsorship in the form of company merchandise or service. Companies sponsor a musician with merchandise trusting that the musician will make use of their merchandise in front of others and in result, inspire people to spend money with that company. So for instance, a consistent YouTube cover singer, could be sponsored in kind by Rhode with a free microphone. All Rhode may ask is that said Youtuber films a certain number of YouTube videos singing with the sponsored mic.
It’s basically free and passive advertisement for Rhode. If you’re sponsored, your fans who trust you, will be more likely to trust and spend money with Rhode when they continuously see it used in your videos, presenting clear audio.
Today musicians are brand ambassadors or do plenty affiliate marketing with free merch from companies that provide them instruments to use in their performances and videos. Musicians add special links to YouTube descriptions that direct fans to the companies that provide their music gear. These special links will have a code just for the musician that lets the company know every time a customer came from them. The musician gets a percentage of each sale. With affiliate marketing, as YouTube subscribers grow, so will a musician’s money.
People make all types of money on YouTube. You can upload your music to YouTube as still audio videos or actual music videos and monetize your original content to bring money from views. But you could make a lot more if you are quick with turn arounds of videos for cover songs. People love to watch other people sing their favorite songs. Make an remix or cover of a hit song immediately after it hits the radio. You can potentially ride a week long trend for thousands of views you normally wouldn’t get on your own. Monetizing that video could bring in dollars, and in the link you could even add your tour dates or paid download link. You could even just exchange an email for a download so that way you can market future products and merch to those who love your covers.
Youtubers can earn about $3 - $5 per every 1,000 views and quick covers can easily bring in thousands of views. If you're consistent and even able to post on a schedule so that the algorithm recognizes you, your subscribers could sky rocket after a few months with a little algorithm favoritism in recognition to get you a guaranteed amount of views for each video. Slowly overtime you would build a base of regular viewers for regular view payment. Look at Chloe & Halle for example who made dope original covers for years to make it to YouTube sustenance. The duo eventually grew a fan base so big, they were recognized and signed by Beyonce.
In the digital age, producers are actually able to make a lot of passive income by setting up a beat store 1 time and then uploading a few new beats for sale monthly. Here producers can sell beats with leased or exclusive rights. Exclusive licenses are meant for 1 time sales to 1 artist, and 1 only to do whatever they want with the purchased music. Exclusive beats often sell from $200 - $1,000 or more and come with fully tracked out wav files.
Leases often sell for $25 or more as high quality mp3’s. With a lease, an artist would sign a contract limiting the use of the instrumental to a certain number of streams or radio play before they have to pay to upgrade their license. And the best part is you can arrange to receive quarterly checks in the form of mechanical royalties from streams, radio play, performance, and licensing or placements. You’ll generate income way after the song has already been completed.
If you’re a good instrumentalist, there’s money in recording sessions. Today the computer can do so much, everyone’s a producer, but at times a producer will still need that natural genius, especially for instruments that are a little harder to get great VST’s for their acoustic abilities, like guitar. Producers can hire you to come in and replay music they’ve written either by ear or with notation. Or they may want you to come in and make up guitar or layered brass parts for them. If you’re a singer, you could lay down choruses for producers, background vocals or choral effects. Sometimes a producer may want a pianist just because you’ve actually invested in an expensive keyboard that sound s better than their VST.
Merch is a great way to bring in money, especially directly after a live show. If your set was good, people are going to want to take a piece of you home. You can provide them with T-shirt to turn each fan into a walking billboard for your music. Another option is to print some classic vinyl records which are on the come back as chic collector’s items for music fanatics and audiophiles. You can offer Tiny Tapes at your merch table, which people love because they’re super nostalgic in the form of audio cassettes but retro fitted to plug in head phones.
The merch table needs to be set before you’re on stage. Showcase your merch in hand or wear it while you’re up and continuously point to your table. There’s nothing like the moment at hand to garner support from people who love you, but may have a drink or two and rush on to the next best thing as soon as you stop singing. As soon as you finish your set, let someone else breakdown and you head over to your merch table. People will want to compliment and thank you for your performance. Let them do it in front of your awesome T-shirt and stickers.
Aside from Crowd funding platforms like the ever popular “Go Fund Me,” there’s platforms like Patreon that facilitate the subscription model. On Patreon you post exclusive content for paying patrons. You can offer people to join your Patreon for different amounts of money. Different level monthly pledges grant access to different types of content.
If you promote your Patreon enough, you could end up with a number of $5 subscribers who get access to BTS scenes before shows or at rehearsal. $10 subscribers can have access to the BTS, plus song writing sessions and maybe even offer live input toward lyrics. They would take pride in knowing they helped one of their favorite musicians create. Then fans who pay $20 a month for premium membership may get everything from the first two levels plus a new song in their E-Mail every month and an annual merch pack, which they technically pay for with their membership and then some.
You can slowly build a monthly residual income and a life long fan base that interacts with just you on Patreon, unlike social media which is filled with a million other distracting profiles. Just five $20 tier fans could offer you $100 a month to just do what you already love. That’s a cellphone bill!
Just take time to develop a full brand with a purpose, reason with clear, continuous, goals and why that people can relate to from the heart so they have a reason to want to support your monthly / yearly objectives. People might financially support you because your music is good. But they’re probably even more likely if they know that the reason you make music is to spread cultural awareness for a cause that they also have a personal interest in.
Online Music Lessons
Music lessons generate steady and lucrative pay. You can do them in person or online. Yes, it sounds impossible but it’s actually super doable, especially with platforms like Zoom actually now including high fidelity music modes and other tricks like screen share or even mouse control of other participants. Doing lessons in person is definitely smoother and easier, but technically cost you the musician a bit more because you have to spend time and gas to drive to your clients. Whereas online you could charge the same amount but get it all done from the comfort of your home. Or you could charge a bit less but pick up more students since you’ll have more time with less driving.
Teach piano scales with a piano picture on screen while annotating / drawing on screen to label keys with letters or highlight notes in a scale. Screen share YouTube piano tutorials to work on together with students. Instructors can play notes as students copy by ear for ear training. Screen share music notation and use annotation to highlight sections to of music to play. You'll adapt to the lag over time and it's way less worse than people would imagine. Teaching during COVID has proven all the same goes for guitar, vocal lessons, and even drumming.
Teaching music production is especially cool because there are so many free online DAWS and drum machines. Combine your favorite DAW with a video conferencing app like Zoom and teach away. Use screen share mouse control & sharing of computer sound so students can hear the exact audio sent to your speakers and even move around your screen to use your master production software. The two of you can produce together or you can make adjustments to student projects.
Yay, Bonus! Challenge yourself to daily poetry challenges, create a song writing community, learn a little basic music theory. Once you’re good enough at writing songs, you can record a few demos and send them out to artists you think song might fit. You don’t have to be an amazing singer, just good enough so that if you give the song to an amazing singer, they’ll get the point and turn your lyrics it into something sonically beautiful. Not only can you receive money up front from a song you’ve written but you can also write up contracts to receive quarterly checks in the form of mechanical royalties from streams, radio play, performance, and licensing or placements. You’ll generate income payments way after the song has already been finished.
The bottom line is there are plenty of ways to make more income. Start with considering what skills you already have and research ways to monetize them. Find out what else they may align with, and start developing the new skills to accompany. Get creative, make some moves & make some money.