6 Easy Ways to Make Money from Your Music
Let’s face it — we all want to monetize our music careers.
After all, music is hard work. It might be fun, but you put your blood, sweat, and tears into it. The reason you’re reading this is because you see the potential to earn more. And you’re right.
You probably won’t earn seven figures let alone six figures from the following sources (though it’s certainly possible), but you can view them as the bread and butter streams for musicians.
So, let’s look at six easy ways to make money from your music.
1. CD & Merch Sales
Nobody buys CDs anymore right? Well, not exactly.
Some people still prefer buying something tangible. It’s probably because it gives them a sense of ownership. You don’t get the same sense of satisfaction from buying a digital download.
So, carrying some CDs is a good idea, and for many reasons I would recommend using CreateSpace as a print-on-demand solution.
The same goes for merch. You can’t buy a digital T-shirt or button. So, whenever you’re playing live, you should bring some merch with you.
2. Digital Sales
Sales from iTunes, Amazon, and other online stores can still add up. iTunes specifically has nearly 800 million accounts. It’s hardwired into virtually every Mac and Apple device. That’s insane!
So, you would do well to distribute your music digitally, even if you aren’t much of a believer in it. Use a service like CD Baby or DistroKid (the two distributors I have experience with) to get your music on all prominent online stores and streaming sites. Speaking of streaming…
3. Streaming Royalties
Don’t say I didn’t warn you. Streaming royalties are relatively insignificant. But over time, it can turn into something.
Here’s a tip: Some of the sites that offer more per stream include: TIDAL, Microsoft Groove Music, and Google Play. If you can get your fans to use those sites to stream your music, you’d be better off for sure. Sadly, most people will still use Spotify, which is probably the worst overall.
Again, you can easily get your music on streaming sites using one of the previously mentioned music distribution services.
4. Publishing Royalties
Performance Rights Organizations (or PROs) collect publishing royalties from radio, TV, live venues, retailers, streaming sites, commercials, and films on your behalf.
In the States, your main options are ASCAP and BMI. In Canada, we have SOCAN. Yes, please do take a moment to sign up with one of them and register your songs. Do it now even. You’re probably missing out on money if you haven’t already.
And, by the way, you can get some free internet radio airplay on Radio Airplay. That could help you build your publishing royalties, at least a bit.
5. Live Performance
Good money can still be made playing gigs. I know it probably sounds idealistic, but it’s rare I don’t make $150 from a show anymore, and I’ve made as much as $800 for a single performance as a session musician.
The key will be to gain experience as a performer, become established in your locality, and get acquainted with venues and venue owners. Some venues either won’t pay very well or will even dupe you out of money (unfortunately). The good news is the right gigs will pay well.
6. Live Performance Royalties
This is a category often forgotten or overlooked by musicians.
Here’s the thing — if you’re playing original material live, you can submit your set list to your PRO and earn live performance royalties. It takes a little bit of extra work to do, but it’s totally worth the effort.
I have a friend who tours often, and he said he made as much as $1,000 from a string of performances. Not bad at all.
There are plenty of other great opportunities out there, but we all have to start somewhere.
Start by mastering the basics. That will make it easier for you to develop other streams of income. Once you’ve done it in one area, branching out is less daunting.
Now go out there and act on what you’ve learned. If you do nothing, you won’t make any money.
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