Making money

Start making money as a musician with this helpful guide

I was searching for ways a musician can make money, and I encountered a huge amount of information out there, it overwhelmed me quickly. As an upcoming musician, I would imagine the same happened to you.

From streaming revenue to licensing and brand partnerships, making money as a musician can be tricky. Not only that but, no one mentions the basic information you need to kickstart your music career and make sure you handle your income wisely.

That’s why I decided to mention the many ways you could do it and explain all the needed information within this post.

To cover everything, stick with me and I will guide you to start making money as a musician.

The importance of managing your finances as a musician

When it comes to having a business and making money from your services, managing your finances is a must, obviously.

When it comes to upcoming musicians though, it seems as if the majority decide to neglect the importance of knowing their finances, not to mention the fact they don’t look at their music career as a business.

Hiring an accountant or a manager to have authority on your income and help you manage it is understandable, however, that doesn’t mean you should hand them full responsibility for it.

You should always be up to date with the money you receive and be sure where that money goes.

While not only your craft makes money, you’re going to have multiple streams of income; so financial awareness must be present.

Whenever you have live performances, you are going to be touring in different states/countries, which means different tax laws, so that income may vary based on your location.

Therefore, it’s very important to keep track of that information before you plan and budget your shows.

Money counting

Read your contracts!

Another aspect of financial awareness musicians should be aware of is reading your contracts.

This is very important to be able to manage your finances properly, as well as being cautious about possible scams because in the music industry… many people are trying to get ahold of your money and they’re not looking to settle for a small percentage.

Did you know that Colonel Tom Parker was taking 50 percent of Elvis’ earnings towards the end of his career?
and of course, don’t forget Jerry heller’s misleading contracts that put N.W.A in a position of having their expenses exceed their minor income, and many more.

Reading your contracts is Mandatory to not get scammed by industry figures, or even your team.

When you get paid, and you read your contracts, you are going to be aware of your rights, the percentage of income you receive, and the amount that goes to your team, which makes your money easy to keep an eye on.

What you need to know before you make a living as a musician

Music branding

Music branding is very important. Many musicians decide to steer clear from branding their music because they believe it might damage the credibility of their craft.

Unfortunately, we live in a world where the image has become as significant as the music, sometimes even more!

Filming musician

So I can’t stress this enough, but your music is a business, your songs are the product and you are the CEO, not exactly but you see where I’m going with this.

If you don’t dedicate the time and effort to improve your brand and market it properly, how do you expect to grow and make money as a musician?

After you have worked on your brand, you’re probably looking for more exposure. The most important thing you should keep in mind when submitting is having your projects mixed and mastered.

As a music enthusiast, I search for a lot of fresh content from upcoming musicians… and to listen to most of those tracks unmixed, left with undefined reverb, and barely touched, is very unsatisfying.

So how do you believe a label/distribution platform would represent them?

Something to think about…


Living as a musician is hard, and sacrifices should be made. If you’re chasing the bag looking to make money, you have to be ready for those sacrifices.

Whether it comes to sacrificing your social life to save money, work on your craft, or sacrificing some sleep hours, therefore focusing most of your energy to develop as a musician.

I remember about a year ago, I tried to get into music. The more I decided to write, record, and basically work on my music instead of going out for a couple of drinks that I know would drain my energy for the next morning, I felt as if I was growing as a musician.

I became more aware of my weaknesses when it comes to music and had more time to work on my goals.
Who knows, maybe I’ll decide to get back to it and we could collab someday?

What I’m trying to emphasize is, make sure you dedicate enough time to work on your career and make it your top priority, which brings me to my next point.

Getting serious about your music career doesn’t mean neglecting anything else in your life.

I hear a lot of stories about musicians who dropped out of school, college, or quitted their job and kickstarted a successful career within months, and that’s great… for them.

That doesn’t mean it might be the best idea for you though.

I’d recommend starting slow with making money as a musician, then when it feels best for you, take the next step and commit 100% to your craft.

Musician making money

The music industry

I’m not gonna lie to you, pursuing music is going to be hard and the industry is no joke. Musicians fall off all the time due to miscommunication with fans, managers, or other musicians.

Remember you should always be up to date with the latest industry trends and don’t sell your dignity to get clout, instead work on improving your brand, image, craft, etc.

Don’t forget that many people are getting into music every day, so before you decide to drop everything and put your resources into it, consider the competition and the effort that must come into play.

The music industry is a world of its own, filled with different kinds of people with different professions.

Know yourself and the path that’s best for you, head towards it with the knowledge, skill, and the mindset it takes to dominate the field… Whether your a songwriter, producer, artist, instrument player or all in one.

The many ways musicians make money

If you’ve made it this far, I believe you’re ready to start building your professional career.
That means cash flow from your passion, and getting your music to the next level.

It’s exciting to start making money as a musician, but to start doing it successfully, you need to put the work in.
I’m counting on you to fulfill that, and to do my part in your success, I’m going to show you the many ways you can do it.

1. Live performances and touring:

Making money from live shows varies, but it’s probably the most efficient way to generate income as a musician. You have the opportunity of selling your merch, as well as selling tickets.

Remember that streaming might reach an end, while people are always looking for live shows cause they provide them the value of fun memories from seeing their favorite artist.

Live performance

2. Brand partnerships:

You can partner with brands to gain some exposure and minimize expenses, as you get ahold of free products and services. Once you start getting more fans, you get the opportunity of partnering with brands.

They might contact you for an offer, or you can initiate contact yourself. The most important thing to remember is that the brand’s message should be familiar to yours, and keep the same image you are trying to show.

Search for suitable upcoming brands instead of pursuing the popular ones, and keep in mind that you gain money in addition to spreading your name across the brand’s community.

3. Music Lessons:

You could use your knowledge to teach your instrument to others, this can be a nice and fun way to connect with fans, as well as making money from it.
You can sell them lessons online or offer them lessons in-person if it fits with your schedule.

4. Session Work:

If you’re just starting, and your schedule is considered flexible, you can offer session work in local studios for musical projects or go on tour with another band.

It can be a fantastic way to get to know the process of making professional music and going on tour, so you gain knowledge and you can get some tips from the other musicians.

Performing music

5. CD Sales:

When touring and performing live shows, having CD’s is a great idea. Old fans would be happy to buy them as a souvenir and new fans will get to know your music, which means making money plus extra exposure.

6. Vinyl Sales:

Printing vinyl records can be very beneficial, you can bring them to your shows and sell them there, or you can bring them to record or music stores near you, and let them do the selling.

7. Digital Sales:

Selling your music online can be done through online retailers such as CD Baby, TuneCore, and Amazon Music. Some take a cut for putting your music up, as well as taking a percentage from the sales, so you should choose the most suitable one for you.

8. Website:

You can create your own website to promote your brand, sell CDs, advertise your availability for gigs, and sell digital copies of your music.

Having a website can be a fantastic way to make money as a musician as well as boosting your credibility towards potential fans.

9. YouTube monetization:

Whenever your music is used in a video and it’s ads, YouTube pays a part of the advertising money to the rights holders of the played song.
Register to digital distributors that can collect that money from YouTube for you (such as CD Baby or TuneCore).

10. Merchandise:

Another way to make money is by selling merchandise, either physical or digital, it’s a money-making machine.

You can do it by bringing t-shirts, stickers, artwork, posters, etc, to your live shows as well as sell it online on your own website.
Your website store can also have videos, PDF’s and images of your shows, that could attract potential customers and fans who’s been to your live shows before.

11. Mechanical royalties:

Mechanical royalties are paid to the songwriter and rights holders of any song that has been purchased and recreated.
Whether it’s through vinyls, CDs, streams, and downloads.

Music streaming

12. Digital Royalties:

When your music is played through non-interactive streaming (that allows users to play music but does not allow them to select the song that plays next), on service providers such as Pandora, SiriusXM, and Webcasters, you get paid digital royalties.

You can collect your royalties safely with SoundExchange.

13. Public performance Royalties:

Whenever your music is played in public, whether it’s in a bar, restaurant, club, concert, etc… You can earn royalties for the use of your music.

If you are a songwriter or a publisher, you should partner with a PRO (performance rights organization) that collects the royalties on your behalf.

14. Licensing:

A sync license-is when you sell the right to use your music to content producers. A fee is paid upfront and you receive payment when the content (a movie, tv-show, video game, etc.) is published. Sync licensing can be a great way for you to gain exposure and make money.

A master use license-is when you sell the rights of a master recording to a person seeking permission to use it.
Any use of protected music in an audiovisual project, whether it’s a full song or short sample, will need a master license as well as a sync license.

Either way, licensing can be a great way to make money from your music.

15. Cover Gigs:

Cover gigs can be a great way to gain exposure in your local area, you receive good money and you get to introduce your music to more people.

See if someone is searching for a musician to play at their wedding, a bar, a restaurant that pays musicians for cover gigs, and contact them.

16. Online gigs:

You can start a live show right from your house, broadcasting a live stream offers a way for you to connect with fans online, and makes you money while the pay to watch you perform.

17. Crowdfunding:

Crowdfunding is a way of getting to know your true fans, and get some financial backup while at it.
If executed well, it can help you cover the cost of producing, marketing, publishing an album.

18. Songwriting/Composing:

If you write your own songs and enjoy the process of songwriting, you can write for other musicians too.
You can also play a part in composing music and producing it for a fellow musician, a film soundtrack, etc.

Composing music

As you can see, there are lots of ways of making money as a musician, so you must be aware of the share and percentage you get from every deal.

Remember the importance of reading your contracts and knowing the process of getting paid.

For now, the music industry’s future is unclear, so mastering these ways could give you dominance in the field.

Handling & organizing your income

So you got your first paycheck, it feels good, doesn’t it? You probably can’t wait to celebrate it with your team and invite all of them on a round of drinks…
Hold up, pal. That’s the time you have to be most determined to take your career to the next level.

When it comes to organizing your money, I think there should be a major focus on dividing it properly. My recommendation is following the 50/30/20 rule, which states you should divide your money based on your emergency needs, wants, and savings.

50% of your budget goes to your health insurance, car payment, housing, etc.
30% of your budget goes to your hobbies, entertainment, shopping, and 20% goes to your savings.

Counting income


As time goes by, you should take a part of your savings to invest. Investing is a key element for long term personal growth, and the more you invest in your skill, popularity, and creation, the more you will gain from it in the near future.

You can also invest in the type of equipment you use such as your studio setup.

Any kind of investing and re-investing will help you achieve bigger goals, so keep your eyes on the bigger picture.

For proper investing, separating business and personal finances is important. It makes it easier to manage your money and reduces future problems, you might want to put it into consideration.

I hope i made all the information clear to you using this guide.

If you found it helpful, let me know by leaving a like, commenting your thoughts or even sharing it with a fellow musician.


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