24 Ways Music Artist Make Money

24 Ways Music Artist Make Money

Photo by Austin Neill on Unsplash

24 Ways Music Artist Make Money

There are many ways music artist make money! In this list are some of the most creative and certain extra income ideas for music artist.

One of the biggest challenges facing music artist is producing income. Gone are the days when a music artist or band could rely on music sales and touring to earn a living.

We must all tolerate that part of the reality of being a working musician today is the need to diversify your revenue streams. Although sales of recorded music are decreasing, there are new sources of revenue available.

supplemental income ideas for

Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash

Data: The New Currency for Musicians

If you own the data, the money will always follow says Derek Webb / Artist & Founder of NoiseTrade

There were quite a few income streams outlined in this article. However, there is a new kind of currency in the music industry that you should pay attention to: data. Access to data, and ownership of that data, should be a top priority in your career as a music artist and  musician.

  • What is data?
  • Data gives you insight into who your fans are, where they live, and what content they’re consuming. Things like:
  • Where are your website visitors from?
  • What site(s) brought them there?
  • Where do your mailing list members live?
  • Which of your songs are being streamed/downloaded the most?
  • Where are those streams/downloads happening?
  • What types of merch are selling best for you? Etc etc.

This data can help you choose which song to release a video for, where you should tour, and what merchandise to sell.

You get access to this kind of data from sites like Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube that now offer data, to give you insight into your fans on those platforms. Even music streaming services like Pandora and Spotify have opened up data to music artist and musicians.

BUT, you don’t own the data on those platforms. While you should definitely make use of it, any service can change that access, or take it away.

So what’s the best way to own your data? With the two most essential tools for marketing your music: your website and your email list.

online hub

Photo by Andrew Neel on Unsplash

Website: Is Your Online Hub

A good website will change someone’s perception of who you are and what you do. It’s one of the best marketing moves you will ever make. In the age of free social media sites, some musicians and music artist ask whether they even need a website anymore. It is more important than ever to have your own website, and here’s why:

  • You own the address

With your own domain, you’re guaranteed to own that little slice of the Internet. As long as you renew it even if you switch hosting companies, you can transfer your domain so your fans will always be able to find you.

  •  You own the experience 

With your own website you also own the experience. You can control what your followers see, when they see it. This means you 100% control how you want those who support you to discover and engage with your music.

  • You can sell direct-to-followers & keep more money

If you’re selling music or merch, your own website is even more critical than ever. You get to keep more of the revenue by selling direct. Plus, your followers can join your mailing list when shopping from your online store. You can then let them know about new events, albums, tours, crowdfunding campaigns, and more.

  • You own your data

With your own website you get detailed data on your followers, which you own. And remember, that data can help you book shows, decide what merchandise to sell, and more. But more than data, you also own your fan list. There’s no “export fan list” from social networking sites, because they own that database. Remember, your list of emails is gold. It allows you to always stay in touch with your supporters long-term.


most important Marketing tool

Photo by Austin Chan on Unsplash

Emailing List: The Most Important Marketing Tool

If email is not the biggest part of your social strategy, then you are giving the power of communication with your followers to companies who will gladly take them and whose advertisers will thank you to no end for providing them with eyeballs.

Email lists might sound outdated, but they’re still one of the best tools to market your music. This is because:

  • You own the list

As I mentioned before, owning your data and your fan list is essential. With a email list, you own that database of supporters for life. No matter which email service you use, you can always download that database and take it with you.

  • It’s the ultimate permission marketing tool

An email list is the ultimate in permission marketing. Once a fan gives you their email address, they’re telling you that they want to hear about your career! So be sure to tell them about your latest album, your next show, your new merchandise, etc. An email list is an artist musician retirement plan.  Email marketing is 40 times as effective as Facebook and Twitter, combined.

Some of the revenue streams outlined in this article might be obvious, while others might be new to you. My hope is that reading this list of 24 supplemental income ideas for music artist will ignite some ideas for generating more income for your career this year and beyond!

extra income ideas for

Photo by Pepi Stojanovski on Unsplash

24 Extra Income Ideas For Music Artist

#1 CDs

Nope, CDs aren’t dead?! Don’t believe the hype. While CD sales are dropping, they remain a solid revenue generator for music artist in many genres.

If you’re going to be playing live shows, having CDs at your merch table is still a good idea. They’re cheap to produce, and make for great takeaway souvenirs that you can sign for fans.

Upside Downside
  • Low cost.
  • Good merch item for live shows .
  • Great takeaway souvenirs for fans.
  • Not applicable to all genres of music.
  • If you’re not playing live shows, probably not an essential merch item


Get CDs made with TuneCore Disc Manufacturing!

#2 Vinyl

Vinyl sales continue to surge in the age of digital music. Part of this is because many fans still want a physical souvenir of your music. So bundling it with a digital download can be a great merch idea.

  • Has become trendy again.
  • Great collector items for fans .
  • Vinyl and digital download makes for great bundle item to sell online or at shows.
  • Expensive to produce.
  • Expensive to ship.


Get your vinyl printed at Standard Vinyl or Gotta Groove Records!

#3 Digital Downloads

Digital downloads are experiencing a similar fate as CDs. Sales are now decreasing with the popularity of streaming music platforms. Just like CDs, digital downloads remain a solid source of revenue for many artists.

When selling digital downloads, be sure to sell direct to fans through your website. Not only will you make more money, but you’ll also collect valuable email addresses. This way you can let your fans know about new releases, upcoming shows, and more.

  • You can sell digital downloads directly to fans and keep more $.
  • You can collect email addresses by selling direct to fans.
  • Easy to distribute globally.
  • Selling through online retailers doesn’t give you access to customer emails.


Selling and Building Your Mailing List

Sell digital downloads commission-free with Bandzoogle

Use NoiseTrade to offer free downloads and build up your mailing list!



#4 Streaming

Streaming music tends to be a controversial topic for producers, musicians and songwriters. Although payouts from streaming music tend to be small, they do add up over time.

However, you shouldn’t view streaming music just as an income generator. Through playlists, these services are becoming great at helping new fans discover music. Getting your song added to top playlists on streaming services can now be career-changing.

  • You get paid every time your song is streamed.
  • Great for music discovery.
  • Per-stream payouts are small.
  • Not easy to get added to top playlists.



#5 Live Shows: Original Music

Money made from live shows can vary, but it’s still one of the best ways to earn income as a musician.

There are also many venues available to you to perform original music. These include traditional music venues, bars, clubs, coffeehouses, colleges & universities, and music festivals.

Performing live is also one of the best ways to sell merch. If you’re going to be playing a lot of live shows, be sure to stock your merch table!

  • Still one of the top income generators for musicians.
  • Great for selling merch.
  • Great way to connect with fans.
  • Cost of touring can be high-priced.
  • Can be difficult to get good bookings early in career.
  • Can be challenging to get fans out to your shows.


How to Get a Booking Agent to Book Your Band

For help with booking College & University gigs, check out Indie on the Move’s College & University Show Booking Directory

Need posters? Design, print, & ship customized posters with Band Posters

Manage your touring schedule & finances with Artist Growth

Monetize your live show recordings with set.fm

#6 Live Shows: Cover Songs

Playing cover gigs is sometimes frowned upon by some musicians and music artist. But these shows tend to pay well, and allow you to get paid to use your voice or instrument. There’s no shame in that.

There are lots of opportunities to play cover gigs. This includes at bars, restaurants, weddings, corporate events, and other private parties.

  • Generally high-paying.
  • No promotion needed.
  • Yet another good feature
  • Can lead to other private gig bookings.
  • Usually can’t perform a lot of original music.
  • Not great for selling merch


If you’re looking to book gigs at parties or private/corporate events, definitely check out GigSalad.

GigSalad is a service that connects bands and music artist to topnotch live show opportunities in the U.S. and Canada. Over a million event planners and talent buyers have used them to find entertainment for their events!

#7 Live Shows: House Concerts

In the ecosystem of gigs, house concerts are king! House concerts can be a great way to fill gaps in your touring schedule, and can net you some impressive income.

While attendance for house concerts is limited by nature, ticket prices are often higher for these intimate events. Plus, the majority of the revenues (often 100%), goes to the performer.

  • Great to fill gaps in touring schedule.
  • Majority of $ goes to the performer.
  • Potential for high merch sales.
  • Great way to connect with fans.
  • Can be challenging to find hosts.
  • Often need to educate music fans about what house concerts are.
  • Turnout can vary greatly depending on the host.


Check out these 10 Ways to Book More House Concerts

online gigs

Photo by Sticker Mule on Unsplash

#8 Online Gigs

With online gigs, you can broadcast a live show right from your living room. Fans buy “tickets” to get access to the live stream, and they can also send you tips during the performance.  Online shows can be a great way to generate extra income, and are not expensive to produce. Plus, you can reach your fans from around the world in places you might not be able to get to on tour!

  • You can reach fans anywhere in the world.
  • Low cost of production.
  • Great for generating income (tickets & tips).
  • Doesn’t quite capture same experience as a live show.
  • Fan experience can vary depending on internet connection & quality of speakers.


To produce online shows visit Concert Window and Stageit!

#9 Physical Merch

Income from physical merch can depend on the amount of live shows you play. If you play live often or go out on tour, be sure that you have plenty of merch on hand.

You can sell everything from tshirts, CDs, and smaller items like buttons and stickers. Not sure what you should sell? Ask your fans! Use your mailing list and social media to get a better idea of what your fans would be willing to buy.

Be sure to also have all your merch items available through your website. You can bundle physical merch items with music to create awesome package deals for your fans.

  • Creates additional income at live shows.
  • Great souvenirs for fans.
  • Good for promo of your band (t-shirts, stickers, pins, etc.)
  • Cost of producing merch.
  • Inventory management.


Need help with planning with planning your merch strategy? Read: The Ultimate Guide To Selling Band Merch Online

#10 Digital Merch

Merch doesn’t only have to be physical items. You can also sell digital merch items like videos, PDF documents, and images to your fans. Things like lyric books, making-of videos, music lessons, sheet music, exclusive artwork, and more!

  • Low cost of production.
  • No inventory.
  • Make great items for super-fans.
  • Can only be sold online.
  • Can be time consuming to create.


Need help with planning with planning your merch strategy? Read: The Ultimate Guide To Selling Band Merch Online

#11 Crowdfunding

Crowdfunding can be a great way to generate revenue. It can help raise enough money to cover the cost of producing your album, and more. But don’t treat it just as a way to make money.

With crowdfunding, it’s all about making a connection with your fans. Bring them along the journey with you. From songwriting, through pre-production and recording, to the release and marketing of your album. Communication and creativity are key, and with proper planning, the money will follow.

  • Great way to engage your fans.
  • When executed properly, can generate significant revenues.
  • Great way to generate buzz for your upcoming album.
  • Can backfire if treated solely as a way to make money.
  • Without proper planning & budgeting, cost of producing & delivering rewards can spiral out of control.



There are several platforms for musicians to run crowdfunding campaigns. But none offer PledgeMusic’s hands-on approach and focus on fan engagement. They also boast a success rate of 90%, with most artists on platform raising 140% of their target!

#12 Public Performance Royalties

If you’re a songwriter, you should affiliate with a Performing Rights Organization (PRO). A PRO collects royalties on behalf of songwriters and publishers to ensure that they get paid for the use of their music.

PROs collect public performance royalties. When a song is played on radio (AM/FM, streaming, or satellite), on TV, in music venues, restaurants, sports arenas, shopping malls, or any other public place, they must pay for the use of it. The PRO collects those payments and distributes the money to the rights holders.

  • Collecting your rightfully earned royalties!
  • No downside to affiliating with a PRO. It’s a must.

For more information about PROs, check out: Music Licensing 101: What is a Performing Rights Organization?

Which PRO should you go with? We’d recommend checking out ASCAP or BMI

#13 Digital Royalties

Whenever your music gets played on non-Interactive streaming music services, they must pay royalties. This includes SiriusXM Satellite Radio, Pandora, webcasters, and cable TV music channels.

Make sure you’re collecting your non-interactive digital royalties by signing up with SoundExchange. There might already be money waiting for you!

  • Collecting your rightfully earned royalties!
  • Again, no downside.

Join SoundExchange for free: www.soundexchange.com/

#14 Live Performance Royalties

You can also earn royalties from your live performances. When performing original music, PROs will pay royalties to the songwriters for those performances. This includes at bars, restaurants, clubs, and any other licensed venues.

This might be the single most underused income stream for musicians. If you perform live, be sure to collect these royalties for your performances.


  • Collecting your rightfully earned royalties!
  • Filling out the paperwork for each show is the only downside. But every dollar counts, so take the time to do it!


Contact your PRO to find out how to submit your live performance royalties.

For more information about PROs, check out: Music Licensing 101: What is a Performing Rights Organization?

Which PRO should you go with? We’d recommend checking out ASCAP or BMI

#15 Mechanical Royalties

Mechanical royalties get paid to songwriters or rights holders for purchased music. This includes CDs, vinyl, downloads, and streams.

In the US, retailers like iTunes and Amazon include these royalties with payments to digital distributors. But outside of the US, these payments get sent to royalty collection societies. These societies then distribute the royalties to music publishers.

To collect those royalties outside of the US, you would need to register with *each* royalty collection society. This is as time consuming as it sounds.

Instead, you can sign up with a publishing administration company. For a nominal fee, a publishing admin company will collect those royalties on your behalf.


  • Collecting your rightfully earned royalties!
  • Signing up with a publishing admin company, who will charge a fee and/or % of revenue collected. But this is still much better than trying to signup with each royalty collection society.


Publishing Admin

Tunecore Publishing Administration

#16 Master Use / Sync Licensing Fees

Getting songs placed on TV shows and in movies is a highly sought after part of the music industry. Some musicians make their entire income off of it. If you get your song placed in a film, commercial, or TV show, they need to pay a licensing fee. In fact, they need to pay 2 licensing fees.

One is a “Master Use” licensing fee for the use of the recording. The other is a “Synchronization” or “Sync” licensing fee for the songwriter(s) & publisher(s).

These fees can vary. It all depends on the budget for the project, and how much they want your song.


  • Can be a significant source of income.
  • Not easy to find placements for songs.


How to Get Songs Placed on TV and in Movies via Ari’s Take

#17 YouTube

When music is used in a video that is running ads, YouTube pays part of that ad money to the rights holder of the song.

This of course includes ads displayed on your music videos on your own YouTube channel. But it also includes ads displayed on videos using your music that are not on your YouTube channel.

Digital distributors can collect that money from YouTube on your behalf. This can be eye-opening, as they search YouTube for any uses of your music. So you might collect money from videos that you didn’t even know about!


???? Downside

  • Collect money from ads placed on any videos that use your music.
  • Payouts tend to be small.
  • You only get paid if ads are being displayed on videos.


Collect money from your sound recordings on YouTube: TuneCore’s YouTube Sound Recording Revenue Collection

For tips on how to make money on YouTube, check out: How to Make Money From Your Music On YouTube

#18 Sponsorships

If you’ve built up a fanbase, local businesses, music companies, and even major brands could sponsor you to reach those fans. You can offer valuable visibility with your live shows, on your website, social media, and through your mailing list.
Sponsorships are sometimes paid in cash, but it’s more likely that it would be in

the form of free products, services, and gear. This would help you cut costs, which still has value. Every dollar counts when it comes to running your music career as a business!

???? Upside

???? Downside

  • Additional income to help pay for your expenses.
  • Free products & services can help save you money.
  • You must have a solid fan base/ draw for companies to be interested.
  • Can be time consuming to finalize sponsorship deals.


For tips on approaching sponsors, check out: Musicians How To Get Sponsored Part 1

For a detailed look at putting together a sponsorship proposal: How to Get Sponsored Part 2: Building a Proposal

#19 Session Work

Another way to make some extra money is to put yourself out there as a session musician. A report published by Berklee College of Music found that session musicians can make up to $100,000 a year.

As a singer or instrumentalist you could do session work in studio for other musical projects. Or if you have a flexible schedule, you can look to get hired to go on tour with other bands.

To find gigs, talk to other bands and let local studios know that you’re available for hire. Be sure to also use your social networks to get the word out!

  • Get paid to play your instrument.
  • Make connections with other musicians, bands, studios, and venues.
  • Challenging to find consistent work.
  • Can take time away from your own project.


For tips on finding work as a session musician: How to Get Hired As a Session Musician

#20 Songwriting/Composing

If you’re a songwriter, you could look to write songs for other musicians, as well as co-write songs with other artists.

You could also look to compose music for film and television. This type of work can generate significant revenues in licensing fees and royalties.

  • Get paid for songs you’ve written.
  • Collect royalties on the songs you’ve written.
  • Grow your network of musicians, songwriters, and producers.
  • Can take time to find artists to work with.
  • Can take time away from your own project.
  • Fierce competition for film & television projects.


Songwriting Inspiration Tips

#21 Music Lessons

One way to generate revenue for your career is to teach your instrument to others. This can be a nice way to supplement your income, and allows you to hone your craft at the same time.

You could offer music lessons in-person, online via Skype or Google Hangouts. You could even sell video lessons through your website!


  • Get paid to play your instrument & hone your craft.
  • Students and their parents can become fans of your music.
  • Can take time away from your own projects.


How To Build a Music Teacher Website

10 Ways to Make More Money Selling Lessons on Your Website

#22 VIP Fan Experiences

Superfans. These are some of the most interesting men and women in the music industry right now and they’re particularly important to artists.  You should of course offer VIP fan experiences during your crowdfunding campaigns. But it doesn’t have to stop there.

For any gig you play, try offering your superfans a little something extra. A meet & greet after the show. VIP seating with drinks included. Maybe even a pre-show dinner with the music artist or band.

In the age of digital music, scarcity is valuable. So you’ll be able to charge extra for these unique experiences. This will generate more revenue, and also further strengthen your connection to your superfans.


  • More income for live shows.
  • Another good feature.
  • Creates strong connection with your superfans.
  • There’s a limited amount of experiences you can offer at each show.
  • Can be time consuming to plan/ organize/execute.



Your Own Website to Sell the VIP experiences.

#23 Subscription/Patronage

One of the newest revenue models for artists is the subscription or patronage model. This is where fans pay a monthly recurring fee for access to your content.

This content could be your entire discography plus any new music or exclusive access to new music and videos and other behind-the-scenes content. If you’re especially creative, this can be an excellent way to generate recurring revenue.


  • Recurring income.
  • Creates strong connection with superfans.
  • Challenge of creating enough content.
  • Could potentially conflict with crowdfunding campaigns and other music sales.

Patreon is a  platform that focuses on recurring funding for artists.

Create your own subscription service using Bandcamp

#24 Niche Websites

Photo by Wealthy Affiliate

What is a Niche?

A niche is a distinct segment of a market, in other words an “audience”.

When choosing a niche that fits you, you should be choosing something that is ideally an interest, a passion, a hobby, but it could be something that you would like to learn about. You don’t need to BE an expert, you BECOME an expert.

I personally enjoy many different things. I enjoy music, I love to read books, I like to try new things to do, I am really interested in  fashion, health & wellness, online entrepreneurship, internet marketing, and I love everything about the online business world. I am passionate about my personal relationship with God and people (spouses, children, parents, friends etc.). I am also opinionated about politics, religion, especially mother and father relationships.

Almost anything you can think of is a niche and that is why this is a great way to supplement you income as a music artist! You are going to get to choose YOUR niche based on things that you are interested in. You can earn money online from absolutely every single niche because there are billions of people out there searching for information, for solutions, and spending billions of dollars on products/services every day.

In other words, YOU have to create the direction for your brand & business for whatever niche you choose. As you learn more and move forward the pieces of the puzzle are going to come together.

You can take your niche idea and turn it into a tangible business by starting with a website.

  • State of the art secure and fast hosting.
  • Website builder and hosting all in one platform.
  • Kyle and Carson (the owners) actually coach and support you.
  • No technical or prior online business experience required.
  • You are a business owner.
  • You work for yourself.
  • You have much more time with your family.
  • Your income depends on you.
  • You can work where ever you want.
  • You will have access to immeasurable amount of customers.
  • Jaaxy keyword & niche tool included.
  • WordPress themes and plugins.
  • Video training, tutorial training, classroom training and courses.
  • Close the 700,000 helpful community members.
  • 13+ full, interactive classrooms.
  • Live support & interactive help (even at 2am in the morning!)
  • 2 free, beautifully designed websites (more with premium)
  • Access to industry experts & millionaires.
  • Its a strict spam free environment.
  • Affordable.
  • Completely FREE to get started! (with no hidden fees)
  • It will take time to make money.
  • To be successful you must invest more time.


To learn how to make money on online with niche websites: Get Started With Wealthy Affiliate

In Conclusion

“Focus on the music and the show, the rest is secondary.” Bob Lefsetz

I hope you found this article helpful in sparking some ideas for how to generate more revenue for yourself as a music artist and musician!

But even with all the advice contained in this article, it will fall short without great songs and a great live show. So remember to practice, rehearse, and sharpen up your craft first, then worry about making money. It is all about learning to balance and prioritize.

I think I covered quite a bit here! What are some other ways people not just musicians and music artist, can make money online? Leave your comments and suggestions in the forum below!

Be sure to follow me on my blog by subscribing to my email list, on Facebook, and on Twitter to keep up to date with future tips and advice!

Follow Soulful Chicago





4 Replies to “24 Ways Music Artist Make Money”

  1. Wow, I had no idea there was so much to do to succeed in the music industry. I mean long gone are the days when you would buy a 45 of your favorite song and play it. I did not believe Data could play such an important role for the musician, this is a lot of great information that I will be passing on to my friends who are musicians.
    Thank you,

    1. Ladi Soul says:

      Yes Jesus! Times have changed and there is so much you can do with data! It’s the infomation age now and the information you have is the key to every musicians success!

  2. Life Hack Guide says:

    Thanks for such an informative article. I have always wondered how artists make money. Your article is definitely an eye opener for me as it allows me to somehow have an idea of how musicians earn money besides the conventional CDs. It has never occur to me an artist can make money through niche websites. It makes sense now after reading your post – musicians can share their passion and help others through their niche website. Great sharing, thanks!

    1. Ladi Soul says:

      Yes! It is something that most artist musicians aren’t aware of. It is a way to diversify their income if they’re willing to do the work. There are many unconventional ways for artist musicians to make money. Thank you for commenting on this post! Glad it was informative to you.

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