4 Ways Musicians Make Money Besides Selling Their Albums

In the music industry, people tend to think in absolutes. You either become super rich and famous, or fail miserably when your records tank. But this isn’t necessarily true. Many musicians are able to live comfortably off their hard work – without making the Rolling Stones cover. You might not have to make a single album sale to find success in the industry. Explore your music career with the following options:

1) Licensing

Any time a TV show or commercial uses one of your songs, they have to pay a licensing fee. The fee can depend on a variety of factors, such as the program’s budget, the extent to which they want your song, and if it is a well-established brand. Usually, you can make more money through commercials and advertising than through TV shows.

2) Crowdfunding

With crowdfunding, you can raise money to create a new album or go on tour with the support of the internet(usually) community. Japanese band Electric Eel Shock raised $50,000 on the crowdfunding site Sellaband in exchange for a lifetime reservation on their guest list. They eventually launched their own crowdfunding site for musicians called Fan-Bo.com.

3) Selling Merchandise

While your band’s on tour, merchandise sales can be the biggest contributor to your overall income (even more than ticket sales). You can make money selling physical merchandise such as t-shirts, posters, buttons, etc. at your live shows. You can also sell digital merchandise in the form of sheet music, photos, and videos. The site Bandzoogle, for example, provides a way to store your PDFs, video and audio files for quick downloading when purchased.

4) Ad-based Streaming Sites

Any time advertisements are run on your music video, YouTube pays a certain amount of ad money to the songwriter(s). This is true for other ad-based music streaming sites, such as Spotify and Pandora, as well.

Making a living in the music industry isn’t impossible. But, in this digital age, you simply can’t rely on music sales alone to generate income. Strategize, plan, and make room for plenty of opportunities to showcase your talent.

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Michelle Nguyen is a writer whose passions include music, sports, health, and wellness. She loves playing drums and bass guitar, as well as swimming. If she indirectly helps you write the next “Stairway to Heaven,” she will be very happy.