Not all music artists are starving, and there are some musicians out there who have pushed past the 'broke phase' actually to pay their bills as music makers. While some of us just like doing it for fun and have other careers, folks like me want music to be their entire career!
Not only is it possible to make a living as a musician, but you can also follow the footsteps of other music makers out there who have made it work for them.
As a full-time musician, I've found several ways to make it a career. It's scary, time-consuming, and sometimes a bit stressful, but very worth it, in my opinion.
I want to share a few ways that you can make this work for your lifestyle if you are interested in making music full-time.
The most common and steady job you can get as a musician is to become a teacher.
Teaching music can come in a variety of different forms; you can teach private lessons, teach at schools, or even create your own online courses and give lectures at music conventions.
If you're really good at playing the piano, organ, drums, bass, or guitar, you may be able to land a pretty consistent church gig at a variety of different denominations.
In some cases, you can be hired as a singer to perform in church choirs, depending on the type of music they perform and the budget for that particular church.
Many instrumentalists and singers elect to become therapists who help people rehabilitate with the art of music. Music therapists can work in hospitals, senior care homes, mental health clinics, and even correctional facilities.
The prerequisite for being qualified for a position like this includes some college education related to psychology, music history, and composition classes.
Singers and instrumentalists are often hired by large cruise agencies to perform for set seasons on a cruise line.
This can be a very exciting and rewarding experience for musicians who want to perform, travel, receive consistent pay, and be exposed to new audiences each night.
Choir and instrument group directors can have very long and successful years conducting at a school or church community.
These leaders often have skills with at least one instrument and have a background in music education with classes that have trained them to conduct a large group of musicians.
In general, a musician can go after four types of gigs. Depending on your skill, comfortability level, and need for cash, you may want to focus on finding 1 or 2 of the four types of gigs for indie and unsigned artists.
Low Pay, Low Exposure Gigs - These types are the easiest to secure and are a great place to start if you are looking to build experience for opportunities down the line. Gigs like these include lowkey bars, open mic nights, and the like.
Low Pay, High Exposure Gigs - These gigs are great for those looking to get fans in their area and build a buzz. Performances like these include family events, popular bars, clubs, and some singing competitions.
Sites like Craigslist have a musician section where oftentimes, people are just looking for like-minded music lovers for jam sessions.
On some occasions, you may be able to find an opening for a paid position! For example, many people go to Craigslist if they have a need for someone to fill in for a band member who won't be available to show up at a gig.
If you are interested in putting your talent to work for other people's songs, consider doing work-for-hire projects.
Companies and musicians often hire singers, instrumentalists, producers, and rappers to lend their talents to a project for a set fee or pay by the hour.
Building a freelance business for your music can grow quickly if you provide high-quality results since you will frequently win repeat customers effortlessly.
Many event promoters and companies put out social media posts to announce they are looking for new acts to work with.
You could also try to put out posts yourself, letting people in your network know that you are on the hunt for paid gigs to work in your area.
You'd be surprised who a status update could connect you to, especially if you have a fair amount of musicians on your pages already! Just be sure to look into background information and get referrals when considering opportunities you find.
Check with your local community center to see if they have any music-related events on their calendars.
Community centers are often looking for volunteers and paid performers to help out and perform for local family-friendly events, especially around the summertime.
These types of opportunities may not pay a ton, but they create another way to network with people in your area who may be able to lead you in the direction of more ways to perform and get paid for it.
Consider joining a choir or group in a school setting not only to perform but also to grow as a musician and network.
Many University students and teachers spread opportunities amongst themselves for paid positions, especially in the genres of jazz, musical theater, and classical music.
IndieBible is one of the many artist resource sites with thousands of venue, label, and manager contacts available for those looking to get more paid work in the music industry.
They keep their resource list regularly updated, so it's a pretty great tool if you have the time to do some DIY outreach of your own.
These connections, including radio shows, blogs, labels, and managers, do get tons of emails from other music makers as well, but it's worth a try.
You can earn money from royalties on streaming sites like YouTube and Spotify. Each time your song is played, you earn a small fraction of a cent that can add up to a lot if you're getting thousands of plays on your songs.
Royalties are a high passive income to have since you can earn money at any time from your previous work without actively putting in present hours for it.
Related Post: See How Royalties Work And How I've Gotten Paid
Similar to royalties, sales are a great form of passive income that can earn you money from your previous works at any time. Sales in the music world can come from products like singles, albums, merchandise, and show tickets.
While not all forms of sales are passive, you still have a great amount of scalability in your profits when selling your products to fans. Bandcamp is a good place to start here!
You may also be able to make money by selling your CDs and performing locally, but be sure to check up with sales laws in an area before setting up to sing or play and sell your merchandise legally.
If you are able to consistently come out with a great stream of video and/or audio content to post on a site like YouTube, you should think about getting into starting your own channel.
Channels that have a high amount of subscribers often see thousands of dollars in earnings monthly. The key to this method is being original, consistent, and likable.
Music is always needed in advertisements, movies, shows, games, and many other forms of entertainment. If you have a large amount of original material that you are interested in licensing to a company to earn commissions, apply to a few trusted music licensing companies.
Licensing earnings can range from $500 to $50,000 per project for independent artists and musicians.
At the end of the day, there are numerous opportunities to make money with music and monetize your musical talent. With the widespread love for music and the ever-evolving landscape of the industry, it's possible to generate income through various avenues.
As a session singer, writer, and producer that has worked with over 300 clients to provide high-quality jingles, singles, and features, Yona spends her time creating and marketing new music and helpful resources for creators. Check out Yona’s latest releases on her Spotify, her Youtube and share if you like it!
If you are in need of singer, songwriter or song producer services, see what Yona Marie can offer you on her services page.