I know, you’re already doubting your ability to make money with music in 2021. That’s most likely because everyone around you shares the same sentiment.
Well, I’m here to tell you that they’re WRONG!!
So, how DO musicians make money in 2021? There’s been so much uncertainty since the current global crisis but believe it or not…
There are MORE opportunities than ever to make money as a musician.
However, not all of these methods involve music directly.
You’ll have to think outside the box if you want to pay your bills while doing what you love.
That’s what I’ve been doing for quite some time and here’s what I’ve come up with:
- Musicians make money with blogging
- Musicians make money with YouTube
- Musicians make money with music streaming
- Musicians make money with music licensing
- Musicians make money with freelancing
- Musicians make money with digital products/services
- BONUS: Musicians make money with food delivery/courier apps
- Summary: How Do Musicians Make Money in 2021
Musicians make money with blogging
One of the easiest and quickest ways of making money living your musical lifestyle is to start blogging and MONETIZING that blog. Just keep in mind that it’ll take 1-2 years before you start seeing any significant results and that TOTALLY depends on you.
We’ll get into that in just a moment.
For now, here are the primary ways to monetize your music-related blog:
- Affiliate Marketing
- Digital Products/Services
That last one actually requires an entire section to itself, so stay tuned for that.
The first three, however, are relatively easy concepts to grasp.
Affiliate marketing simply requires you to recommend your favourite gear to your readers and to earn commissions on those sales. It’s very similar to advertising, but not quite.
It costs your readers nothing and could be a great way to earn passive income.
How much passive income? That really depends on the types of affiliate programs you join.
It also depends on the amount of traffic your website/blog receives.
I won’t get into any figures because I don’t want to set any expectations.
Advertising is also relatively easy to get into. However, this form of monetization will require LOTS of traffic before you start seeing any significant results.
Sponsorships, on the other hand, are much more difficult to get into.
First of all, you’ll need to find someone (a company) that actually wants to pay you to write.
You’ll need to have a significant audience/traffic before you merit that kind of compensation.
Naturally, these companies should reach out to you and may compensate you in form of cash and/or gear. Either way, you’ll most likely be happy with either!
So, that’s pretty much it.
I’m not going to get into the HUGE topic of blogging in this article because, well… IT’S HUGE!!
I’d be interested in teaching you about the process I went through (specifically for music-related niches), but that’ll most likely be in the form of an online course.
Seriously, the topic is REALLY BIG and will require weeks to get started.
If there’s enough interest, I just might be willing to make that for you.
Let me know in the comments section if you are!!
Musicians make money with YouTube
Closely related to blogging, YouTube was and still is a GREAT way of generating passive income. However, it’s much more difficult to get into compared to blogging.
On the bright side, YouTube is actually much less competitive than blogging.
That’s because most people aren’t willing to get their face on camera!
The forms of monetization are actually identical to blogging…
- Affiliate Marketing
- Digital Products/Services
Okay, so we already talked about affiliate marketing.
As far as advertising on YouTube, it’s more complicated to get into because your channel will need at least 1000 subscribers PLUS it must surpass a certain threshold of watch time.
That can take anywhere from 1-2 years to achieve depending on your level of commitment.
Sponsorships are similar, but this time you’ll need MUCH more subscribers.
The only channels I see with sponsorships have at the very least 100,000 subscribers.
In other words, you’ll be putting LOTS of initial work before seeing any results on YouTube.
Besides, do you understand how DIFFICULT it is to make good videos? I only recently got started and let me tell you, it’s much more difficult than it looks.
So, make some bad videos while you still can!
Musicians make money with music streaming
Out of this entire list, music streaming is actually the WORST way to make money as a musician in 2021. However, you can still make SOME money with it.
In my opinion though, the goal of music streaming is to get exposure, not rich.
To make a living (a poor man’s living), you’ll need to get at least 500,000 streams per month.
Do you know how many artists manage to achieve that?
NOT MANY. The ones that do already have more than enough money.
You also need to remember that their earnings are split between them, labels, agents, collaborators, etc…
However, it’s SUPER easy to get started with music streaming. In fact, there are many music distribution services that won’t cost you a dime! Here’s an article on that subject.
The ones that charge a small monthly/yearly fee have advantages though.
Either way, there’s no harm in trying it. I just don’t want you to get your hopes up only to realize that it’s not working. The people that try to convince you is possible are LYING.
Don’t believe me? Here’s a calculator to calculate streaming revenue.
You’ll realize what kinds of metrics you need to achieve to make this happen.
To be honest, you’ll be better off selling merch on your Bandcamp page.
Musicians make money with music licensing
Alright, so by far the BEST way to make money with your actual music is to license it. More specifically, I’m talking about licensing your music for TV and Film.
You can also include…
- Video Games
- AND MORE
Seriously, there are so many outlets that license music!
Some of these are more profitable than others and it also really depends how you’re conducting your business (if you even have a business).
Much like blogging, music licensing is a HUGE topic to cover.
If you’re interested, you can start by reading THIS ARTICLE.
In short, the easiest way to get started would be to use royalty-free music licensing websites such as Pond5 and AudioJungle.
If you had everything together, you could actually start today.
However, that doesn’t mean you’ll get any results for a LONG time.
Just like blogging, it’s all about critical mass. You’ll probably need to produce THOUSANDS of tracks before you get a few decent placements.
To clarify, you’ll be potentially earning revenue through…
- Sync Fees
- Consideration Fees
- Blanket Fees
Royalties don’t apply if you’re working with royalty-free platforms though (obviously).
Sync fees will vary depending on how you conduct your business (basically, how much of the work you do yourself) and the types of licensing agreements you’ll be signing.
Just keep in mind that sync fees can be HUGE.
Some tracks get licensed for 17$ while others can buy you a house.
Did I peak your interest there?
Musicians make money with freelancing
Freelancing is probably the best way to make money through music-related services QUICKLY. That’s because it’s very similar to having a job, although MUCH more flexible.
However, getting your first few clients can take QUITE some time.
Nowadays, it’s even more difficult considering the current global crisis.
Remote work has become the standard although some “in-person” opportunities still exist. For example, at the time of writing I was sound engineering for a local shoot (for an ad campaign).
The shoot took place outdoors, so it’s still possible.
However, you can do PLENTY of music-related tasks from the comfort of your own home…
- Music Composition/Production
- Mixing and Mastering
- Audio Editing
There are websites like Fiverr and Upwork that make it relatively easy to find opportunities.
However, I DON’T recommend relying on these platforms for the long run.
For starters, there’s nothing on those platforms that distinguishes you from the MILLIONS of other freelancers doing the same thing as you for cheaper.
You may want to think about starting an online business (like mine).
To be honest though, most of the opportunities I find are through my network.
That’s why you’ll definitely want to start using LinkedIn. It doesn’t substitute real-life networking, but it can definitely open up some doors for you in today’s climate.
Once again, another HUGE topic. Let me know if you want more!
Musicians make money with digital products/services
In regards to passive income (or slightly passive income), creating digital products/services has got to be the best way to make TOP DOLLAR.
There are folks making six-figures this way PER MONTH.
Of course, your actual results WILL vary depending largely on traffic/audience size.
That’s why I recommend WAITING before investing too much time into something.
Your first step should be starting a newsletter to get to know your audience better.
Once you do though, here are some ideas:
- Online Courses
- Online Lessons
- Music Production Service
- Mixing and Mastering Service
- Web Application
- Audio Plugins
You can either create these yourself or outsource the work.
The cycle of freelancing, isn’t it beautiful?
Once you create your product(s)/service(s), you’ll obviously need a place to sell.
Ideally, you should’ve already set up a blog/website to do that with.
I hope you’re starting to realize that everything we covered thus far is related and works together in HARMONY to generate MULTIPLE STREAMS of income.
You want job security? Lose the job.
Start diversifying your income!
BONUS: Musicians make money with food delivery/courier apps
If you were to work a job though, the BEST job for musicians would be to deliver using popular apps such as UberEats, Doordash, SkipTheDishes, etc…
Do you think I’m kidding?
During the height of the global crisis, I was making anywhere between 25-40$ per hour doing this. I was only working 2-4 hours per day and getting by just fine!
I actually bought an electric scooter to save on expenses.
It’s much more profitable (and easy) to deliver this way.
Also, the flexibility of freelancing (that’s technically what it’s considered) is perfect for the working musician. You’ll never need to take a day off or “call in sick” again.
You set your own hours and work whenever it’s convenient for you.
That’s honestly one of my biggest “secrets” to making this whole music lifestyle thing work.
However, I did my time and am starting to need to do this LESS AND LESS.
I only wish the same for you, but goddammit… PRIORITIZE YOUR ART!!
Summary: How Do Musicians Make Money in 2021
So, are you convinced yet? I tried to be as honest and transparent throughout this article without getting into any specific figures because the truth it…
YOU decide how much money you make.
There’s a direct correlation to the amount/quality of work you put in.
Even if it doesn’t seem like it at first!
Most of the “streams of income” require many months/years of irrigation before they can flow freely. That being said, you should get started AS SOON AS POSSIBLE.
The life of the artist/musician is full of uncertainty (even without the current global crisis).
If you want to provide a solid foundation for your art to rest on, you need to start thinking OUTSIDE the box. You should also lose your day job as soon as possible.
I know that may not be possible for some of you. I’m not trying to offend anyone.
However, “burning the boat” is the only way to fully commit to this whole music thing.
With the illusory comfort/security of a job, you’ll never seek more.
On that note, I hope you’re motivated and ready to take your music career to the next level. If there’s anything you’d like me to go over, just ask me in the comments.
I’m also interested in finding out how to better serve you.
I want to create some concrete educational material for you, but have NO IDEA where to begin. There’s just too much information to cover, so help me to help you!
Thanks for your time, until next time!