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How can I make money as a Musician

There are many ways to make money as a musician and I'm going to talk about 20 of them today.

Once you know them, you can do them :)

1. Gigging

There is a sure-fire route to take to get well paid gigs as an artist and grow your career.

Go from zero to hero in just one year: ooooh that rhymed!

Remember to spread your gig dates out to keep your fans interested and following you.

Know your local venues and who runs the music side of things. Write this information down so you’ve got it to refer to.

Ready to be your own Hero?

Local Open Mic's. Get there early to sign up first for the best slot! …And while you're there, network too! Hate networking? Don't know how to do it successfully? Watch Muzik Planet's networking video

Remember to plug your Social Media with each gig to get more fans and to keep them up dated with your next performances and releases.

Local low paid gigs for friends and family - Get your set list down pat..remember to include at least 2 covers at first.

Open for a mid sized artist - contact an artist whose career is the next step up from yours and who is touring in your town or city. Ask to be an opener for them and offer to bring fans to their gigs - so make sure you can. Today ‘openers’ tend to play at the end of gigs now to keep the fans there!, so it's a bit of a misnomer.

At this point in the year you’ve got your performing confidence up and you’ve remembered of course to take live videos of each and every performance so you can pick out the best ones for publicity & networking.

Paid gigs as a headliner - contact local artists with a following to be an opener for you - to bring in their fans this time!

2. Touring

After you gigging year, you should now have a strong fan base and you are ready to tour. Start with a small tour with about five gigs at first.

As a performer you should get to know the 3 major cities around you and all of their gig space as well as your own town or city’s gig spaces.

Next, target your openers to ensure the crowds come. I would go with 2 local openers in each venue - that play after you of course so that their crowds hear you!

3. Performing

Festival Performances

Once you have done gigs, have a bigger on line following, and have live footage, you can apply for Festivals. Look at the bigger ones in your local area that support emerging artists, as well as Indie Festivals in the major cities near you. If you are looking at festivals involving travel, sometimes the festivals will pay your travel and/or hotel costs, so don't be put off.

Local Parties and Special Occasions

These one off gigs are excellent for trying out new material and set lists, gaining performing experience and confidence, as well as giving your earnings an extra boost.

4. Merchandise

So here's the deal, you can create merchandise to sell on-line and at your gigs. Remember when you are gigging, to display your merch prominently with the price list highly visible for your fans to see.

I would highly recommend being as creative as possible with merchandise.

Key-rings, hoodies mugs and T shirts are the standard, but I've known a few great indie artists that have made good coin on well thought out, original merchandise ideas that fans will actually really be excited by.

Like one-off designs for your vinyl record covers...Talking of which...

5. Sell Vinyls

You can make extra revenue on selling vinyls of your songs. They've really made a come back in recent years, and are great to sell at your gigs with your merch.

6. Busking

Busking is a brilliant side earner. The key is to pick your venue wisely. High foot traffic and/or a captive audience is best. Like in a busy shopping courtyard, or a Farmer's Market.

Most places require you to get a busker's license. You'll also need a mic and small PA system.

I actually know someone who busked in London and was discovered by the owner of a major label...and they're now very famous!

7. Youtube channel

YouTube is a great way to reach more fans and even get discovered! If you haven't got one started yet, then I would highly recommend it. Once your reach 1000 subscribers, you can start to make money from your channel.

They are easy to set up and YouTube has its own Creators Academy to walk you through it. Please be patient though and build targeted subscribers who are genuinely interested in you and your music.

8. Royalties

Making money through royalties is brilliant. You don't even have to leave the house and you can earn money!

Just be sure to register your new songs with your local Performing Rights Society, like A.S.C.A.P., The PRS, SOCAN etc., so that you can get paid!

Public Performance Royalties

When you are performing your original material, or someone else is performing your music, you will receive royalties

Publishing Royalties

Whenever your music is played on screen – television, adverts, movies, movie trailers – you get paid.

Radio Royalties

Every time your song is played on commercial radio you will get paid royalties.

In some countries, like the UK- the PPL, there is a separate institution you will need to join for collecting radio royalties.

Remember the track you send to the radio stations will need the International Standard Recording Code (ISRC) that shows you own the track, to make sure that you get paid.

9. Music licensing

A fabulous way to get your music out there for movies and movie trailers, TV shows, ads, games and so on, is by joining a music licensing company. They work with Music Supervisors around the globe.

Here are a few including ones that I use:

Music Vine -

Music Bed -

Rumblefish -

Audio Socket -

10. Write songs for others

Did you know that many successful artists write songs for other singers too. Like Sia, Avril Lavigne, Bjork and Madonna.

Submitting your songs through an agency like TAXI or Groover can get your music put in front of A&R exec's and record labels who are always looking for new music for their artists.

11. Streaming

Putting your music up online for streaming is a must.

Find a great DMD and you'll be laughing. I would recommend AWAL It was recently acquired by SONY in March 2021.

Although the money per play isn't amazing, it all adds up, and when you're actively getting your music out there, the industry will start listening to your music to check it out, and those clicks will just go up and up.

12. Competitions

Although competitions and contests aren't for everyone, if you win the prizes can be quite good. Either cash prizes or cash equivalent prizes make a nice boost. If you win gear that you don't want or use you can always sell it! I've won some great stuff including an excellent condenser mic!

Plus, winning or being nominated for an award are great for your cv.

13. Awards & Funding

If you are lucky, you might live in a country that heavily supports the arts through funding, like Canada for example. Here there are local grants, province-wide grants and country-wide grants. There is also a not-for-profit company FACTOR that gives away money for developing your career and even making an album.

In addition there are ways to get funding on line like gofundme and Kickstarter

There are also other sites like Twitch and Patreon where you can build your fan base and develop funds through your music and performing. Remember to be patient with these endeavours, and think of the snowball effect. It goes slowly for a while then gathers momentum.

14. Regular singing slot

Getting a regular performing slot is yet another way to boost your income.

Performing at a local restaurant, bar coffee shop or hotel is great for you as an artist. It gets you regularly playing in front of a crowd and you can build a fan base at the same time. Plus, you never know who might just drop in for a drink or something to eat while you're playing.

15. Teaching

One of the best ways to learn about music is to teach it!

Why flip burgers for a minimum wage when you can teach for a lot more?

Plus it can be your way of giving back.

16. Start a blog

Why not blog about your journey as a musician.

You can then hold yourself accountable every week as to what you've achieved, or how you've felt and so on.

It could feel like writing a journal and that is an excellent thing to do as a musician anyway.

Put your blog up online in places like Pinterest and Medium

Again, it will take time to build your following so be patient and persistent.

17. Host an Open Mic

You could set up your own Open Mic and work out a deal with the management, like a cut of the door.

It's an excellent way to meet other musicians. You might find some great collaborators to work with both writing and performing. Plus they might know of other exciting projects you can get involved in.

Oh, and you can give yourself the best slot of the night!

18. Cruise ships

When you work on board a ship, all accommodation, food and even health care is free.

The contracts are normally 4-6 months. If all is going well you can get booked for another 4-6 months.

Often times, musicians do one contract have about 6 weeks off then start another contract.

This would give you time to record, rehearse, audition, showcase and perform on land in between cruises.

You would have a regular paycheck too! ( around 2K-3K USD/month).

For more information check out this link:,for%20what%20you%20can%20expect

19. Backup singers

Backup singers support lead vocalists with harmonies and extra vocal lines both live and in recording sessions.

They can also be known as:

  • Backing Singers

  • Backing vocalists

  • Session singers

  • Harmony vocalist

Many famous singers have started out as backing singers including:

  • Mariah Carey

  • John Legend

  • Sheryl Crow

  • Katy Perry

Being a backing vocalist is a different skill and it may not necessarily be for you. You need to be able to hold your own melodies, harmonies, colour your voice for different moods and sing powerfully when necessary, without overshadowing the lead vocalist.

However, if you can get in with a successful artist who tours a lot, you can get huge touring experience and make a lot of extremely useful contacts.

Also, often artists are loyal to their background vocalists and use the same ones at every performance, so you can end up making a lot of money.

20. Soundcloud

Soundcloud is a 'must place' to put your music. If you haven't already put your music there then I would get on that right away!

You can actually monetize on Soundcloud with a few criteria.

Follow this link to know more:

If you're clever, you will connect on-line stores and distributors to your Soundcloud :)

Excitingly enough, you will get more money per click on Soundcloud than you will from other DSP's like Spotify.

Watch the video here:


There are more ways to make money from your music. You could start your own music events, open your own music school, or even join online places like Fiverr where people can hire you to write lyrics and or music for a one off fee.

Whatever you do, remember you are a creative entrepreneur, and enjoy every moment.

Even the tough ones are learning curves. Learning about you as a musician and a person, learning about your fans, the music industry, and about how to run your own business as a freelance musician.

Hire a lawyer, pay your taxes, and the world's your oyster.

#songwriter #songwriting #singersongwriter #musician

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