Skip to main content

Music Industry Insider: 50 Ways to Make Money as a Musician

English: Musician in Viru tunnel

50 Ways to Make Money as a Musician

Want to have a musical career but not sure how to make money as a musician in today's market? Well, first you need to redefine your goals as a musician and realize that like any job, being a musician involves a lot of work, perseverance, and talent. And in today's Digital Age, you need to be able to combine your skills to help you make a living as a musician. You will probably need to select at least a dozen forms of income and micro-incomes in order to make a full time living as a musician or choose a primary steady gig and add on other projects (what most musicians have done for centuries). 

Each method of making money has a $, $$, $$$ or S for work that will make you a little pocket money ($), possibly significant money - hundreds to thousands ($$), at least part time or possible full time work ($$$), or is steady work (S). Notice that none of these options involve making millions of dollars so you can drive around in a diamond-crusted limo wearing your favorite meat dress of the day. The amount you make also depends on your talent and skills. For example, someone that can do convincing voiceovers and jingles may be more marketable than a bassoonist.


These are practical ways to make money for the realistic musician. 

And yes, you can make millions, or even six figures, as a musician, but musicians in general hover around the lower end of the pay spectrum. So think more like your high school band director pay ($25-45K a year) and less Lady Gaga pay. And if the prospect of making only as much as your band director turns you off to music, then you probably are better off getting a business degree anyway. Just sayin'.

  1. Write music for companies as a freelancer using sites like Elance.com ($$)
  2. Write scores for indie filmmakers ($)
  3. Sell albums locally in coffee shops ($)
  4. Production crew for large stage productions ($$)
  5. Sell jingles to companies ($$)
  6. Teach chorus ($$$) S
  7. Teach band ($$$) S
  8. Teach elementary music ($$$) S
  9. Teach private lessons ($$)
  10. Write articles or ebooks about music ($$) 
  11. Work as a mastering engineer ($$$)
  12. Vlog about music ($)
  13. Do voice overs ($$$) - Yep, this is a BIG market if you have the sound skills
  14. Set up microgigs on Fiverr.com and similar sites ($)
  15. Spotify and streaming radio ($)
  16. Licensing music to big name films/TV/commercials ($$$)
  17. Licensing music to mega music publisher/library (ex. Rumblefish) ($)
  18. Licensing music with a publisher ($)
  19. Work as a recording artist ($$$)
  20. Work as a songwriter ($$)
  21. Wedding singer or band member ($$)
  22. Professional audio engineer ($$$)
  23. Church choir director ($$$)
  24. Part Time Choir director ($$)
  25. Cruise ship musician ($$$)
  26. Gigging with a band ($$)
  27. Street performer ($)
  28. Working for an arts non-profit ($$)
  29. Working as a freelance music teacher ($$$)
  30. Working for a museum as an arts instructor or docent ($$$)
  31. Sell band music arrangements or publish music ($$)
  32. Circus musician ($$$)
  33. Set up your own non-profit ($$)
  34. Work as an audio tech for a theme park ($$$)
  35. Work as an audio tech for a large business ($$$)
  36. Work as an audio tech (paid) for a large church ($$$)
  37. Military band member ($$$) S
  38. Acting/Modeling ($$)
  39. Commissions and Grants ($$)
  40. Artist-in-Residence Program ($$)
  41. Adjunct music professor ($$$)
  42. Full time music professor ($$$) S
  43. Freelance Work in Multimedia and Audiovisual Production ($$)
  44. Sell original albums ($)
  45. Create original ringtones and audio for big name companies ($$$)
  46. Sell music libraries ($$)
  47. Sell loops, beats, audio, sound fx, foley ($$)
  48. Foley Artist for large companies or film production ($$$)
  49. Professional orchestra/choral musician in small ensemble ($$)
  50. Professional orchestra/choral musician in large professional ensemble ($$$)
Of course, many of the smaller ways to make money can end up being your niche and ticket to musical and financial success. So expand your musical horizons and find new ways to earn money as a musician.

Have I missed anything? How do YOU make money as a musician? Share a link to your artist website and music services in the comments below! 

----

Composer Sabrina Pena Young writes mind-numbing electronic experimental music, including her groundbreaking opera Libertaria: The Virtual Opera, an animated sci-fi opera produced entirely online. Young will be speaking about Libertaria at the upcoming TedX Buffalo conference in New York.


Comments

Blogger said…
Find out how THOUSAND of people like YOU are making a LIVING online and are fulfilling their dreams TODAY.

Get daily ideas and methods for making $1,000s per day ONLINE for FREE.

JOIN TODAY
Blogger said…
Get daily ideas and instructions for making $1,000s per day ONLINE totally FREE.
CLICK HERE TO FIND OUT
Unknown said…
Making Money in Music! This book will show you how - with sections on all the ways a modern musician can make money, without being a star.
Stephanie said…
Hi all, I hope you guys can check out my site. I wrote different instrument review and other musical information like understanding musical notes.
Here is a sample of what I wrote, this is about the piano keyboard layout.https://musicadvisor.com/piano-keyboard-layout/

Either way, thanks so much for your hard work!

Cheers,
Stephanie
Nina Athena said…
Thank you for sharing your thoughts and knowledge on this topic. This is really helpful and informative. I would love to see more updates from you.

Live Music Venue Melbourne

Popular posts from this blog

Top 10 Mistakes When Writing for Percussion

Top 10 Mistakes When Writing for Percussionby Sabrina Young
10. Indicating the wrong mallets for an instrument.Brass mallets on vibes? Try a hammer on a violin!


9. Writing the glockenspiel part as heard.You shouldn't have to climb a ladder of leger lines to read a glock part. Keep it in the staff.

8. When in doubt, adding more suspended cymbal.This is a huge mistake made by arrangers. Yep, cymbals add automatic intensity to a piece, but so can a bass drum roll, a rousing hand drum part, exciting mallet licks, or a hundred other combinations. Well-written percussion parts stand out in the band and church repertoire.



7. Better means more complicated, right?This is my main mistake. A percussion part can be simple enough for a middle school, but it is the ability to use the different tone colors of the percussion palette properly that indicates a maturity in writing, not that impossible part for the timpanist that has them playing timpani, gong, crash cymbals, and triangle in the span of…

Women in Multimedia and New Music bios, unedited

INSTRUCTIONS: Use your computers "FIND" feature to locate artist names in this document.

This is a short BIO list I made for my thesis "The Feminine Musique: Multimedia and Women Today" in 2005. It is a shortlist of bio info on composers and artists involved in interdisciplinary media work, with an emphasis on new music. References to specific web pages are given. The thesis can be checked out through interlibrary loan at Florida International University. I plan to post most of the information of my thesis online in time.

Rebecca Allen

http://www.aec.at/de/archiv_files/19991/1999_440.pdf
Rebecca Allen (USA) is an internationally recognized media artist, inspired by the potential of advanced technology. Central to her work is the study of motion as a form of communication and creative expression. Allen has produced a number of commissioned works in Europe and the U.S. including computer animated films, interactive installations and large-scale multimedia performances. H…

The Real Composer Behind the Saturday Night Live What's Poppin Jazz Scat Video

Composer Janice Misurell-Mitchell is the Secret Inspiration Behind the SNL Skit Saturday Night Live lovers, who typically no longer watch Saturday Night Live on Saturday but
actually wait until Monday when it pops up on Hulu, enjoyed a rare hilarious bit from the "What's Poppin" skit, featuring a few, uhm, lets say non-traditional "hip hop" artists scatting away. Within a few minutes it's pretty clear that the performing musicians aren't what you would call mainstream hip hop artists, wearing strangely coordinated wardrobes and sporting a hip hop flute.



Watch the original Saturday Night Live Video.

Composer Janice Misurell-Mitchell is the inspiration behind this hilarious take on hip hop. 

You can watch the original version of Scat/Rap Counterpoint here, starring Misurell-Mitchell:

According to the composer:


"Scat/Rap Counterpoint presents various views of the dilemma in which American artists find themselves when they try to relate their work to their…