Your Music Career in 2023: Make Money from Your Own Music

Production & Music Industry
Updated on
July 28, 2023
Written by
Unchained Music
Monetizing your music might seem challenging, but rest assured, it's achievable. Learn about how to make money as a musician in 2023.

Familiar to many is the narrative of the struggling musician, fighting to maintain financial stability. Monetizing your music might seem challenging, but rest assured, it's achievable. By expanding your skillset and exploring various revenue streams in the music industry, you'll discover a multitude of opportunities for generating income from your talent and expertise.

What are the primary income sources for musicians in 2023, you ask? Well, we have compiled a list of ten profitable channels that form the backbone of any successful artist's income.

Want to learn about how to promote your music? Check out this article.

  1. Revenue from Music Streaming Services
  2. Profit from Publishing and Live Performance Royalties
  3. Making Money from Merchandising
  4. Earning from Concerts & Tours
  5. Income from Physical Music Sales
  6. Earnings from Sync Licensing
  7. Revenue from Brand Partnerships
  8. Crowdfunding as a Revenue Source
  9. Profits from Music Libraries
  10. Music Lessons for Income

Revenue from Music Streaming Services

As we transition deeper into the digital age, revenue from music streaming has grown exponentially. Platforms such as Spotify, Apple Music, Pandora, and even your YouTube Channel offer subscription-based services that distribute revenue back to artists based on the number of plays their tracks receive. This model has allowed for a broader reach of music across the globe, giving artists a constant stream of income, albeit lesser per stream, making the release volume of your own releases a critical factor.

How to Leverage Music Streaming for Your Music Career

First, you'll need to record and produce your music to a professional standard, including potentially creating music videos for your work. Next, partner with a music distribution service like Unchained Music that can get your music on various streaming platforms like Spotify, Apple Music, and Pandora. Ensure that you promote your music to attract listeners and increase streams. Remember to register your works with a performing rights organization to collect royalties.

Profit from Publishing and Live Performance Royalties

Music publishing and live performance royalties represents another significant income source for musicians. This entails the commercial exploitation of songs through the collection of royalties for various uses of copyrighted music, like usage in radio, television, movies, or when your music is played in public. While a record label will generally work with a publisher, who then in turn collects and distributes these royalties to the songwriter, often after taking a percentage cut, while the performing rights organization ends up collecting live performance royalties from live music. It's a great way to make money without having to do a lot more work.

How to Claim Publishing Royalties

Begin by writing or co-writing songs. Then, establish a contract with a music publishing company that will manage, promote, and license your music. To optimize income, consider joining performance rights organizations like ASCAP or BMI, which track and collect royalties for your music. Remember that anytime you sell music online or earn money from streaming, there are both mechanical royalties and public performance royalties that you could potentially collect.

Making Money from Merchandising

Merchandising extends the fan experience beyond the music and often represents a major revenue stream for artists, especially when automated on their own website. From t-shirts to posters, hats, and even unique items posted on your own website, fans are always eager to acquire merchandise that connects them to their favorite artists. These physical items often carry a much higher profit margin than music sales, making merchandising an essential part of an artist's revenue model.

How to Make Money by Selling to Your Music Fans

Start by identifying what products would resonate most with your fanbase. This could range from t-shirts to posters, vinyl records, or unique, limited-edition items. Next, find a reliable supplier or manufacturer, and set up an online store. Promote your merchandise at concerts, through social media, and your official website.

Earning from Concerts & Tours

For many artists, live performances such as concerts and tours generate the largest portion of their income. Tickets to live performances can command high prices, especially for well-established artists, but even a living room concert featuring live music can be profitable in the right circumstances. Moreover, tours also provide an opportunity for increased merchandising sales. Even with the advent of digital music, the in-person concert experience is irreplaceable, making it a lucrative revenue stream.

How to Drive Music Fans to Your Gigs

To make money from concerts and tours, you first need to create a solid setlist of music and rehearse it to perfection. Then, either independently or with the help of a booking agent, schedule performances at venues that suit your fanbase. Promote your concerts or tours through social media, your website, and local media by creating content leading up to the performances and throughout your tour. Behind the scenes content works well in the music industry, as does clips of your shows, and any other way you can honestly connect with your fans on a personal level.

Income from Physical Music Sales

Even in a world dominated by digital music streaming, there's still a significant market for physical music sales. Vinyl records, for example, have seen a resurgence in popularity in recent years. Collectors and audiophiles alike continue to value physical music mediums for their tactile nature and audio quality, allowing artists to tap into this niche market for additional income.

Selling CDs or Vinyls to Earn Money

Start by creating high-quality, attractive physical copies of your music, such as CDs or vinyl records. Then, make these available for sale at your concerts, through your website, and possibly through local or independent music stores. Market these physical products as unique keepsakes or collector's items to encourage sales. If you're able to sell cds to earn money, and set them up in an online store so you don't have to manage inventory, even better!

Earnings from Sync Licensing

Sync licensing is a process where a copyright holder grants a license to synchronize music with some kind of visual media output like films, TV shows, advertisements, video games, etc. When an artist's song is synced, they receive a fee, and potentially royalties based on the viewership of the media their music accompanies. This can be a significant revenue source, particularly when music is placed in high-profile media.

Music Production Skills are Essential

Firstly, write and produce high-quality, licensable music. Then, submit your music to sync licensing agencies who can pitch your music for usage in TV shows, films, advertisements, or video games. Be sure to register your works with a performing rights organization to ensure you receive all owed royalties.

Revenue from Brand Partnerships

Musicians can also earn revenue through brand partnerships. These collaborations can range from the artist promoting a product through their music video, social media or even developing a product line. Brands often pay handsomely for these partnerships as they can leverage the artist's image and fanbase for increased visibility and sales.

Authentic and Behind the Scenes Content Works Well

Develop a strong brand and audience as an artist. Then, find brands whose products or services align with your image and values, and propose a partnership. This could be as simple as sponsored social media posts, or more complex like co-branded products or tour sponsorships. Remember that the more you can legitimately connect with your audience on a personal level, rather than trying to sell them something, the better received a brand partnership will be.

Crowdfunding as a Revenue Source

Crowdfunding platforms like Kickstarter or Patreon provide a direct avenue for fans to fund an artist's work. This could be for specific projects, such as recording a new album or going on tour, or on an ongoing basis to support the artist's overall career. With this model, artists can generate funds upfront, reducing financial risk and fostering a close relationship with their fan base.

Music Videos and New Albums are a Good Target

Establish a solid fanbase and decide on a project you'd like them to fund (e.g., a new album, a music video, music production for a new album, live tour, etc). Then, create a compelling campaign on a crowdfunding platform like Kickstarter or Patreon. Be sure to offer enticing rewards to donors to incentivize their contribution.

Profits from Music Libraries

Music libraries, or production music libraries, are essentially catalogues of tracks that filmmakers, advertisers, and game developers can license for their projects. For a musician, contributing to such libraries can yield passive income over time. Each time a track is licensed, the artist receives a portion of the fees.

Composing Music for Music Companies

Write and produce music suitable for background or theme music. Then, submit these to music libraries or platforms, who sell your music to customers needing music for their projects, such as YouTube videos, podcasts, or indie films.

Music Lessons for Income

Apart from creating and performing music, many musicians supplement their music career by teaching. This could take the form of private lessons, online courses, or workshops. The digital age has made it easier for musicians to reach students globally, and while you may not be performing your own music, you'll be adding a stable revenue stream while also allowing sharing your knowledge and passion for music with your students.

How to Start Online Music Lessons

Master your instrument or music theory well enough to instruct others in the art of performing, or how to read sheet music. Then, decide on a teaching format (e.g., one-on-one lessons, group classes, online tutorials), and advertise your services. You can offer lessons in-person or online through platforms like TakeLessons or even on your YouTube channel. Don't think that teaching is beneath you! More musicians than you know in the music industry teach as supplemental income.

Go and Make Money, Musician!

Overall, here are numerous avenues for generating income in the music industry, each with its own unique steps and processes. Whether you're monetizing your music through streaming platforms, creating a steady stream of income through music publishing, or diversifying your revenue streams through merchandise sales, live performances, or teaching, it's clear that a successful career in music involves much more than just creating great songs. It's about strategizing, marketing, and often diversifying to ensure a steady income. As an artist, understanding these different income streams and taking advantage of them can be instrumental in turning your passion for music into a sustainable and profitable career.




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