Making money with music is no small task.
Waiting for one of your tracks to blow up isn’t a great plan, and even if your audience grows you’ll still have to find ways to earn money from them.
We’re not going to sit here and tell you the obvious ways that most musicians earn money with their musical skills.
You already know that teaching, touring, and online streaming is the main starting point for earning money.
Instead, let’s talk about some of the more unconventional ways out there for making money with your musical skills.
Here’s how to make money from music with eight creative ideas you might not have considered yet.
1. Sell your samples royalty free
If you make a lot of music, you probably have a library of unfinished sounds and tracks that never got put to any use.
One way to make use of these unused stems is by turning them into a royalty-free sample pack.
There’s countless producers out there that will pay for quality samples available for use in their own productions.
All you have to do is compile a pack of 100 or so samples and put it up for sale, either through your own website or with a sample marketplace.
It’s a great way to turn all those leftover sessions into something valuable for someone else.
2. Freelance recording, mixing, and mastering
Are you well versed in recording, mixing, or mastering?
That’s special knowledge that many producers don’t have.
If you have the time and expertise to work on someone else’s project, you should consider finding freelance work as an audio engineer.
LANDR Network offers professional artists the opportunity to sell their skills online.
You just have to get approved to create a profile, and you’ll start getting freelance job requests sent your way in no time!
LANDR Network takes care of everything around payments and it makes it simple to share your finished work or receive feedback.
While it takes a lot of hands-on experience to gain these skills, if you are a skilled producer of your own music, you will bring a lot of value to someone else’s project.
3. Freelance session work
Are you advanced in a particular instrument? If you play drums, guitar, piano, dobro, or whatever instrument, you should consider doing session musician work.
With the internet, you don’t necessarily have to put up pull-tab posters or hang around at jazz bars or recording studios to find session work anymore.
Instead, create a profile on a music networking website like LANDR Network that connects producers with paid work for professional musicians.
It’s an excellent way to pick up extra paid gigs, you just need to know how to record your own stems and send them back to the producer.
Online session work is the perfect way to easily turn your skills into extra money.
4. Creative merchandising
If you have a loyal following, it’s a good idea to find extra ways to entice them with cool merch.
Sure, your CDs, vinyl and cassettes are one thing, but what about other kinds of merch?
Many artists I know make more than just music, they’re multidisciplinary by nature.
So if you have photography skills sell a photo book that you put together.
If you have writing skills, sell your poems and writings.
If you have fashion design skills, create branded clothing.
Whenever you have an audience, you have a group of people who are willing to buy your stuff.
Take advantage of skills and get creative with your merch.
5. Sell your presets
Similar to a sample pack, you can always sell your synth presets if you have a particular sound and some sound design skills.
Crafting unique and cool sounds in a synth VST like Massive or FM8 isn’t easy for everyone.
If you have a selection of cool presets that no-one else knows how to make, you can sell these presets.
All you have to do is create a pack of presets and sell them through a website like Patreon or anything similar.
Speaking of Patreon…
6. Start a Patreon
Patreon is a really cool website that’s keeping creatives busy.
It’s essentially a subscription service for your art!
Patreon is great because it allows you to offer a wide range of content, from downloadable samples and presets to exclusive streams of your music, tutorials or podcasts.
You can create subscription tiers that offer different levels of access to your content too.
All you have to do is continue creating content for your followers.
If you have a sizable following, you likely have some dedicated fans who would love to keep up with your work and support you via Patreon.
Come up with a content plan and start your Patreon account!
7. License your music
Licensing is a huge way artists get paid.
It’s not just about big ad deals or movie placements either, there are tons of smaller licensing placements out there for you to take advantage of.
Whether it be background music on an MTV reality show or an ambient track for a corporate video, any time music is used in this kind of media an artist gets paid.
There are two routes you can take with finding licensing opportunities, you can either find a publisher who’s willing to work with you, or find opportunities with a roll call aggregator.
Roll call aggregators send out briefs from big publishers and review submissions from artists.
If a track you submit passes the aggregator’s music screeners you will be considered for usage.
But when you work with a roll call aggregator, it’s harder to build long-lasting relationships with big publishers and it’s difficult to actually get a placement.
If you find your own publisher to work with, they’ll actively work with you and help you write tracks in the required style.
Working directly with a publisher is a much better option since you’ll have a direct relationship with the people who actually use your music.
However, finding a good publisher can initially be very difficult, you’ll need to already be established as a music producer to catch their attention.
So, if you can’t find a publisher, a roll call aggregator is a great option.
8. Make online tutorials
Another option is to create a YouTube persona and start making tutorials around a particular area of expertise you have in music.
There’s a bit of a learning curve when it comes to scripting and video production, but YouTube is a great way to connect with a wider audience.
Plus, if your channel grows there’s many ways to make money with it.
Our best advice is to make content around a specific niche, you can’t go for the big topics right away.
Don’t be afraid to cross-promote your channel through your other social media accounts either, your fans are likely interested in the content you put out anywhere.
Making money with music is really hard
But it’s not impossible.
Today, there’s no one way to do it.
If you piece together a few different ways of making money, you’ll be that much closer to pulling in a good and livable income.
Making good music takes both dedication and creativity. So, apply some of your creative energy to how you earn money!