10 Revenue Streams Musicians and Producers Can Use to Make Money


Most musicians and producers have a financial goal they are striving to achieve, but not everyone is shooting for multi-millionaire status. Some just want to be able to finance an album or quit their day job. Everybody's goals are different but to reach them you have to figure out a way to have income coming in. The nice thing about the new music industry, is there are many options available to you if you know how to use them.

This is such a great time to be in music. There are so many revenue streams musicians and producers can use. The key is to diversify them and have as many going at one time as possible. If sales go down in one stream, it might go up in another, or you could gain two solid streams.

If the only thing you are focusing on is iTunes sales and they don't come, you are totally screwed. On the other hand if you have 10 different revenue streams going and iTunes sales are just a piece of a bigger puzzle. Stop using the traditional label model of thinking where record sales are all that count. This is not the 90's. You have a lot more options then that.

Here is a list of 10 revenue streams musicians and producers can tap to make money to finance their musical goals.

#1 License Your Music 
This is a very important revenue stream and could potentially bring in a large amount of extra money. When people need music for a commercial project, they pay a license to use the music in their content. Think background music in a tv show, video game, film, radio, ads, ect.

There are two types of music for licensing purposes. The first type goes by many names. Commercial music, production music, stock music, ect. This music is typically instrumental music created specifically for syncing to visuals and media. The more useful it is, the better it is for licensing

The other type of music is entertainment music. As the name suggests, it's what you typically think of when you think of music. This music can also be licensed to television, films, advertising, games but isn't necessarily geared to it.

Generally speaking it is a music publishers job to handle sync placements and licensing deals. I would highly suggest if you are making entertainment music to find an exclusive publisher, specializing in your genre, and let them handle licensing your music. The main reason is they have the connections, they know exactly what they are doing, some pay you an advance and you will have more success getting higher paying placements.

If you can't find an exclusive publisher, or are having difficulty signing with one, you can self publish your music. Here are two DIY Licensing tools to make your music available for licensing today.


Now if you wanted to focus on commercial music, there are a ton of companies you can work. Some are non-exclusive others are exclusive. One of the best non-exclusive marketplaces is Pond5. They are artist friendly, you set the price of your music, and they get a ton of traffic from media creators because they many types of media assets. There are tons of these music libraries for commercial music out there. Below are the submission pages to the major commercial music libraries, and a website where they are rated by how successful they are at licensing music.


With music licensing you get paid twice if its for a broadcast use. When your music is sold through a music library or publisher, this upfront payment is called a sync fee. That money is for the rights to use your music in the commercial project. If you are not affiliated with a Performance Rights Organization you will only ever get sync fee's, and you'll miss your opportunity for another revenue stream. Performance Royalties.

#2 Collect Back End Royalties
Whenever your music makes it's way to television and other broadcast mediums, by law, you get performance royalties. These royalties are paid by the broadcast networks to the Performance Rights Organizations, and then are distributed to you quarterly. If your music is on television and you are not associated with a PRO, you will never see that money.

To get a better idea how Performance Rights Organizations work and how to collect back end money: Performance Rights Organizations: How PRO's Work to Help Musicians Get Paid

#3 Join Sound Exchange
This is similar to a PRO but they collect digital royalties on your behalf. So when your music is streamed online you can get paid twice too. Take Pandora for example. You get paid your stream rate but since they are non-interactive webcaster (a service where users don't pick the song) you're also able to collect performance royalties from Sound Exchange.

#4 Physical and Digital Distribution 
This is kind of obvious but to get your music out there easily you can go with companies like TuneCore, CDBaby, Distrokid and many more. They get your music in all the music spots online and they all have their pro's and con's. Many of these distributors also have physical distribution deals you can opt into as well. Do your own research and find what company works best for you.

*AMAdea is by far the best deal I've found, and who I use. It costs nothing for them to distribute your music, the distribute to all the right places, it's non-exclusive, and you keep 90% of the sales.

#5 Playing Gigs and Touring 
Playing gigs and touring can be pretty expensive actually, so make sure that you are playing venues that make sense. Show guarantees, door split deals and donations are all ways to get paid playing live but it's also a great opportunity to sell merchandise.

#6 Merchandise
This is another area you can tap that helps you diversify your income, especially if your touring and playing live. The merch table is a pretty standard way to sell t-shirts, posters, hoodies, and all sorts of memorabilia. You don't have to limit yourself to physical merchandise sales though.

It's pretty easy to sell merchandise online through DizzyJam, and doesn't require you to buy physical inventory. If you've done a good job working on an online presence, virtual merchandise sales can be a lucrative way to earn some extra money that requires none of your time once it's setup.

#7 Affiliate/Advertising
If you have the ability to draw a crowd physically or virtually, you have value to businesses and advertisers. You could go the endorsement/sponsorship route if you had a big enough following but you could just as easily get paid to wear a t-shirt.

Advertisers need eyes and ears to sell their crap. You can get paid to tweet if you have enough followers or you could do brand endorsements for products you like and use affiliate links to drive traffic to their online stores.

#8 Session Work/Ghost Writing  
Studios and Producers always are looking for solid players that can knock out some material. If you live in an area with studios, drop in and see what their policy is on session work. If you have the ability to record quality stems, you can also offer you expertise virtually. You can easily setup a gig on Fiverr, offering session work and start doing that today.

I don't think it's a big secret either that a lot of DJ's out their use ghost producers for tracks. There are many places out their to work as a ghost but one to get you started is: EDM Ghost Producer

#9 Compete in Contests
There are a ton of music contests that give out cash and prizes. I am not talking American Idol, but you can always compete in re-mixing, mixing, song writing, lyrics, ect. A quick google search can start showing you what type of contests are available out there.

Indaba Music constantly has remix contests going on, a lot of times with cash prizes of $300, $500 and $1000. 

#10 Teaching Lessons/Tutorials
If you have patience and the time to teach lessons in the real world, then put an ad in your local paper or craigslist and make some extra cash teaching music lessons. There will always be people that want to learn music from someone that is good, but just make sure to have a game plan for the lessons.

If you don't have patience, that's fine too. You can easily teach people through YouTube by doing virtual lessons or tutorials. The problem is you're going to have to figure out how to make some money from that because monetized YouTube videos pay like shit. On the bright side though, they are great for marketing and can definitely help getting people interested in you and your music.

This list is by no means complete. There are many creative ways to make money with music or as a musician/producer but you have to think outside the box. If you have a following, you can get paid. If you don't have a following, then work on developing one. If you aren't into any of that shit, then focus on being a ghost. The point is the technology is available to do anything with music that you want, and there is literally nothing stopping you from doing it.

Thanks for reading. Please feel free to share, like, and comment below.

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