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EDUCATION BLOG

How to make money right now in the music industry

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Written by: Matt Lillywhite


Within the music industry, it’s very common for people to aspire to create a full-time income for themselves. After all, if they don’t have to work a day job, they thus can focus every waking minute of their time on their music career. During this article, we’re going to discuss some practical ways in which you can develop a sustainable income from the music industry, and how to actually go about doing it.


Firstly, selling your music has proven to be a lucrative business model for a lot of people within the music industry over the past few decades. With many opportunities such as iTunes, Beatport, and other revenue streams, there is a multitude of ways in which people can purchase your tracks. Or alternatively, you could go old-school and sell your new EP/album in the streets of your local city. Instead of stopping people in the street (which is likely to get a lot of rejections), consider putting on a free event to attract a massive crowd in the middle of the city, and have a team of people ready to sell CDs, and other products to the public.


Another great revenue stream for artists looking to generate a full-time income from their career is by starting a website. Using platforms such as Wx or Shopify, they can sell merchandise, production courses etc that could easily bring in thousands of dollars every month if executed properly. A good way to go about doing this is by getting a supplier that prints merchandise (such as t-shirts) on an order-by-order basis to reduce the general overhead cost of manufacturing.


Often overlooked, YouTube channels are an incredible way of generating revenue within the music industry. Of course, the monetization revenue in itself isn’t amazing if you have a small audience. However, by having a detailed knowledge of the algorithm, it’s still more than possible to build an audience of several hundred thousand subscribers (if the content is good). With a regular release of content, it is probable that you’d be able to generate several hundred dollars in revenue per month. That, accompanied by multiple other revenue streams would definitely provide a very lucrative income for anybody willing to work hard for their dreams.


One of the most common forms of generating income within the music industry is streaming. Including the likes of Spotify, Amazon, Apple Music etc, it’s undoubtedly one of the most modern ways that literally anybody within the music industry can generate revenue from. Despite there being a multitude of ways to generate plays on the platforms (including Facebook ads), the most common method is via placements from editorial placements. Despite there being many ways to submit music, the best method is always via direct contacts & relationships – as they will hopefully have already fallen in love with your artistic brand.


As well as streaming, live music performances & tours are an extremely lucrative method of generating income. If you have an established fanbase, it is now easier than over to organize tours, shows, and make money from your music. Although a lot of DJs normally get a few hundred dollars if they are relatively unknown, many struggle with getting to the next stage. Promoters often look at social stats, blog features, and also the success of previous tracks & audience demographics to see if you’d be a good fit for the venue. The more people you can attract, the higher the fee you can command. So in order to make a substantial amount of money from every show, consider running a lot of Facebook ads within your target location to grow your audience there. After all, you want them to attend your shows. For example, if you want to play shows in Europe, you could run ads against people who love EDM that live within a 30-mile radius of the capital cities.


Another incredible way to generate money from your music career is by producing beats for people within the music scene. Despite the negative stigma around ghost production, it could prove beneficial to your career. Many rappers & singers within the industry are constantly looking for new instrumentals to record their vocals over. If you have an established artist brand and collaborate with people that also have a reputable following, it will easily allow you to charge several hundred/thousand dollars for every production that you sell to other artists. In order to do this feasibly, it’s admittedly a numbers game: emailing/messaging dozens of artists seeing if they’d be interested in a production.


Finally, there is the option of licensing your music towards brands, film studios, and many other entities around the world. Every single movie, tv show licenses music for their soundtracks so that they can enhance the product being released. For example, Marshmello was commissioned in the soundtrack for the Netflix film “Bright” with Will Smith. Due to these entities (often) having extremely large budgets of several thousand dollars, it’s certainly an incredible opportunity to generate a sustainable income from your music. But due to competition for these sync placements being extremely high, it certainly helps to have a great network of contacts in the necessary industries.


Despite what many people may believe, it certainly is possible to generate a sustainable income around your music career. Despite sales being much lower than recorded levels several years ago, the internet has opened up so many opportunities to create dozens of revenue streams for pretty much any person willing to work hard and pursue their dreams within the music industry.


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