Being a musician is, more often than not, a thankless job. You put out amazing music for the world to hear and enjoy, but you hardly ever get more than an enthusiastic thanks. And sure, the recognition is great, and nothing beats the feeling of creating a song that you’re proud of. The thing is that recognition and pride don’t exactly pay the bills.
Every musician needs to figure out how to make a profit. Some might say that it’s just too hard to do so in the music industry unless you’re signed by a label. The reality is that yes, it’s really hard and it takes a lot of hard work, but you don’t need a record label to make a living as a musician. Here are some ideas to pay rent while doing what you love.
Get on Distribution Platforms
The streaming era has made everything a bit weird when it comes to selling music. Newcomers aren’t really making that much money from record sales. Even established acts are getting more of their profits through live concerts and side gigs.
This is mainly why you should be waiting around to drop a record so that you can make money. But you can do instead is get on all of the main distribution platforms (as in Spotify, iTunes and YouTube). You won’t be able to live off of the royalties but it’s a start. Plus, it will help with growing your audience, streaming services are great at recommending new music to their users all the time. If you play your cards right, you can even set up a Patreon profile and offer different songs and merch for donations.
Join the Gig Economy
This isn’t exactly exciting but it’s a great way to keep the money flowing. Join the gig industry. What we mean by this is that you can do odd music related jobs, there’s a lot of jobs out there that require musicians. You can get into advertising or try the film industry. You can also consider becoming a session musician and working with different artists either in a recording studio or a tour. There are even jobs creating ringtones.
Know how elevators always have background music playing? Well, someone has to record those songs. It’s not the most exciting job as a musician, but it can help you make ends meet. There’s also learning videos that require background music and the pay isn’t exactly bad.
Play Covers for Events
Some musicians tend to look down on cover bands, but when all is said and done, cover bands can bring in a lot of money. Especially if they find a niche. Though you won’t be paid for your own original songs, if you’re good, you’ll get lots of gigs.
The trick is in advertising yourself as a wedding, birthday or graduation band. You can even expand to play Bar Mitzvahs or Quinceañeras, literally anything you want. Study the market and figure out how you can fit into it. Once you have a few gigs under your belt, you can rely on word of mouth
Write for Others
If you’re a great songwriter, you can profit by selling your songs to other artists that are having a little more luck than you. Though you won’t be the face associated with your songs, you’ll get your music out there and eventually, you can make a name for yourself.