Maybe when you compare yourself to other artists you feel that deep down, you’re a whole lot better. You’d like to make money from your music. Can you?
I’m Victor Bailey and I live in Philadelphia. My friends tell me I’m a pretty good musician. I play the bass guitar and have my own home studio, so I reckon I do know quite a bit about the music industry.
I got to thinking about making money from something you love. This is something that most musicians will understand and have investigated before.
At some point most musicians will think to themselves that they can do better than another person and maybe even make money from it. But can you? Is it possible to make a career from music?
Unfortunately, it is a well-known thing that music records sales are dying. In fact, unless you are a record collector, when was the last time you bought a record? Do you even still own a record player? Not many people these days have one of these antiquated devices.
Between 1999 and 2011 the sales of records dropped by 65% with the amount that people spent on music dropping dramatically. People still listen to music, but there are other systems on the market now. Just look at how many friends are hooked up to their mobile phones, listening to music.
There are many ways to get yourself into the limelight, but not all of them may work for you. To begin with, you may know you are good but simply lack the self-confidence to get yourself in front of people. Start off small and in front of fewer people, and take a look at some these ideas.
What are the pros and cons?
To anything in life there are pros and cons and making money from your music is no different. Working for your self will be stressful. There may be times when you simply don’t make money because it’s raining and there are no people about. People are on holiday – somewhere else. The bars are quiet and don’t need you – and the list could go on. If you get ill, you may not make any money. For a singer, having a cold and losing your voice is not a good place to find yourself.
The pros of working for yourself are many, in fact they far outweigh the cons. First off, you work for yourself. Not many people are that lucky. You – and no one else – has the final say. If you really don’t enjoy doing one thing, then you get to change direction and try something else.
You can decide just how much you want to work. If you don’t want to work on Sundays, then that’s your choice. On the other hand, if you want to work seven days a week, then you can advertise this and take business.
If you prefer working with adults, then you can do so. You don’t need to work with people you are not happy with – it’s all about what you like and how you want to make money.
Here are 18 solid strategies to make money as a musician:
1. Think children
Any time you can work with children will be a great way to start as they are always forgiving – more so than adults. Make a joke of any mistakes and they will laugh with you. Before you know it, you’ll be a hit at children’s parties and word will get around that you are the person to book.
2. Make use of the internet
uTube is a great way to get your music out there. It’s also free, just takes a little time to get started but once you have a song up there and have some followers you start to increase your traffic. Monetizing your videos on the internet will soon start to bring in extra income.
Becoming known online is also a way to get yourself discovered. Remember that celebrities like Justin Bieber were first discovered online, so it can be done.
Make sure to read my guide on Instagram for musicians for more tips and ideas.
Everyone loves to be the first to have something, so once you have a good song, make some copies. Sign them personally with a short note and sell for a few dollars. Word will get around that you provide friend with first copies of your music.
Take advantage of book shops to hold a signing of your music. Many of them will be pleased for the publicity that you bring to their store and be glad to have you there, bringing them customers.
4. Consider karaoke
Many venues advertise for a karaoke host. While you may not get paid a fortune for doing this, it is a great way to get yourself out there and seen. You may need to bring your own equipment, but it is an opportunity to show that you can sing.
5. Think bars
You will agree that many singers have their origins in bars. This is where they can say they were first discovered. Take any venue you can in the beginning but bear in mind that Monday and Tuesday nights are quiet so you will more than likely be able to perform frequently on these nights because other performers opt for the other nights.
Once you have proved yourself, you’ll find that other bars ask you to sing on the more popular nights at better rates of pay.
6. Don’t forget about busking
While this can be a hard way to make money because you will be out there in all sorts of weather, it is a good way to get yourself seen and known.
Singing as a double act may bring in extra money, of which you get half. It’s not a bad way to get your practise and build your self-confidence.
7. Think about churches
Believe it or not, some churches pay people to sing in them. Often singers are needed at weddings and funerals. This is your opportunity to be seen and heard, and to hand out your business card to prospective clients.
Checking in the Church of Music of America you will find that some singers get paid between $50 and $100 to sing at a special event.
8. Do weddings
Place an advert to play and sing at weddings. The average pay for performing at a wedding is about $2000 although the bigger the wedding the more you may be paid. Additionally, this is the perfect opportunity to have out your business cards and get additional venues.
9. Find a band
Most areas have local bands who perform at events. Place yourself on their stand-in list. People get ill and sometimes they need replacements at short notice. If you are available, this could lead to a more permanent position.
Alternatively, form your own band. Some of your own friends may be able to sing or play an instrument. Join up and see what you can come up with.
10. Find events
Place an advert in the local newspaper. Look for events such as art fairs and festivals. Sometimes companies need performers at Christmas parties.
Bars and restaurants also sometimes need singers at special times of year such as Valentines evenings and Easter.
Also, if you want to land event gigs consistently, you should consider how to promote your music more effectively.
11. Think about song contests
There are international song contests where the prizes are huge! Try your hand at one of them, there is not that much to lose, and it does get people talking about you and your group.
Song contests normally have several categories so you may be able to enter in more than one. Having a group is also a good way to get yourself known. Even if you don’t win, you still get seen.
12. Become a teacher
If you can play an instrument, then why not teach it? Advertise in schools in your district and in local newspapers. You could either travel to the student’s house or have them come to you. Either way, this is a good way to get paid for doing what you love.
If you are confident enough, apply for a post as music teacher at a local school. Who knows, you just may be hired!
13. Think about being a DJ
This way you can be sure of getting paid for your work. Depending on where you work, you may have the opportunity to play some of your own songs, but you will be earning money and may be able to sell yourself there.
Here is an example of a successful DJ presence online: tunemixer.co.uk.
14. Take it to the streets
While this may not be the most glamorous way, it has been shown that peddlers can easily sell about 30 CDs each day. If you keep the price in the middle of the range, you could earn a neat amount each day.
Selling on the street means people will start to recognise you, and then look for you for additional CDs.
Make sure you know the rules for selling on the streets, it’s not a good idea to do this unless you are sure you won’t be picked up, so check if you need a license to sell while walking around.
This way is very popular in places like Spain where visitors are often confronted with people selling all manner of things ranging from sunglasses to CDs.
15. Join a band on a cruise ship
If you pay an instrument and sing, then apply for a job on a ship. Tour operators will be able to give you all the information you need to apply. Accommodation should be included, and you will get yourself seen. You may even be taken on for subsequent trips.
16. Rent out your own studio
People make money renting out parking spaces and garages, why not rent out your own place? If you have your own studio, consider renting it out to other up-and-coming artists.
Word will get around and you will earn money from this. There may be other groups out there who need a helping hand and will then refer you on from there.
PS did you know that if you don’t have a studio, you can ‘rent out’ your songs aka license them? Here is an in-depth guide to music licensing.
17. Build a website or blog
Most people are internet savvy these days but even if you must pay someone to build a website, this is a good opportunity for you to get yourself known. It’s also a good place to sell your music. You get to advertise for free.
There are platforms which are designed specially for musicians to advertise on and you can showcase your own at them.
Blogs are easy to start and quick to update. If you have a following on Facebook or other social media platform you will have a following who will see and hear your performances. VictorBailey.com is a prime example!
18. Use YouTube for lessons
This is a great opportunity to give basic lessons on any instrument you are proficient at. Monetize your tutorial and while the lesson is free, you will earn from your site.
This is a good way if you are not too good with facing the public, as it can be recorded in the privacy of your own home and re-done until you are happy with is. Good way to build your own self-confidence while also building a reputation for giving a lesson. And earing money while you do it.
Keeping the lessons simple will mean that you can also extend your audience to beginners and children. Once you have built up your clientele you can offer more involved lessons and broaden your audience ability.
To sum up
So, it seems that there is more than one way to make money from music. Not all these ways will suit everyone, but there are several that will suit each person. For instance, if you enjoy working in front of people, there are plenty of things to try like busking and weddings, children’s parties and churches.
What is important is that if you think you can make money from your music passion you keep an open mind. Not every method is considered ‘normal’, but then, what’s normal, anyway? What works for some people may never work for you, but at the end of the day if you love something and can make money from doing it – however you do this – then you are a truly lucky person.