If you want to earn extra money or even a living as a musician there are a few different paths you can take. If you are a beginner guitar player, you will need to keep focusing on your craft before you are able to take advantage of these tips. The one key feature of them all is that you must learn to sell more than music, it is essential to show and convince people of your talent. This can involve the production, marketing, and sales of your own business. It is not easy, but if you look in the right places it is possible to make money with your music.
Accept Reality and Work Hard
The first step is to accept that there is no financial infrastructure for music in most cultures, and this is not a new phenomenon. Mozart was born with connections and talent, yet he struggled with finances throughout his short life. Even if you have everything going for you, the world of artistic endeavors does not have easy routes or guaranteed happy endings.
Whether your vision is to teach, play, or write, you are going to have to put a lot of time into your money-making efforts. The business side of music isn’t as simple as learning a few easy guitar songs and watching the money roll in. The world loves music and art, but it also is not the biggest fan of paying people for it! If you want to make anything from your music it is important to let society know that your skills need compensation, not exposure.
Obviously joining professional orchestras and symphonies are longer options that will require education and intense practice. But in the meantime, no one is stopping you from setting up shop on a sidewalk and busking. Of course, local laws may not allow this so be sure to check that someone won’t stop you!
If sidewalk busking or symphony orchestras are too extreme there is social media which is used by and available to most people. However, monetizing yourself on such platforms is incredibly difficult, what is best is to perform live for pay and then share those videos. Research local rates for singing or playing at bars, festivals, senior homes, and any location where a band or artist is needed. The rate will vary, but always get paid!
Session and Song-writing Work
Another step to take is to help others as a ghost-writer or session artist. If you are a particularly talented performer that has no interest in fame, people are willing to pay for just the talent. The hard part is finding these types of jobs. Locally you can pound the pavement looking for creative agencies and recording studios, you will have to find a way to showcase your skills and get noticed.
Online you can use freelancing sites or pay and promote ads on social media to potential customers. You will want to have a portfolio or links to your work, so people know exactly what you are selling. This can be a little harder if you are always the ghost of a project, in that case you must keep a stellar profile and reputation, so clients know you are the real deal.
With the rise of home studios, many musicians can now write and compose what they need all on their own. If you have made that step and are creating complete songs and background music, you can sell it on stock audio or freelancing sites directly to the client. If you wish to promote yourself as an artist, then streaming platforms are the way to go. Just be sure the audio is produced to their standards.
And if you are that good at complete song production, you can also work for other musicians like a session artist. Not all musicians can produce their own work, if you are good with home studio technology and musical arrangements you will find a lot more potential for making money. Eventually you can even investigate getting out of your small studio and into a bigger brick and mortar location!
Audio engineering is a different style of work then music production, in some cases not all engineers are necessarily musically talented. But if you happen to be a musician that has a knack for shaping audio, it is definitely a skill that can make you money. In fact, if you wish to sell your compositions on stock audio or streaming sites, you will have to either learn mixing and mastering or pay someone else for the service.
As you have seen, making money in music can involve wearing a lot of different hats and learning different skill sets. The more you can do as a musician, the better chance you have at making money. Of course, the argument can be made that being a jack of all trades means you are a master of none, but if you are a musician with bills to pay? Let folks argue, while you get paid!
And finally, there is teaching music, the most important job on this list! If we didn’t have music education none of us would be here looking to get paid for our talent. Without someone showing us how to play guitar chords and practice our guitar scales, we have no music. The best part about music education is that many people seek it out, so you have more students and clients than just other musicians!
If you do not have the proper certifications to teach in public school, you can always tutor at local music stores or promote your ads online. There are also many freelancing and teaching gig work sites that will allow you to find potential students. Besides students, these sites also have projects that include writing guides, lessons, and even articles for other musicians.
If you really want to make money with your music, you should try all these steps that you can. It will be a case of trial and error to see what works for your goals and what doesn’t. Search and join every streaming, gig, freelancing, stock audio, and educational platform that you can, there are always new places popping up with potential work. And most of all remember the golden rule to making money with your musical talent, be sure to get paid! Don’t work for free!
About the Author
Shawn Leonhardt is a writer for Guitar Tricks and 30 Day Singer. He has produced songs, written T-shirt slogans, and provided voiceovers. He specializes in teaching songwriting, lyrics, and music theory.