If you produce music and want to do it full-time, this article will help you find a way to make money off your work.
In this post, we’ll be counting down the top seven ways to earn money as a music producer. You’ll find strategies that work today, in 2020, and are already used by nearly every successful music producer out there.
Make sure you stick with us until the end to discover the top rated way to earn cash while doing what you absolutely love.
Let the countdown start!
7. License your music
Licensing your music means that you register your work and get paid when it’s used by third parties, either played on the radio, used in a YouTube video, commercial, or TV show.
There are several ways you can make money by licensing your music – here are two of them:
One: register your songs with a Performance Rights Organisation (PRO) of your choice, then make them publicly available.
When your songs are public, third parties can play them on the radio, TV, etc. PROs track when your music is played, then help you get paid for the usage of your work. It basically means copyrighting your work, then entrusting organizations within the PRO network to monitor its use and make sure you receive your money.
Two: license your work via music marketplaces and libraries.
Music libraries and marketplaces are places where other artists – marketers, filmmakers, performing artists, etc. – look for music to use in their work.
Once your music is listed, you earn money every time someone buys a license – or simply, permission – to use your loops, beats or songs.
There are different sorts of music libraries that differ in terms of what genre (eg., pop, electronic, etc) and/or type of music (eg., commercial singles or video game music) they specialize in. To save time, make sure you focus on marketplaces where people look for the type of music you make.
Some of the marketplaces that are already popular among music producers are:
Services like these also monitor the use of your music online, and, if your work is used by someone who hasn’t purchased the license, you have the rights to file a lawsuit for a copyright violation.
6. Play live gigs
A lot of electronic music producers, as well as hip-hop music producers, make most of their money by playing live shows. Besides earning money, live gigs also allow them to connect with their fans, build their personal brand, and create buzz around their music.
So, if you know how to DJ and if your music is a crowd pleaser, consider performing live. Start with approaching local bars and nightclubs, then try to expand into outer regions.
Before you get out there, be ready to hustle. Building up your personal proven track record takes time and you may be required to play shows for small fees at first.
Once you start getting your shows booked, make sure you film your performances and upload them on social media like YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, etc.
It’s a great way to show people what your live performances look like, and motivate them to come and see your next show.
Many bar owners and event managers may also require you to share recordings of your previous performances. That helps them understand how you perform and engage with the audience, and then understand if you’re a good fit for their venue or event.
5. Monetize your YouTube channel
Putting time and effort in your YouTube channel pays back – literally. If you have your own YouTube channel with a decent follower base, you should start making money off it.
Start with turning on ads. Then, regularly upload new content.
In 2018, US advertisers spent $3.96 billion on YouTube ads. The video streaming platform is rapidly becoming one of the most popular advertising platforms, along with Facebook, Instagram, and Google.
As a YouTube channel owner with at least 1000 subscribers, you can earn a part of that advertising money by turning on ads. From then on, your viewers will see third-party ads on your videos, and you’ll be earning a percentage of the ad spend. Once you’ve made $100, you’ll receive a payment to your bank account.
The bad news, however, is that you need approximately one million views to make $1000 – $2000 from YouTube content. To get those million views you have two options – either upload one video and hope it will go viral, or you can regularly upload new videos and make them collect those views together.
Use YouTube’s content ID to track your music.
Content ID is a digital fingerprinting system that tracks when your copyrighted music is used in videos that are running ads. If the system finds a match, it notifies the author who can then decide whether to monetize that video or block it.
If you decide to monetize the video that uses your copyrighted music, you’ll be earning a portion of the advertising money that video is making. Depending on who uses your music in their videos, you can make from zero to thousands of dollars per month.
The fact is, up until now, YouTube has paid out more than $3 billion in ad revenue to content creators. Don’t miss out on that money – all you have to do is register your music with YouTube.
Other ways to monetize your YouTube channel
There are many other ways you can make money off your content. To name a few:
- paid partnerships
- affiliate sponsorships
- selling your digital products (songs, beats, etc.) via YouTube
- and more!
4. Teach people music production
You’ve got the skills. Others are interested in learning them. See where we’re going?
Here’s the thing:
Today, education is a trillion dollar industry. And it’s growing – experts estimate that the market will reach at least $10 trillion by 2030, and e-learning will take a significant role in it.
Moreover, people are eager to learn new skills – something they’re interested in, but were not taught at school. Music producing is one of such skills. So, if you’re doing what you do for some time and have valuable lessons on how to navigate the music industry, share them with those just starting out their careers.
There are many ways you can teach music production. Do seminars, organize meetups, write ebooks, create online courses and tutorials… Sell your knowledge on online learning platforms like Skillshare or Udemy, or directly through Sellfy, like Farai The Producer does it:
Here’s a pro tip:
Even though your experience and knowledge are unique, there is plenty of competition. So, think of your other skills outside of music production that can add extra value to your courses.
Are you great at networking? Then teach people how to establish valuable contacts in the music industry. Know a thing or two about PR? Teach music producers how to get media attention. Got other skills? Think of how they relate to music producing, and you’ll have your unique angle.
3. Offer your services online
Another way to make money as an independent music producer is by selling your services and skills, such as:
Look – there’s a plethora of musicians, ad creators and other artists who need help with things like music production and post-production, audio editing, recording, and more. The question is – where exactly do you find your first gigs? Here are a few options:
One: Register on an online marketplace for freelance services, such as Fiverr, Upwork or SoundBette – a marketplace specifically created for mixing and mastering engineers, producers, and music performers.
Two: Let people know you offer such services through your social media channels, as well as tell your friends. You never know – maybe they’ll meet someone looking for the exact skill you offer and will be able to recommend you. And nothing (nothing!) works better than a personal recommendation.
Three: Add a section in your website that outlines what services you offer, along with a contact form that allows people to easily reach out to you.
The more services you can provide, the easier it will be for you to get a gig. That’s because it’s always easier to hire one person who can do several things, than to work with many people each doing just one thing (unless you’re world famous for that one thing you do better than anyone else).
2. Sell your merch
Selling your merch is an additional revenue stream besides making money producing music. Start an online store and sell t-shirts, hoodies, hats, badges, and other merch with your branding to your fans.
Here’s how to sell your merchandise online in three steps:
Step 1: Design your merch.
If you have the designing skills, you can create designs yourself. Alternatively, you can hire a freelance designer through Fiverr, 99designs, Dribbble, or similar online marketplace.
Some ideas what to put on your merch:
- your logo
- your brand name
- your slogan
- lyrics from your song
- catchphrases your fans recognize
- anything else that represents you as a music producer
Step 2: Produce your merch.
If you have an active fanbase, you can take a risk and produce your merch in bulk, then sell it off. The reason why some online sellers go for this option is that it allows them to minimize production costs – you can find manufacturers on Alibaba that will print your design on t-shirts for as low as $1 per tee.
In the best case scenario, you can make a nice profit when selling your tees for some $20 each. However, by ordering products in bulk you also risk getting stuck with a stock of products that no one buys.
Another option is to use print-on-demand companies, such as Printful, Redbubble, Teespring, Society6, and similar.
These companies will print your merch as orders come in, which means there won’t be any upfront costs. And – they also take care of order fulfillment, which is a big bonus, too.
Step 3: Sell your merch.
Set up your own online store with e-commerce platforms like WooCommerce, Shopify, or similar.
However, if you don’t want to invest your time in building your own shop, you can monetize your existing channels – both Facebook and YouTube allow creators to sell their merch straight from their built-in stores.
1. Make money producing beats and selling them online
”Selling your beats online is probably the most obvious [way to make money as a music producer] because it’s your biggest asset,” says producer Curtiss King.
And he’s right. Beats, loops, samples and other music you create are great products to sell online – you create them once, then sell them over and over again.
”Nowadays producers are selling their drumkits, they’re selling their loops, sound effects – any sounds that they create and that they want to share with the world. This is an opportunity for you to make money,” notes music producer DECAP.
And according to people in this industry, there’s good money in there. It’s been calculated that the beat selling market generates at least $30 million in revenue every year. If you weren’t sure it’s possible to make a living selling beats, you shouldn’t doubt it anymore.
So, how do you make money off beats?
Step 1: Create a beat, then price it.
The obvious first step is to have beats to sell. Most probably, you already have a hard drive full of beats, in which case go through what you’ve already created and select your best pieces.
You can sell your beats separately or pack them together with other sounds you’ve created, like samples, loops, drumkits, etc.
Once you’ve come up with a product to sell, come up with your pricing. Generally, beat prices range from $19 and up, depending on factors like quality, uniqueness, producer personal branding, etc. Do some research and see what prices offer other producers who are as far in their careers as you are.
Step 2: Set up your online store.
The easiest (and one of the cheapest) way is to sell your beats with Sellfy. Hundreds of famous producers sell their sounds with Sellfy because it’s easy to set up and customize, besides it allows you to embed your product to any website.
Noir Sound is a group of producers who sell their beats and other sounds via Sellfy.
There are alternatives, such as digital production marketplaces Beatstars and Airbit. However, their free versions may require you to share your profit (up to 30%) or limit the total number of beats you can upload. Besides that, the marketing and personal branding options are rather limited in these platforms, but that’s something your revenue will highly depend on.
Step 3: Market your digital products.
Once your online store is up and running, you can start promoting it to generate your first sales. How do you do that?
- Share on your social media
- Share on niche forums and Reddit groups
- Comment under relevant posts on social media
- Write a guest blog post that mentions your store
- Reach out to your network and let people know you’ve made your beats for sale
- If you have an email list, send out an email; if you don’t, start growing it – email marketing is proven to be one of the most effective marketing channels
- Invest in paid ads
Now it’s your turn
Hopefully, this post helped you identify new ways how you can make money with your music. And now, we’d like to hear from you:
Which strategy are you planning to try first?
Do you have experience with any of the strategies we discussed today?
Or maybe you have a question you want to ask us?
Make sure you leave your comment below! 🙂
Ritvars is the marketing lead at Sellfy.