Are you dreaming of taking your music career full-time? We all wish we could make a living doing something we love! But generating a reliable income through live performances and record sales isn’t easy, especially when you’re new to the industry.
The reality is, you need to diversify your income streams if you want to be successful. Finding other ways to make money with your music online will get you through the slow times. You might even be able to generate a full-time income through online platforms if you have good business sense and are willing to think outside the box.
Once you know where to look, there are many virtual opportunities for musicians to make money online. Here are 14 creative ideas to help you get started!
How to Make Money With Music Online?
1. Connect with a Music Licensing Agency
Creators and businesses always need music to use in their projects, and that music has to be licensed. Marmoset, a music licensing agency, curates a library of tracks from musicians like you for people in the film and TV industry looking for licensed tracks to use in their projects.
Not only will you make money on your submitted work, but you’ll also likely get mentioned in the credits which could lead to more opportunities in the future.
2. Get Support from Your Fans with a Patreon Page
Patreon is a unique platform that allows creators to make money through monthly pledges from their fans. As a musician, you can offer your fans various rewards based on how much money they are willing to pledge each month.
Many people set their pledge levels at something like $5, $10, $15, and so on, so it’s easy to see how that could add up if you have a loyal fan base. Y
ou can entice fans to sign up by offering exclusive content such as live streams and behind-the-scenes vlogs. Be sure to offer your higher-level patrons rewards like sneak peeks at new songs, video or music downloads, and VIP passes to your live performances to encourage larger monthly pledges.
3. Offer Virtual Music Lessons
Musicians often have skills with a particular instrument. If you know how to play the piano, for instance, you can offer online piano lessons from anywhere as a means to bring in extra revenue.
Working online makes your lessons available to students from anywhere in the world and it gives you the chance to fine-tune your skills while you teach.
You’ll need a laptop, tablet, or phone with a webcam to get started, and lessons are usually conducted through video chat software like Zoom, Skype, or Facetime. There are even a variety of online platforms you can use to help you find students!
YouTube offers many fantastic opportunities for musicians who want to make money virtually. Here are a few ideas:
- You could offer your original songs for creators to use in their monetized videos. YouTube will then pay you a percentage of any advertising money earned from that video.
- You can create your own YouTube channel with original music videos, behind-the-scenes videos, or even music lessons for beginners. When you monetize those videos with ads, you can earn a decent income, especially if your videos get a lot of views.
- You could breakdown songs as a musician in a way to teach others. An excellent example of this is Natalie Weiss’s YouTube channel. She developed her own series called “Breaking Down the Riffs,” She used singers and showed them how to break down complicated riffs in well-known songs. It was revolutionary in helping singers to learn that riffs don’t have to be overly complex, and when you break them down into steps, it becomes easier to sing.
5. Start a Crowdfunding Campaign
If you’ve got fans, you might want to consider running a crowdfunding campaign. Your devoted fans want to support you and they’re probably willing to make a small donation to do so.
Lots of small donations can add up to enough money to fund your next big project or help you promote your music during a slow time. There are several crowdfunding platforms for musicians that make it easy to set up a successful campaign.
6. Sell Merchandise from Your Website
If you have a website, don’t limit yourself to selling CDs and music downloads. Fans love to promote their favorite musicians by wearing personalized gear like hats, t-shirts, hoodies, and buttons. You could also offer merchandise at a variety of price points, such as PDFs of your lyrics, autographed photos, stickers, and posters right from your website.
Shopify is a great e-commerce platform to set up and sell merchandise on your website. You can also use a print-on-demand service, like Printful or Printify, to get your products printed and shipped directly to your fans. This way, you don’t have to spend time and money stocking and shipping merchandise yourself.
7. Digital Music Sales
While you can sell digital music downloads on your band’s website, there are lots of other opportunities to explore.
Online retailers such as Amazon and Apple Music are very popular with music lovers, so you could end up with more sales on these platforms. However, they do keep a percentage of your sales for using the service.
8. Do Live Shows or Livestreams
Performing live shows online minimizes overhead and allows you to reach fans all over the world. It’s a great way to make money virtually, and you can broadcast the show right from your home.
Charge fans a fee to access your livestream or simply ask for donations/tips. Don’t forget to promote your website merchandise and Patreon page, too!
Facebook Live offers a fantastic set of tools for musicians, but Instagram Live and YouTube Live are also excellent platforms. You can collect donations or tips using platforms like PayPal or Venmo.
A few other live streaming ideas include:
- Series of streams – If you are launching an album or have a few singles under your belt, you can develop your own series to reveal them in a live stream, potentially broadening your outreach since anyone in the world can view them. Set up a way to charge people to watch your live stream series.
- Q&A sessions – Offer your fans the opportunity to ask you questions – people love to get personal and feel like they are establishing a connection with you. You can also gain a lot of insight and feedback from your viewers to discover what they want to hear and see, which can help you develop new strategies and tactics for growth.
- “Backstage” inside peek – Another great way you can connect with your audience is by doing live streams that offer a more inside look into your musicianship. Get creative with things that you can show people, such as a day in the recording studio, how to mix and master music at home, or what it’s like preparing for a performance at an event.
9. Digital Royalties
Streaming music services must pay royalty fees to the musician for playing their music.
The platforms include Spotify, SiriusXM radio, cable TV music channels, and webcasts/podcasts. Be sure to sign up for a free account with SoundExchange to ensure that you receive royalties when your music is played.
10. Write Music for Other Musicians
If you’re a good songwriter, you can make some extra cash ghostwriting music for other musicians. Once you establish a good reputation, this can be a very lucrative way to make money.
In fact, many of the biggest stars in the music industry use music written by ghostwriters. You can even use an online job board and search for jobs related to songwriting to pick up some extra work.
11. Podcasts and Internet Radio Shows
Doing live performances and interviews on podcasts and internet radio shows is a great way to get your name and music out there and build a massive fan base.
Although you may not get paid for the appearance itself, you can direct people to your website where they can purchase your music downloads, vinyl, CDs, and merchandise.
12. Social Media Sponsorships
Social media platforms host a multitude of influencers these days. If something like this interests you, you can develop a social media strategy to build up your following and eventually take on sponsorships that will allow you to monetize your channels and earn money.
There are plenty of music companies with products and services that will pay you to promote them. It can help you build up equipment in your home recording studio or allow you to utilize free services, which can help propel your social media.
Read Next: 9 Must-Have Home Studio Essentials In 2023
13. Pickup Freelance Gigs
There are a few platforms like Fiverr and Upwork that people go when they need musicians to perform certain tasks. Whether that be to come up with a snappy bass line, write lyrics, or mix and master their track.
You can promote your services on these platforms and let potential clients know how you can help them with their projects. You can also create an online portfolio of your work and share it on social media or other music-related websites to showcase your skills and attract potential clients.
14. Teach on Sidetrain
Sidetrain is “the first knowledge marketplace” that lets musicians make money by getting booked for 1 on 1 sessions by students from all over the world. People from all over are waiting for your wisdom – just register as an expert on the website, set any rate that you want, then earn some money for sharing knowledge about what you love.
Thanks to modern technology, it’s easier than ever for musicians to develop multiple virtual income streams.
By now, you should have lots of creative ideas to help you turn music into your full-time career. A little creativity and business sense can open up a whole world of virtual opportunities for musicians to make money online!