Independent musicians have a tremendous advantage of maintaining complete control over their careers. You can easily promote your music while keeping exclusive rights to it, without the need for signing with a label or giving rights to another company in the process.
If you haven’t already discovered the benefits of multiple revenue streams, there are plenty of ways you can diversify your income while staying a relevant musician within the industry. Here are some of the creative strategies that you can utilize to make money as a musician right now.
1. Live Streams
In response to the global pandemic of COVID-19, live streaming music has become a staple to aiding the music scene. So you should take it upon yourself if you have not already to become more tech-savvy and embrace the digital age we are in, monetize your music with live streaming.
Some ideas that musicians use live streaming for 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 that 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.
2. Teaching Online 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. You can supplement your income and continue making music and performing gigs. You have plenty of options to teach students in individual, one-on-one sessions, doing group learning classes with a few students at a time, or teaching online and having the ability to educate students from all over the world.
In some cases, musicians have discovered they enjoy the rewards of teaching and educating others in music rather than performing themselves. So, you might find an entirely new career path to lead others in music.
3. Licensing Your Music
Many creatives are looking for music to use within their projects, such as a television show, online advertisement, commercial, or feature film. If you’d love to see your original works featured in something like this, then you should consider licensing your music.
There are plenty of music licensing agencies that have networks with music producers. If you sign up with one, your music will be featured in their music library for professionals to hear samples of and contact you to use your music in their next creative endeavor. You also open up new opportunities for more work in this fashion since you can build relationships with producers and the like who may want to utilize your pieces in more than one project.
4. Build a YouTube Channel
YouTube has a massive platform for independent musicians to take full advantage of their music. It’s a way to build a following and develop your career. There is some work involved since creating videos will take some effort and understanding, but you can efficiently utilize YouTube’s Content ID system to protect and monetize your music.
Earning royalties on YouTube is helpful for income, but you can also build up your audience since there are so many people watching videos. It can help you find your proper demographic, and then you can cater to their wants right with your channel. And you don’t just have to stick with music performances; let those creative juices flow and come up with new ways to reach your fans.
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. 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. YouTube also offers sponsorships where you would promote something right in your videos. It takes work to build up your followers, but it can be a fantastic avenue for an alternative revenue stream as a musician.
6. Collaborations and Session Work
Working with other musicians allows you the ability to tap into their insights, as well as find ways to work together. For example, maybe you want to create a new song together, or you can put together a master class to enroll students for your expertise in a facet of music that you have expertise in and are willing to share.
For example, if you understand the music writing process, you could work with another musician on all songwriting components. Maybe you’re great with lyric writing, and the other musician knows how to manipulate different chord progressions and rhythms. Putting both parts together can supply your students with a ton of knowledge and assistance in their musical journeys.
Session work is another way to work with other musicians – maybe you’re great on the piano, and your musician friend plays the guitar. They may be recording in a studio and need to pay extra musicians to fill in for other instruments, so you could offer your services to play. In some instances, this might turn into you being asked to go on tour as a featured musician with a band.
The global pandemic in 2020 was a challenging time for musicians, particularly independent artists. But it has surfaced with a plethora of new opportunities and alternative revenue streams for you to take full advantage of, helping you look towards the future with many possibilities.
These are just a few suggestions for starting your methods and strategies for revenue. Don’t sell yourself short – tap into those creative ideas and come up with new techniques, approaches, tactics, and other ways in which you can use your music to generate new forms to move your career forward.