D.I.Y.

31 ways to make money from music

There are plenty more ways to make a profit off your music than streaming and live shows… we’ve got about 29 more.

by Greg Majewski from CD Baby’s DIY Musician Blog

There are more ways for musicians to earn money today than at any other point in music history.

From publishing and sync licensing to merch and NFTs, we’ve made a quick checklist of all (or most) of your music royalty and revenue sources.

Check it out and see which ones you may be missing!

1. Streaming revenue from sound recordings

How it’s generated: Any time your tracks are streamed worldwide

How you collect it: Through your music distributor

2. Download revenue from sound recordings

How it’s generated: Any time your tracks are downloaded worldwide

How you collect it: Through your music distributor

3. Streaming mechanicals

How it’s generated: Any time your original songs are streamed worldwide

How you collect it: Through the mechanical agencies directly or your publishing rights administrator

4. Mechanical royalties for physical manufacturing

How it’s generated: Any time one of your original songs is pressed on vinyl, CD, cassette, etc.

How you collect it:Through the mechanical agencies directly or your publishing rights administrator

5. Mechanical royalties for downloads

How it’s generated: Any time your original songs are bought from an international download store

How you collect it:Through the mechanical agencies directly or your publishing rights administrator

6. Performance royalties for digital plays

How it’s generated: When your original songs are streamed on certain platforms

How you collect it: Through your PRO directly or your publishing rights administrator

7. Performance royalties for radio airplay

How it’s generated: Any time your original songs are played on terrestrial radio (AM/FM)

How you collect it: Through your PRO directly or your publishing rights administrator

8. Performance royalties for sync placements

How it’s generated: Any time your original songs are broadcast on TV shows, commercials, etc.

How you collect it: Through your PRO directly or your publishing rights administrator

9. Performance royalties for live performances

How it’s generated: Any time you perform your original songs live or they’re played in a public space

How you collect it: Through your PRO directly or your publishing rights administrator

10. Social video monetization revenue

How it’s generated: When your original songs are used in videos on platforms like Instagram and TikTok

How you collect it: Through your music distributor or social video monetization service

11. YouTube Content ID revenue

How it’s generated: When your music appears in monetized YouTube videos

How you collect it: Through your music distributor or YouTube monetization service

12. YouTube Partner Program revenue

How it’s generated: From ad revenue and YouTube Premium subscriptions watching your content

How you collect it: Through YouTube

13. Selling physical media

How it’s generated: Selling your vinyl, CDs, tapes, etc. through distribution programs, on your website and at brick-and-mortar record stores

How you collect it: From the retailer if you’re selling directly, or from your music distributor

14. Non-interactive (or neighboring rights) digital royalties

How it’s generated: When songs you performed on are played on satellite or Internet radio

How you collect it: From agencies like SoundExchange

15. Fees for playing on session recordings

How it’s generated: Playing in studio sessions with other musicians

How you collect it: From the artist or label who hired you

16. Fees for engineering work

How it’s generated: By producing, mixing or mastering music

How you collect it: From the label or artist who hired you

17. Live performance revenue

How it’s generated: From ticket sales, door fees or bar income at gigs

How you collect it: From the promoter, talent buyer, or venue rep

18. Upfront sync fees for your master recording

How it’s generated: From sync placements in film, TV, etc.

How you collect it: From the production company that licensed your music (if licensing directly) or from your licensing service

19. Publishing royalties from sync placements

How it’s generated: From sync placements

How you collect it: Through your PRO directly or your publishing rights administrator

20. Licensing beats

How it’s generated: From making and selling your beats for artists to use in their songs

How you collect it: From the artist or label licensing your beat

21. Merch sales

How it’s generated: At shows or online

How you collect it: Directly from fans at your shows or via online solutions like Stripe, PayPal, Shopify, Bandzoogle, etc.

22. Membership subscriptions

How it’s generated: From fans signing up for subscriptions, either directly or through platforms like Patreon or Bandcamp

How you collect it: From the platform where you’re offering your subscription (or directly)

23. Crowdfunding

How it’s generated: From fans contributing to a fund for you to record a new album, tour, or just pay bills

How you collect it: From the platform where you’re hosting your crowdfunding

24. Livestream tipping

How it’s generated: From fans tipping during your livestreams on platforms like Facebook (Stars), Twitch (bits), and YouTube

How you collect it: From the platform where you’re hosting your livestream

25. NFTs

How it’s generated: From people spending cryptocurrency to buy your tokens

How you collect it: From the buyer or NFT marketplace, straight to your crypto wallet

26. Sponsorship and endorsement deals

How it’s generated: From gear companies or other brands affiliated with you

How you collect it: Directly from the company that is endorsing you

27. Virtual tipping

How it’s generated: From fans contributing to your virtual tip jar on social platforms like Discord or streaming platforms like Spotify

How you collect it: Directly from the platforms hosting your tip jar like HearNow

28. Teaching lessons

How it’s generated: By teaching in-person or virtual lessons

How you collect it: From the people you teach

29. Selling VIP experiences

How it’s generated: By selling experiences to your biggest fans

How you collect it: Directly from your fans

30. Selling courses

How it’s generated: By teaching courses of things you’re knowledgeable about

How you collect it: Through the website or platform where you’re offering the lessons

31. Freelancing skills

How it’s generated: Hiring out your skills if you’re experienced in marketing, design, or other specialties

How you collect it: Through the people who employ you


What did we miss?

If there are 31 ways to make money from music, there are probably more. So let us know in the comments what sources we forgot.

Want to learn more about all the revenue sources available to you?

Watch the full podcast episode “31 Music Revenue Sources”:

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1 Comment

  1. Hey guys great checklist! I’m a producer helping artists establish their career, so here are a couple more you could add:

    – Selling samples and loops (even if you’re a singer and not a producer, you could make voice samples and loop packs. Producers are always looking for the newest & most fresh samples out there). It takes some skill to build a good pack but once you learn how to do it you’ll be able to do it forever.

    – You could explore the music royalties stock market. This is usually for already established artists – and of course you’ll need a big enough catalogue – but I worked with emerging talents who were able to sell a percentage of their own catalogue to fans/investors. In any case, keep this option in mind when you get to the top!

    – I know you already mentioned freelancing and session recording, but a huge tip is to actually sell your songwriting skills on websites like Fiverr and Soundbetter. It takes some time to establish your profile but you’ll be able to find people who will pay you for writing and recording vocals on top of their own beats, for example. At the beginning of my own career I found lots of mixing and producing gigs there.

    – If you are a singer-songwriter who also plays an instrument or two, there are websites like Songfinch.com where people commission custom songs for occasions like anniversaries, birthdays etc. It’s a big community with already more than a thousand artists involved.

    – This is more like a strategy but don’t forget that artists can and should build their own mailing list too. You could start by simply giving away free song or videos downloads in exchange for your fans email address, for example. Make your email list an interesting one and you’l be surprised how useful that can be to your growth and wallet.

    I hope this was helpful too! Feel free to get in touch if you want 🙂
    Ma

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