Are you wondering how you can make money from your music online? How you can earn money from music?
You're in the right place.
Here we show you five tactics for making money online. There are lots of ways to capitalise on the internet for generating income from your music - these are our favourites.
But let's get one thing straight:
All the tactics here involve effort. There's a lot of articles on the internet about how you can make a gazillion dollars while sitting on a beach drinking piña coladas.
This article isn't one of them. Each tactic involves some work - but if executed properly - the benefits far outweigh the grind to make them happen.
Jump straight to the money making tactics that interests you below if you like. We recommend you read the entire page.
Making Money As A Musician Online - 5 Tactics
Tactic 1 - Music Videos + Youtube advertising
Tactic 2 - Online Tutorials
Tactic 3 - Ghostwriting Music and Lyrics
Tactic 4 - Writing For Music Blogs and Online Magazines
Tactic 5 - Crowd fund your own festival
Now we're going to look at each strategy in depth. Get a paper and pen ready (or your phone, whatever!)
Tactic 1 - Music Videos + Youtube Advertising
How about putting together a simple music video?
Even if you don’t have a strong local following, that doesn't matter. Your marketplace is the entire internet.
You can monetize even basic music videos via the power of Youtube ads.
How does this work? Basically Youtube will advertise your video for you within banners that appear on other music videos - you know those annoying adverts you have to sit through to get to the thing you really want to watch.
For every click you get to your video, you get YouTube royalties per view.
Spending a few minutes setting up a channel for your band (or if you're a one man band, just yourself) and getting an adsense account and linking up the two isn’t a difficult task.
Here’s a quick breakdown of how it works.
- Step 1: Create a YouTube channel for your band
- Step 2: Create an Adsense account here https://www.google.com/adsense/start/
- Step 3: Enable your YouTube channel for monetisation
- Step 4: Connect your YouTube channel to an AdSense account in order to earn money and get paid for your monetised videos
- Step 5: Select "monetise with ads" for your videos, and choose which ad formats and videos you want from Creator Studio app and in video manager
- Step 6: Take a minute to familiarise yourself with the kinds of ads you can use. There are a few different types of ads, including the banner ads that show at the bottom of videos whilst they play, and the video ads that show before a viewer watches the one you’ve uploaded
For a more in depth breakdown, YouTube have created a handy little guide that takes you through each step of the process.
How do I make a music video?
Making the video might be a little more time intensive, and you might need to invest a little money if you don’t already have the skills or equipment needed to make one. However, if you have a decent network to draw on this doesn’t have to be a major source of frustration.
Remember, you don’t need to create the sort of thing that wins awards.
If you don’t have a decent camera, or don’t have the time to produce a video for the length of your track, you might want to take a look at creating a lyric video.
What is a lyric video?
Lyric videos have become quite popular recently, as they have the benefit of allowing listeners to learn the words from your video, rather than one put up by a random youtuber.
If you would like to tackle the challenge of making a music video yourself, but don’t have much in the way of spare cash, you might also want to take a minute to check out this article on diymusician.
If you want to go beyond what can typically be managed by a minimal budget, animation provides an interesting creative solution.
You’ll need to be prepared to invest some time into learning how it all works, but you can try out free software such as Blender, which offers a powerful suite of 3D video creation tools.
There’s tons of tutorials available on youtube, so don’t worry about being tricked into getting Blender for free only to have to pay a fortune for a course on how to use it.
As long as the music has high standards, is well recorded and the video is entertaining, you’ve got a marketable product that can produce a passive income.
You might not be hitting six figures with these ideas straight away, but the more videos you can produce the more money you can make. In addition, if you become particularly skilled at them you can make a healthy income simply from creating videos for other people.
Tactic 2 - Online Tutorials
Online tutorials...There are tons of these things out there for free, why on earth would I want to start trying to teach stuff to people?
Cos there's money in it, if you do it right.
The first, and most obvious method, is to create “how to” videos demonstrating different techniques on your instrument. Just like with the music videos we talk about in the previous idea, you can upload these to YouTube and monetize them with adsense.
There’s just one problem with this approach:
The market for these kind of videos and articles can be over-saturated.
What alternatives are there?
- Creating a “How To Play Song X on Instrument X”. These work quite well if they’re designed to teach you how to play a song on a different instrument to the one that it’s originally played on.
- If you’re bilingual, you can take advantage of the same video twice by uploading it in a second language. As long as you’re fluent, you can double your audience reach and therefore double your adsense earning potential.
- If you have skill with an unusual instrument, you can also produce videos that demonstrate how to properly maintain it. For example, when somebody picks up the Sitar for the first time, they’re unlikely to know how to correctly restring and tune it.
The real money in online tutorials doesn’t come from youtube, but by creating paid subscription courses. By producing a series of videos that are only available to people that pay for a membership, you can have a long term income.
If you can continually update your content, even better. Even if you just produce a video course and Ebook, you can still make large amounts of money from one-off payments for these.
How do I set up my own professional music website?
If you’re serious about this, you’ll want to have a professional website set up, along with a method for capturing subscribers and a premium members-only section, so you’ll also need an e-commerce section.
Of course, once you’ve gone through the initial set up period, everything from that point is much easier. If you don’t want to do this yourself, outsource it to somebody else who specialises in this and it leaves you free to get on with creating the content.
This is preferable to offering in-person music lessons for a number of reasons.
Steps for setting up your own online tutorial platform...
- Firstly, you don’t need to keep doing it over and over again. Once you’ve created the tutorial for overcoming problem xyz, you don’t need to repeat it. If viewers keep coming back to you with the same questions, you can simply incorporate it into a new video.
- Secondly, you don’t have to find a place to hold the lessons. If your home isn’t suitable, and you don’t want to spend a fortune travelling to your pupil’s, having an online ‘classroom’ is an elegant solution.
Tactic 3 - Ghostwriting Music and Lyrics
If you read the autobiographies of many celebrities, pro athletes and politicians, you might be surprised to discover that these people usually don’t write their own books.
It turns out that huge amounts of the music you listen to aren’t written by the named artist either.
Of course it’s common knowledge that signed bands and artists usually work alongside a team. But quite often, they won’t have any creative influence beyond vetoing elements they can’t stand. Aside from recording and performing the tracks live, the artist isn’t involved.
So if you have a decent amount of skill in writing lyrics or producing beats, you can make serious money, as long as you’re prepared to let somebody else take all the credit.
Don’t believe me?
Elitedaily.com ran an article showcasing a rather high profile rapper who made a career based on lyrics written by others in secret.
The benefit is that once you’ve written the music and the client has accepted it, you don’t need to worry about how successful it is. Everything after that is somebody else’s problem.
So how much money can you typically stand to make with this kind of shadowy work?
Not bad right?
But getting started is the biggest hurdle in this industry.
How to make money with music production
Getting your first client for ghostwritten music is the hardest part, but after that it gets much easier as you can use these initial clients for referrals and testimonials.
The best way to get your first couple of clients is going to be through a third-party online marketplace, such as fiverr.com and from there you can leverage your success by directly approaching record labels, studios and artists to offer your services.
Once you build up a big enough reputation, you’ll find that these same people you had to hustle to get the attention of, will start asking for YOU!
Be warned though, there’s an easy way to ruin your reputation as a ghostwriter musician. If you can’t keep quiet about your involvement, you can wave goodbye to any future clients and likely find yourself embroiled in a legal battle.
This brings me onto my next point. Before you engage in this kind of work, you’re going to need a couple of contracts.
- Firstly, you’ll need to be absolutely clear on payment terms, so if your client tries to wriggle out of paying you, you’ll have a strong legal argument to chase them down with. Occasionally you’ll find clients that you can simply get by on the honors system with, but don’t count on this as a long term plan.
- Secondly, a non-disclosure agreement will put your client’s mind at ease, and make them much more amenable to working with you.
Tactic 4 - Writing For Music Blogs and Online Magazines
You might think this doesn’t strictly count as making money as a musician, and in a way you’re right. You’ll need some serious talent as a writer, especially if you’re going after large names in the business.
On the other hand, this isn’t a job just any old person can do. How many structural engineers understand the finer points of difference between different sets of guitar strings after all?
This is a pretty expansive method of making money and you can do it in a thousand different ways.
Whether it’s writing reviews for gear, how-tos, or even music journalism in which you interview other musicians, you can always find an audience for your writing if it’s good enough. And if there’s an audience, there’s money to be made.
You need to do great research
Although it might seem impossible, there’s always an improvement to be made. Even if you simply collate many fractured sources of information together, you can create an article that has value and that people will happily pay you money to write.
Remember 99% of content on the internet isn't original - but pulling it together in a coherent way is original. You need to come at it from an angle too.
How to find writing opportunities?
There are plenty of opportunities out there, you just need to know how to look for them.
Many music blogs and websites have a submissions section. They'll often be called 'write for us' or 'guest blog'. Here they’ll outline exactly what they’re looking for, what format and any guidelines you should follow before sending in your piece.
Don’t try to be clever and skip past these. You’ll just be wasting your own time. Do your research, and get off to a good start.
How to approach prospective music blogs
Music sites and blogs (like this one) are always on the look out for quality writing, and they frequently outsource to others.
The best way to impress a website owner is to pitch them some article ideas. Try coming up with a list of 10 or so blog ideas which could use your expert knowledge. Find the email address on the site, most sites have a contact us page, and ping them an email.
Sometimes you might find that nobody is willing to work with you unless they can see previous examples of your work. This is where producing content for free can be useful, as you can point to your work and show them how popular it is.
Setting up your own blog is a good idea too. A free wordpress site is simple enough to create. You can use it as a portfolio site and practice writing.
You could even build into your blog paid tutorial courses that we discussed in tactic 1, like AndyGuitar.com has done.
Tactic 5 - Crowd fund your own festival
One of the most important events in every teenager’s life these days is going along to a huge festival that lasts over several days and has dozens of huge name bands.
The ticket prices for these things tends to be astronomical, and the cost of food and drink once inside is yet more revenue for you to take advantage of.
Of course, you’re going to need some serious organisation and promotion to make this work. But as we said at the beginning of the article - there are no short cuts, all these ideas take effort and a fair chunk of entrepreneurial flair! But hey, you're a zinginstruments reader so I reckon you're pretty bright anyway.
More and more people are trying their hand at setting up festivals, and the pot of money is only growing larger.
Of this 32 million, the majority of festival-goers are millenials. And the best way to target this group for promoting your very own festival is through social media. This makes advertising your festival stupidly easy, as you can take full advantage of Facebook’s profiling to create hyper-targetted ads that will only show up for users that are interested in the kind of music or even the same bands that will be headlining your festival!
To get started, take a look at the business side of Facebook.
Of course, creating an ad is quite an in-depth process, and a tad beyond the scope of this article.
But don’t despair! Take a look at this free resource that takes a look at some of the most powerful Facebook ad campaign types and why they’re so effective.
Hopefully this will give you a good jumping off point, and in addition it’s also an excellent tool for promoting your band, gigs and albums too!
Compared to touring, even huge names make more money performing at festivals, so this is a great incentive to attracting those headliners.
You can even promote your own band by taking part in your own festival!
Planning is essential
Of course, there’s going to be a lot of planning required. Unless you own a large enough plot of land, you’re going to need to find somebody who’s willing to host your event.
Like all business, you’re going to have to spend money to make money.
But if you’re reading this article, chances are you don’t have a ton of cash laying around to rent out a field.
Exchanging discounted entry to your festival for a cash investment can let you quickly raise the cash needed to get everything in motion, and depending on how successful your crowdfunding campaign is, you can use that money to bring in some truly impressive bands.
Depending on what state or country you live in, or plan to organise the event in, there’s going to be different requirements. Make sure you do the appropriate research, or you could be causing yourself a lot of headaches later on.
Of course, once you’ve had your initial success, you can turn it into an annual event. As the reputation of the festival grows, more people will come. The more people that come, the more money there is to be made. It’s an entire economy, encompassing everything from the bands, to promoters, to caterers.
You’ll just need to be aware that this is going to be a truly massive undertaking, so you’ll need to be prepared to invest a lot of time and effort.
But hey, your own festival...PRETTY COOL!
Wrapping it all up - How were these 5 tactics for making money from music online?
We’ve talked about a lot of different ways you can make money as a musician, some simple, some not so simple.
But don’t forget, just because you’ve been gigging regularly and haven’t been raking in the dough, doesn’t mean you should give up on your own dreams.
You might not be making thousands of dollars per gig just yet, but if you’re persistent and skilled, chances are that you’ll eventually be discovered by the right people.
So, be prepared to put in the effort to make our suggestions work. After all, there’s nothing to stop you from doing both. In fact, it’s preferable to do so as you can promote your own band (if you have one) through all of these sources too. Some of them even let you earn money without lifting a finger after you do the work once. This can free you up by letting you spend less time at work, and more time working on your music.
Of course, these aren’t the only ways musicians have found of making money online. Every day more and more opportunities are sprouting up for musicians with an eye for business to take advantage of, so if you’re quick off the mark and determined to make something work despite the inevitable challenges, you’ll find there are more ways to make money as a musician than you’d ever dreamed of.
If you have any other suggestions, or have tried out some of these ways, share your experiences in the comments!