Make Money With Your Music

Stop chasing a record deal – now you can make it on your own terms.

I don’t know about you, but it upsets me when one of my favourite recording artists stops making music because they’ve not made enough money to make it worthwhile.

The past decade has seen huge changes in how music is made, and how it is monetized, and many great musicians have been unable to adapt to the new model, falling by the wayside as a result.

Call time on the fantasies

Do you remember Andrew Lincoln’s famous scene with the notecards in Love Actually? In the same way that he reluctantly realised that Kiera Knightley would never be his, and it was time to end his relentless pursuit of her, now would be a good time to ditch your fantasies of landing a huge record label deal, and instead take your music career by the scruff of the neck and make something happen for yourself.

A friend of mine was once signed to a major label and spent two years recording an album that the label decided not to release. The painful part is that the recordings forever belong to the label, and my friend can’t make any use of the recordings he spent years of his life on. I heard a couple of the tracks in his home studio, and they sounded wonderful. Tastefully musical songs, expertly played with gorgeous sonic quality captured in a number of the UK’s finest recording studios. And nobody will ever get to hear them. Unless you’re me. Or my friend’s cat.

Change your approach

If you are unable to adjust your approach then you could find your musical aspirations forever limited to hobby status. Now, that is great if that’s where it fits best in your life. But, for some of us, making music is vital. Music is a part of us that, if quenched, makes us a lesser version of ourselves.

So, if that describes you, you owe it to yourself, your family and friends to figure out new ways to make your music make money.

Here are few ideas you might explore:

5 Ways Your Music Skills Can Make You Money

  • Play live
    Playing live is a great way to enjoy playing music and get paid for it. Beyond the traditional venues of the pub & club circuit, home concerts are becoming a huge deal. The overheads are much less, and the crowd often much less intimidating. Over and above ticket sales, I’ve known small groups pass a hat around and hand the cash over to the artist at the end of the night. Result! Busking is another great option, especially if you play regularly in a city with a large amount of tourism such as London or York.
  • CD & merchandise sales
    Despite what the cool kids on the digital block would have you believe, CD sales are still a large part of the indie musician’s income. These sell especially well after gigs. If the audience enjoyed your live show, then they’re often keen to retain a memento of the moments you shared – and CDs are the perfect answer. Don’t gig without them!
  • Fan-funding
    Give people an opportunity to support you. If you’re planning a recording project, then a crowdfunding campaign run on a platform such as Kickstarter or Indiegogo is a brilliant way to encourage financial support from the people who are invested in your music. I ran a Kickstarter campaign for my album Catapult, and one fan gave £1000! Now, try selling your finished album to anyone for that amount and see how far you get…
  • check
    Sync Licensing
    Many independent musicians make very comfortable incomes producing songs for placement on TV shows, advertisements and films – without a label support or even a manager. It’s possible to do but will take some commitment and persistence. Music supervisors and licensing companies get a lot of unsolicited enquiries, so make sure you always share your best work and make your approach according to the guidelines each company sets out for you.
  • check
    You don’t necessarily need to be a qualified teacher or follow a syllabus to make use of your music skills and put food on the table. It depends on the needs of the student, really. I’ve had guitar & studio production students, and nobody ever asked to see any certificates. It’d be fair enough if I was offering brain surgery, but what matters, in this case, is that you know more than your student and that you’re able to help them advance during their time with you.

    You could consider giving private lessons and also approach local colleges or arts groups about giving classes or workshops.

Over To You

I hope these ideas have sparked your imagination and given you some inspiration. You’re a creative person, right? So, I’m confident that you can discover new, creative ways to keep making the music that you love so much.

You can do it!