14 new ways to make money from your music in 2014

2372 19

Make money from your musicNew year — new ways to put your music to work

Here is a quick list of artist revenue streams you may not’ve tried to tap into yet.

Remember, I said “streams.” Not all of these options are going to turn into giant rivers of cash on their own.

But when you add them to your normal music sales and performance revenues, they can make a huge difference in the success and sustainability of your music career.

14 ways musicians can earn more money this year

1. Alternative performances and house concerts – Fill in those blank calendar dates while touring. Check out “The Musician’s Guide to House Concerts” and our list of alternative venues

2. Performance royalties – Get paid whenever your original music is used on terrestrial and internet radio, TV, and more.

3. Mechanical royalties – Maybe you’re already collecting a lot of your performance royalties through a Performing Rights Organization. But are you getting paid mechanical royalties for global streams, international downloads, and more? If not, CD Baby Pro will make sure you get paid ALL the publishing royalties you’re owed.

4. Your music on YouTube – That’s right, the video streaming giant is also becoming a giant in the world of music discovery and monetization too — and CD Baby can help you get paid for the usage of your music on YouTube.

5. Affiliate programs – You’re already sending your fans to Amazon and iTunes to purchase your music. Why not earn a little extra money for it? Check out the Amazon affiliate program and the iTunes affiliate program.

6. Offer unique merch – Have you ever wondered if your merch sales would increase if you sold leather bracelets, pink panties, or throwing stars with your band logo on them? Test it out! This might be the year to order a small quantity of that crazy merch item you’ve always dreamed of to see if it sells.

7. Sell “Direct to Fan” – Use CD Baby’s MusicStore for Facebook and Music Store Widget to sell and share music directly.

8. Digital archives – Diehard fans want to collect every single song, concert, and poster! Like Fugazi, Phish, and other famous band with cult followings, give your fans the opportunity to download every show, video, album, and single.

9. Crowdfunding – They’ve been around for a few years now, but RocketHub and Kickstarter are still generating big revenue for artists who need funds in order to launch creative projects, record albums, etc.

10. Live Streams – Perform live and stream it on a service like GigeeUstream or Justin.tv. Ask fans to subscribe or donate!

11. Recording studio open house – If you have the budget to rent a studio for an extra hour or two during one of the days you’re recording, allow fans to pay for a behind-the-scenes experience where they can see where the magic happens, hear tracks from the upcoming release while it’s still “in the works,” and smell the smells!

12. Compose songs for fans – Offer, for a fee, to write a short song or musical dedication for a fan. Record it quickly on an acoustic guitar or piano, and collect your money! Not all your fans will be interested, but a few superfans would love it.

13. Sell your CDs on consignment at unusual retail locations – Ask your favorite coffee shop, barber shop, salon, restaurant, toy store, or boutique to play your music on their stereo. Then let them sell your disc at the counter and give them some of the dough.

14. Sync licensing – Get paid a sync licensing fee (in addition to possible performance royalties) for the usage of your original songs in film, TV, commercials, video games, corporate presentations, and more.

Did I miss anything? I’m sure I did. There’s dozens of other ways you can make money from your music this year. Let me know some of your ideas in the comments section below.

Email Sign Up: Become a Smarter Musician

[Music money picture from Shutterstock.]

In this article

Join the Conversation

  • Great points Chris. Opening up different streams of income is so important for artists these days. It definitely takes time to lay a solid foundation, but it's well worth it. If you add in skills and knowledge in the form of teaching, doing session gigs, producing, engineering and composing, then there is even more potential to make it a full time income. It's a DIY world and people are looking for resources, skills and knowledge. It's also increasingly a virtual world, so even if you're out on tour there's no reason why you can't be teaching a lesson via Skype, working on an indie film score or writing a blog post on some gear that you like. Most serious musicians have accumulated a wealth of knowledge and experience, from playing technique, to gear, to recording, to producing, to leading a band and much more. It's easy to overlook that stuff but it's of value to people and finding creative ways to share it and make extra income is only a good thing.

    • Yes, I totally agree. Lots of musicians don't want to hear that it's a multi-tasking, multi-revenue stream world. But at least success is possible under those conditions. Also, here's another article from a while back with more potential money-making pursuits for musicians: https://diymusician.cdbaby.com/2013/06/101-ways-to

      @ Chris Robley

      • Right on. I think artists have a lot to learn from entrepreneurs and vice versa. Entrepreneurs constantly pivot, discard what’s not working and try new things. 10 things fail, 1 thing works – keep moving,. As long as you dig the process of discovery it’s a simple recipe for success IMO. Thanks again for these two articles – a lot of great stuff here. Best – Dave @ AirGigs

  • amber chiang

    don’t quite understand the “affiliate programs”. Can someone please explain? Thanks!

  • As an affiliate of a business, you earn a percentage of whatever occur because of customers you directed to that business. So, let's say your an affiliate of Amazon. They give you a custom URL for links that you'd put on your website TO their website. From your website, you link your fans to your own music on Amazon. When they buy your music from Amazon, you get paid your normal sales revenue AND a percentage of Amazon's cut (paid separately through their affiliate program).

    @ Chris Robley

  • Kevin Wood

    These are all good points, and thank you for sharing your expertise. I've been in this business as an independent for 13 years and I make a very good living from it.
    I'd like to offer my best advice, and I hope it helps someone out there: I think one of the very best things you can do as an artist is to release more albums. Of course, try to top out on quality (mixing/mastering/recording) with the budget you have, but do your best and just get it out there. Do as much promotion per album as possible and then move onto another album. I have met very few artists with more than 8 albums under their belt who aren't already successful. If you do this one thing, I think you'll make it, and it will change your life. Whether you can swing one album per year or one album every 4 years, just keep releasing. Also, try partnering and collaborating along the way. Also, try learning and mastering at least one are of promotion on the way, i.e. radio submissions, social media, etc. and you may find it snowballing. And, you may be able to offer the service and monetize your new found expertise. I did this with radio promotion and love doing it for other artists. Make sure you register with a PRO, i.e. BMI and Sound Exchange as well. You likely, just as most musicians, will have to hold a full or part time job over the years. But eventually, you may find yourself working for yourself. I did, and I love it. You can, too!! (www.NewVisionMusic.com)

  • Ethan

    How can I learn about administration process for Rumblefish for sync liscenses, particularly for Youtube? I opted in, have thousands of Youtube hits, but haven’t seen any registered activity yet. What are the audit and collection milestones?

  • Carla Ulbrich

    so, CDbaby pro is for the *publishing* royalties? This would not conflict, then with soundexchange, which is for the master recording royalties, correct? no overlap? (and why is soundexchange not mentioned here? does it overlap with cdbaby?)

  • No overlap. You're correct. SoundExchange collects and distributes a new kind of "performance royalty" (different from the publishing side of performance royalties) for the sound recording. So we recommend doing both. CD Baby Pro ensures you're getting all your publishing royalties (performance and mechanicals for the underlying composition), and SoundExchange ensures you (artist, label, performers) are getting paid for the usage of the master recording.

    @ Chris Robley

    • Carla Ulbrich

      very cool. thanks for clarifying. I am already with ASCAP as publisher and writer, so I’m going to assume your application has a way to indicate that, so that I don’t end up with 2 ASCAP accounts.

  • When did you opt in for our sync licensing program? First, there's only YouTube revenue if viewers click on banner advertisements or watch a certain duration of a video ad. Second, I believe that revenue is reported and paid quarterly (checking into it). So it's possible it just hasn't been reported yet.

    @ Chris Robley

    • Ethan

      Thanks for taking a look, Chris – I think the main feedback is that the process inclusive of reporting periods needs to be advertised inline on our account management screens related to it.

  • Yes indeed. You can provide your ASCAP info for both writer and publisher affiliations during the Pro signup process.

    @ Chris Robley

    • Can you get usage royalties from Sound Exchange for recordings of songs you didn’t write?

  • Hey Kevin, thanks much for the wisdom. Good to hear your perspective and story.

    @ Chris Robley

  • SoundExchange pays a new kind of digital performance royalty to labels, artists, and session players — so yes.

    @ Chris Robley

  • Actually, there’s another way to make money with music. One such example is at http://www.InternetIncome88.com

  • Gina Hocking

    Some good ideas here. I’ve been making a good living from recording online session vocals for 8 years now (www.ginaellen.co.uk)