New Ways Musicians Can Earn Money in 2012

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Money, Money, Money, MoneyNew year– new ways to make money from your music!

Here is a quick list of artist revenue streams you may not have tried to tap into yet (thanks to Hypebot for drawing our attention to some of these links).

Most likely, you won’t earn an adequate income from any one of these; but when you add them to your normal music sales and performance revenue, Santa might be able to put that extra Neumann U-87 in your stocking at the end of 2012!

10 ways musicians can earn more money this year.

1. Alternative performances and house concerts– Fill in those blank calendar dates while touring. Check out or Concerts In Your Home.

2. 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.

3. 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.

4. 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.

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

6. Digital archives- Diehard fans want to collect everything! Like Fugazi, Phish, and other famous band with cult followings, give your fans the opportunity to download every show, video, album, and single.

7. 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.

8. Live Streams- Perform live and stream it on a service like Ustream or Ask fans to subscribe or donate!

9. 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!

10. 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!

Did we miss anything? I’m sure we did. Let us know in the comments section below.

-Chris R. at CD Baby


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  • Nice post! Thx! We’re gonna share it with our indie musicians/bands friends community 😉 Happy New Year from all Buzztune team &associated artist!

  • I like Marc with a C’s project “Marc Sings For You”, in which he’ll record a personal performance for you for just $25, with 4 songs you request and another 4 chosen at random.

  • Anonymous

    Throwing stars! Brilliant! But don't sell them at the venue. Bartenders frown on arming the drunks. In all seriousness, I think the more unusual the merch the better. I wanna try band branded bandaids.

    • Those band-branded bandaids should come packaged with the throwing stars.

  • I love the insight from this post…I have been mulling number ten for the longest. I have some ideas and hopefully they come to life this year.

  • Tim Sweeney

    Don't forget local businesses that will partner with you and many times even pay you to play the shows you already have scheduled and getting paid by the venue to play. There is a section in the 800 CDs Movie.

  • Good tip on selling, but taking returns. Thanks!

  • Hey Mark, we actually do have an affiliate program. Check out:

  • Nice! And very entrepreneurial!

  • Alain Deltenre

    Hey, kinda new here and from europe, but love Cdbaby already.

    In your mail I read something about youtube, but on this site I can't find anything about it. We have a lot of video's we've made of our songs on youtube (also covers we are now clearing on limelight). Can you explain to me how or when it will be possible to collect streaming income from you tube?

    Tnx a lot for your aswer and services,


    Purple People Eaters

  • Nanni88s

    It should be known that Spotify is NOT paying independent artists – only major labels, as far as I understand.

  • Bluz6

    Free or low paying concerts at Car dealerships, Gas stations can draw a crwd, you can use the time for a rrehersal too.

  • #2 is something I’ve done with my books for years, however, rather thank consignment, I’d prefer to sell 5 or 10 units and let them know they’re returnable. That way you’re not keeping track of all the mercy out there.

    #4 is great too and can be used with bundles. Some big hit band did this with kerchiefs and CD’s back in the beginning of the Internet- like 1995.

  • Years ago I posed to CD Baby that not only should it create a sales widget but that there should be a mechanism so that fans could easily become affiliates of a music act, getting commissions for sales they help generate. Nimbit managed to do that with their widget a couple of years ago. If CD Baby would add that to the widget, it would help create a viral expansion loop where the promise of earning would encourage fans to share widgets above and beyond their desire to simply share music that they like. Then, more sales for the music act, and so another way for musicians to earn more money.

  • Sibsings

    Great post!! I particularly like #2 and #4. I sold my CD in a friend’s high end Spa! Did very well, I might say. I also created a line of jewelry that I sell at my appearances. That alone made my sells jump like crazy!

    • Michelle May

      We sold our Christmas CD at my friend’s spa, too! It was perfect music to play in the background while people were getting services and quite a few ended up buying it. This worked with our first CD, also.

  • I've tried consignment 3 times, and it's been disastrous. I have yet to see a penny and my CDs are long gone. You REALLY need to stay on top of the store owners for this to work, and if you hate the idea of having to ask for your money a dozen times or simply don't have the time to follow-up on a very regular basis….. don't do consignment. My advice, only consider consignment in a store/location that YOU personally frequent.

  • Boone

    I love #4! I actually like making one of a kind things to give away at shows. Picked up a used plastic lunchbox at salvation army and printed off a decent sticker of the band’s logo to place on the lid. Also did a custom snow globe in December. I put an email line on the drawing slips and added a bunch of new folks to the newsletter when it’s done. I suppose there would be some creative way to make money at this as well.

  • Zach D

    One way we have always made more money and played way more shows than other bands is good old fashioned guerrilla marketing. When my bassist and I first started our band, we spent an entire day walking up and down as many streets as we could, going into any business we thought could use a band. Keep in mind, I said WE thought they could use a band! We walked into some pretty off the wall places, a pool hall, chinese restaurants, a beauty salon, an insurance office. We asked them point blank if they had considered hiring a band to help with marketing. Sure, we got a lot of no's and blank stares, but we got a surprising amount of yes's as well. A lot of business owners thought that it might help out a bit to have some musical entertainment at their next offfice party or to liven up the diners' experience. After that day, we had every weekend booked for several months!

    Another tip: If you run into a bar or club owner that's hesitant to bring in your band, ask them what they typically pay a band to play for a night. Whatever they say, offer to play for $50 dollars less. Most businesses will not turn down a good discount. If you do well, they will be eager to bring you back.

  • Chris adams

    Get a google ads account and put ads on your youtube videos and web sites.
    Then If you paid for a facebook ad and the landing page was a page with a google ad it would pay for itself. Plus you would get paid for fans just visiting your site. The ads can also be related so your fans may actually be interested in the products advertised on your page, everyones a winner

  • James
  • Ummm. Well, hmmm. Let me put it this way: Can you wait about 10 days to find out? Haha. We have a big announcement, but until then it's a secret. Although now it's not a secret that there is a secret. Shhhh!

  • Spotify definitely pays indie artists. We get a big check from them every month, and then we turn around and put that into the accounts of all the CD Baby artists whose music was streamed through Spotify.

    • sorry, you may get a big check from spotify, but your artists are not. spotify has increasingly come under fire from musicians for their miniscule royalty rate, and many musicians are pulling out of spotify altogether, because you are essentially giving them your music for free.
      i just checked my accounts page. spotify pays .001 for each play. so, you'd need 1,000 plays to make a dollar. to me, that's playing for free. so to make $30 bucks, you'd need 30,0000 plays. anyone out there getting 30,0000 plays per day, month,year?

  • Cool. Thanks for sharing those ideas!

  • George

    Can existing cdbaby artists be involved in this program?? Or do we have to create a seperate account as a cdbaby user/listener?

    • It's a separate account. But artists are more than welcome to join.

  • Guest

    I teach guitar,play in regional working bands and sell my self financed cds on the net,at shows and in various stores….Doing what I can to make it happen and you can too!

  • Skylane300hp

    jango airplay

  • Linda Vee Sado

    Curious if anyone has tried that service that will put you songs on jukeboxes?
    It may have worked on the older ones, but now I see you have to search for songs and they are no longer listed on the front of the units.

  • Dking

    How many T-shirts, or posters can one fan have? When it comes to merchandising, Kiss was the kings of merchandising. I recently caught on TV an interview with Gene Simmons. In it he showed a tour of a wing of his house in which he had on display in display cases which covered the walls of this one room merchandise which Kiss had created to promote themselves. Included was a casket which was signed by each member of the band. My point, when it comes to merchandising, think outside the box.

  • Chris R, CD Baby

    You simply are gorgeous ! Hm; What will I do without you and others like you! For those of you who give freely your abundant knowledge and expertise, may your pockets be always for of your wishes come true

  • Calumwgraham


    • Yes. Love sees no borders. (As long as you can take payment through PayPal!)

  • Anonymous

    I would also like to encourage musicians to step up their game in trying to get paid gigs. Often times venues does pay (or pay what they should) because artists are uncomfortable with being assertive and setting a booking fee. May 2012 a year where you are shamelessly direct with your communication. Ask to be paid what you're worth and be respectful while doing it. HOW TO NEGOTIATE WITH A VENUE THAT SAYS THEY CAN’T PAY YOU

  • Jemimah

    I’m am member of CDBaby and have my music on many sites. I checked out RocketHub and Kickstarter and loved what both sites had to offer aspiring artiists. However, it’s only open to Americans. I’m a Canadian, can they bend the rules? Or are there any similar international sites like this?

  • Check out this site for some other options:

  • Great way for artists to make money, the old school way. Selling CDs. Fans buy them here. Check out the video.

    Exposure this June to 250,000 music lovers will not only put a decent amount of income in your pocket, but grow your fan base exponentially.
    Btw, there is a $250 discount for making a $175 deposit commitment* by Feb. 5th, for your own booth to greet your fans.
    Plus, $10 off the cost of your booth PER referral who also commits* to having a booth. (Limit 5)
    Plus, the biggest artists/ celebrities will be included on the billboard downtown advertising All Music Festival, to the approx. 250,000 music fans attending.

    Send an email to for an application, FAQs and contract.

    Sage Keffer
    Music Row Music Group

    *Deposit commitment/ commits, is defined as a first deposit by Feb 5th and fulfilled agreement. See FAQs for details.

  • no-name

    sell cd’s… duhhhhhh