18 Ways To Make Money As A Musician

make money as a musician
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Last updated on June 26th, 2023 at 08:03 pm

As a musician, it’s tricky to know where to start to bring in an income with your talent. It might feel like a one-in-a-million chance to become a success, but there are more ways than one to make money as a musician who is just starting out. 

If you’re struggling to think of ways to make money as a musician, you’ve come to the right place. Get ready as we dive into 18 of the best ways to make money as a musician.

1. YouTube

Image by Christian Wiediger on Unsplash.

First on our list of ways to make money as a musician is to post yourself on YouTube, then make money from the revenue you earn through ads and viewers. Although you can’t do this singing cover songs, if you’ve got some original ones, give it a go. Artists like Justin Bieber have found success through the unique platform.

2. Providing Lessons

provide lessons
Image by Rachel Loughman on Unsplash

You can also provide lessons for kids, peers, and even adults. Whether you excel at singing or playing an instrument, some people are willing to pay you to teach them what you know. Can’t host people in your home and don’t have a studio? Virtual lessons are taking off thanks to the Master Class platform.

Related: 15 Best Masterclasses for Musicians

3. Selling Merchandise

selling merchandise
Image by Alexander Grey on Unsplash

If you have a decent following, one of the simplest ways to make extra cash is to sell merchandise. These items can include stuffed animals, t-shirts, pants, stickers, water bottles, and any other items people are willing to carry around with your music or name on them. Many platforms will host and ship your designs for a small setup fee and a bit of commission.

4. Picking Up Restaurant Gigs

restaurant gigs
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Many restaurants and coffee shops want live entertainment to create a unique vibe for their customers, so you might be able to freelance and pick up paid gigs at a local eatery. Make sure you pick a location that is conducive to your sound. 

5. Provide Digital Downloads

digital download
Image by Rachit Tank on Unsplash.

If you have a decent following of people who listen to your work, you can sell digital downloads to them for a few bucks each. Not only is it free to create a digital download of your music, but it’s also a great way to make money and get your name out there at the same time. Platforms like Soundcloud support this.

6. Sell Records or Limited Run CDs

sell CDs
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If you prefer a more traditional method of making money as a musician, compile your songs into one album and create Vinyl records, CDs, or tapes to sell to people. Even artists like Taylor Swift started out selling CDs to get noticed. 

7. Performing On The Street 

performing on the street
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If you have the guts to do so, performing on the street (also known as busking) is an excellent way to show the world your voice, provide entertainment, and make money all at once. Busking is most effective if you have an area near your home with a large amount of foot traffic.

8. Add Your Music to Streaming Services

heardle music game
Spotify Logo. Image by Alexander Shatov on Unsplash.

Another of the most popular ways to make money as a musician is to add your music to a streaming platform, whether through Spotify or Apple Music. However, it’s critical to note that you won’t make very much money here unless you have a song that goes viral and gets millions of streams.

9. Sell Your Beats

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You don’t have to make your music to make money, as many people will pay money for a quality beat. You can use your equipment to craft a catchy beat and make a pretty penny by selling the rights to a rapper or singer for their next hit song. This is especially helpful if you are an aspiring DJ.

10. Offer Online Courses

online course
Image by Wes Hicks on Unsplash.

If you have experience in singing or playing, you can create courses online and offer them to interested customers for a fee. Treat these like masterclasses and put care into them and you will easily be able to grow your reputation and make good money while doing it.

Related: What Instrument Should You Learn First?

11. Write for Sync Licensing

recording deal
Image by Lucas Alexander on Unsplash.

Writing for sync licensing purposes can help get your music to a broad audience without needing to try to land a record deal. In sync licensing, you’ll sell your song for use in media, such as a video games and TV.

While there is only a small chance you will hit it big, you will still make cash in the meantime. For this to make you money, however, you will need a large catalog of songs available for purchase.

12. Crowdfund

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Although it isn’t as popular anymore, crowdfunding is an excellent way to raise money for your endeavors as a musician. All you have to do is set up a fundraising opportunity, explain yourself, and share the link on social media. Kickstarter and GoFundMe are the popular crowdfunding sites. 

13. Provide Fan VIP Experiences

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If you have a decent following behind you, add the option of paid VIP fan experiences people can purchase through your site. These can include behind-the-scenes tours of your home studio or backstage passes to a local show. We recommend using Airbnb experiences to offer these to buyers. 

14. Take On Sponsorships

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Another way to earn money is to partner up with sponsors, who will pay you to promote them while paying for you to pursue your music career. This could be a clothing company featured in your music video, or a company logo pasted on a DJ Table. Many musicians have taken on sponsorships, from J Balvin to Taylor Swift.

15. Write For Music Publications

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One of the most popular ways to make money as a musician is to write for a music publication like Rolling Stone (or Music in Minnesota!). Although this option doesn’t involve playing music, you get to write about a topic you have experience in and potentially make connections in different areas of the industry.

16. Do Session Work

session work
Image by Marc Fanelli on Unsplash

Often, bands will come in to record music and need a person to step in to play an instrument. You can offer yourself up to do session work and make money while appearing on some of the most iconic albums of all time. 

Beware, though: you’ll have to be in the top percentile in your instrument to get these gigs.

17. Sell Lyrics

sell lyrics
Image by Calum MaCaulay on Unsplash

You can do more than sell beats – you can also sell lyrics. If you have a knack for writing, craft words and sell them to artists and producers for a good chunk of change.

18. Perform At Weddings and Parties

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Our final suggestion in the many ways to make money as a musician is to perform at weddings and parties as a talent, whether that’s by yourself or with a band. Every gathering needs good music, and you can get paid to entertain an entire room.

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Written by Hope Davis

Long-time music lover Hope became a full-time writer in 2020 after being laid off from her regular job due to COVID-19. She now spends her time traveling the world to see her favorite bands while writing about them!


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