How To Make Money With Music Online

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  • Learn how to diversify your streams of income as a musician/producer.
  • Learn ways to increase your online presence and boost your fanbase digitally.
  • Learn new live-streaming options you can use to perform from your own home.

5 Ways Musicians Can Make Money Online

2020 has been a whirlwind of change for the entire world.

The incident has changed the way people go about their lives globally, with virtually all public events and gatherings being cancelled indefinitely for the immediate future.

This has led to an almost complete shutdown of the live event industry and the global music industry as a whole.

This comes at a crucial time when the music industry has been gearing up for the busiest seasons of the year, with countless tours and huge music festivals worldwide being cancelled or postponed, and the industry largely grinding to a complete halt.

Fortunately, there are still plenty of ways for musicians, producers and the industry as a whole to continue building their careers through the magic of the internet.

1. Patreon

Recommended for: Artists looking to give an established fanbase incentives/exclusive performances, Established producers/engineers who want to teach others about their methods

Patreon is a relatively new social media platform that essentially allows you to create a subscription content service to your own art/business.

For example, if you’re a musician, you set up an account and you say you’re going to play a 2 hour show on the site once a week.

You then post to your other social media accounts saying that you can watch the show if you subscribe to your artist Patreon.

Find out more about Patreon here.

While it’s a little bit of a commitment on both the artist and fan’s end, if you make that commitment you’ll reap the reward of fans who are giving you money to perform every month.

I think this is a great route for artists that are established in multiple markets that want to help build a consistent income for themselves, and right now when you can’t go on tour it’s a great way for you to be able to perform for your fans all over the place, from the comfort of your couch/studio/wherever you make music at home.

This is also a cool idea for producers, because you can sell your Patreon event as something like “I will share access with my <project’s> session”, or you can remix a fan’s request song on the site if they make a larger donation.

As long as you can come up with good content to put on the patreon it’s a great option for making some $ and growing your fanbase from home.

2. Twitch

Recommended for: Artists looking to monetize performances, Producers, DJs, Bands etc

While Twitch is marketed primarily as a website for gamers to livestream their online play, it is gaining traction as a platform for all types of artists to live-stream content.

But what sets it apart is their focus on helping you make money from your performance. It’s similar to Patreon in that you can have subscription based content, but it’s also free to simply watch, with a layout very similar to YouTube/most live streaming websites.

Twitch creators also get paid for running ads on their streams. CNBC cites that your split of subscriber revenue will average around $250USD per 100 subscribers, per month. Or if you go by views, it could average around $0.25-$1.50 per 1,000 views.

Since Twitch is owned by Amazon, users have the options to simply connect their Amazon Prime account to subscribe to an artist, which is really convenient.

There is also an option to have donations sent directly to performers through the page.

While you might be able to simply reach more people with your content through a Facebook or Instagram live video, Twitch is a much better option if you are looking to monetize your content.

Twitch is also a great platform to create an organized schedule of different content that’s easy to view in one place. Lots of DJs and producers are scheduling different things for different days of the week, for example, on Monday they are streaming them producing a track, Tuesday they’re doing a remix, Friday doing a live DJ set, etc.

You can also schedule a different time of day to do said live-streams, which means you can effectively create a platform to showcase all of your different skills and easily have the ability to make some money off it.

P.S. Check out this guide on how to get setup as a DJ on Twitch, on the cheap.

3. Fiverr

Recommended for: Musicians, Vocalists, Producers, Mastering Engineers

Fiverr is an online marketplace where users can sign up and have access to a range of freelance services. Conversely, anyone with a skillset to sell can also sign up to become a freelancer and take advantage of their massive database of customers.

There is no fee to sign up as a seller, but they do take 20% of every sale. That means for every $5 you make, they take $1.

A growing number of musicians are setting up shop on Fiverr, and there’s some serious talent there. It can be argued that it’s a bit saturated now, but if you narrow down your niche (e.g. promote yourself as a math rock guitarist, instead of just ‘guitarist’), you have a chance of cutting through the noise.

Think of it this way:

If you’re a metal band, would you want to hire average Joe who is an all-round mastering engineer, or Mike who’s been mastering metal bands for the past 15 years?

Obviously, you’d hire Mike because he is a specialist in the genre of metal.

4. Youtube

Recommended for: Producers working on remixes, Mix Engineers who want to give tips, Musicians who want to teach, Musicians who want to review gear

If you run ads on your videos and you develop a good following on the content that you post, YouYube will pay you through their Youtube Partner Program (YPP).

With this program there is a somewhat high threshold of entry, as you have to meet some minimum requirements before you’re able to join the program. Currently, you need to amass 4000 watch hours and 1000 subscribers to become eligible.

However, not all is lost. You can partner up with Affiliate networks like Amazon Associates Program, which will allow you to put affiliate links in your YouTube video description. When someone clicks on that affiliate link, you’ll gain a certain percentage revenue share for referring the sale. A typical strategy is to do a YouTube review of a product, then encourage people to use your link down in the description so you get compensated for anyone you’ve convinced to buy the product.

If you’re making mix tutorials and reach for certain plug-ins all the time, you’ll also probably attract the attention of the makers of those plug-ins and they might even pay you for using them in the video, or maybe give you a sweet discount on more of their products that you wouldn’t be able to get through a regular purchase.

If you’re a musician who loves to teach others, you can host tutorials and build an audience that way. Musicians are always looking for inspiration, reviews, and tips from their peers, so you can use what you already know to your advantage and even turn a profit from it.

Like I said before, this route is much more of a long game, so you’re probably going to have to put a lot into it at the start to make the videos and build a following before you’ll really start to see any return, but it’s definitely a worthwhile investment.

You can make a bunch of videos while you’re stuck at home, and spread out their release over time once you get the channel up and running.

5. Facebook Live/Instagram

Recommended for: Artists who are itching to perform right now since you’ve already got these pages setup for yourself.

With literally a click of a button you can be live on your own page for followers to see what you’re doing.

While Facebook/Instagram doesn’t have a way for you to directly take money for your live videos in the site, it’s super easy to post up donation links via Paypal, Venmo, etc when you go live.

If you’re a musician who teaches lessons, you can go live to share something you want to teach to your followers/friends, and you can use that to help gain new students for yourself.

Facebook groups also allow for people to share themselves going live. This is great for those of you who are still trying to build an audience, as it will expose you to thousands of people who have never heard of you.

One page I’ve found, called Socially Distant Fest, has already amassed over 50k members since it launched about a week ago, and it is organized in a fantastic way for anyone to perform live.

The page does have a few rules and regulations to follow for your performance, but it is designed to both keep the virtual “stage” free enough for performers to get more viewers and to prevent performers from over-promoting themselves on the page. It’s essentially a digital music festival, which is an ingenious idea for the time we’re living in right now.

Final Thoughts

While this new era might seem to be a disheartening period for the music industry, I hope some of these tips give you ideas to help you diversify your streams of income and support yourself and your families.

It’s also a great time to take a step back and look at your bigger picture goals in the music industry as a whole and refine your own performing models.

While these different threads of digital performance are great options to keep yourself performing when you can’t play a real live show, there is nothing stopping you from continuing these performances once we can go see a show at a venue again.

The biggest thing to take away from all of this is to not get disheartened by a scary situation and continue to adapt and innovate as best you can.