We live in interesting times when it comes to music! Technology has truly changed the music business landscape and there are now more ways to make money with music than ever before. It takes even more talent, drive, dedication, and hard work to make it actually happen than before, but it is possible.
The music industry is not for the faint-hearted. But if you are truly passionate about a career in music then it can be one of the most rewarding things to do in your life. And like one of my dear mentors Ralph Murphy (R.I.P.) said, “it’s not about the money, but it’s about the money.” When you make money with music it validates your creative efforts.
Best Ways To Make Money With Music: The Dream
All independent artists want more from their music career than just some extra money; the dream is to make your full time living from it.
The Dream Is Possible
I’m here to tell you, it’s possible and realistic. You already have the first requirement covered if you’re passionate and driven. That burning desire will take you to great places if you’re willing to put in the work.
My career is the proof. I’ve worked incredibly hard, I’ve failed many times along the way, but I still ‘made it’. Of course everyone has a different definition of ‘making it’; some would say you’ve made it once you’ve received a Grammy for your original work. Others might say it’s when you can relatively reliably support yourself from music.
I’ve had some big hits and projects that did very well. But overall looking at my journey, the main success is that even in the worst month, I still live on music 100%.
I wrote this article to maybe inspire you to push forward on your own journey. Don’be discouraged when difficulties come along. If you haven’t failed yet, you’re not trying hard enough. Failure is when you learn.
Believe in yourself, feed your hunger and passion for music, focus on that fire, and push forward.
Also learn the business of music. Think like an entrepreneur when it comes to any business aspect of your career.
What Are the Best Ways to Make Money with Music in 2023?
The key is identifying where your talents, goals, and industry opportunities overlap. Are you a natural performer, or do you prefer working in the background? Are you artistic and creative, or do you enjoy business negotiations, legal procedures, dealing with numbers, or managing others?
All these talents, and more, have a place in the music industry, and all can make you money.
“I like all music. The only music I don’t like is bad music.“
A songwriter is a musician who writes lyrics and/or composes music for songs. They may work independently or collaborate with other musicians, and their goal is to create music that resonates with listeners on an emotional or intellectual level.
You can monetize your music by self-publishing or working with a publisher. To get started, build a simple home studio setup, add some soundproofing and get a quality microphone. Then, work on your craft. Every day. Keep studying and perfecting it. Write songs every day.
Learning the basics of playing acoustic or electric guitar would also be extremely helpful, as a guitar is a very commonly used instrument for songwriting.
The key is to learn the craft of songwriting and eventually be able to write great songs. Then just repeat.
I highly recommend cowriting. Most of the top hits in the world are cowritten by 2 or more writers. It will also challenge and inspire you, and help push your craft to new levels.
A composer is a musician who creates original music. They may work in a variety of genres, from classical to electronic to film scoring, and are responsible for writing, arranging, and sometimes conducting the music they create.
You’ll need to set up a studio with a powerful computer, professional quality studio monitors, a MIDI controller keyboard, and one or more large displays.
Composers work in all media including films, tv, ads, trailers, promo spots, video games, virtual and mixed reality, and more.
Set up your own website and promote your services and music catalog there. Great music is always in demand. The key is to create your network in the industry so you can market your music to the right people.
3. License Your Works
One of the best ways to make money with music is to license your works. If you’ve written a song or composed a piece of music, you can license that work for various uses: Movies, TV shows, ads, movie trailers, short films, social media platforms, video games, and more.
Good music is always needed. there are many different ways to do this; you can promote your own catalog of songs directly to music supervisors, film and TV producers and directors, ad agencies etc. Or, you can get an agent or a publisher who can market your catalog for you.
4. Start a Record Label
A record label works to discover, sign, and promote artists in order to release and distribute their music to the public. Record labels provide a variety of services to artists, including funding for recording and production, marketing and promotion, and distribution to various retail and streaming platforms.
If you’re passionate about music business then a record label could be a greaet option. You’ll need to network with artists, producers, music lawyers, promoters, managers and everyone else that could play a part in promoting and releasing music. You need to follow trends of music today and look for opportunities with talented new artists who fit the direction your label wants to promote.
Monetize digital downloads and create revenue streams for your artists from live streams, live events, Apple Music, Spotify, Google Play, Amazon Music etc music platforms.
5. Cover Band
A cover band is a musical group that performs songs that were originally written and recorded by other artists. Cover bands often play popular songs from a variety of genres and time periods, and may add their own unique style or interpretation to the music. This is a great way to make money with music in the beginning stages of your career, though you can actually create a full time career out of it too.
6. Record Cover Songs
Recordings of famous cover songs can be licensed for use in films, TV shows, ads, trailers and games. While the original recording by the original artist could cost millions of dollars to license, your version of it, a new master recording, can be licensed for situations that might not have the budget to pay for the original master.
7. Wedding Artist
A wedding artist is a musician or performer who provides entertainment for wedding ceremonies, receptions, or other wedding-related events. They may offer a wide range of musical styles and services, such as ceremony music, cocktail hour entertainment, DJ services, or live performances for the reception.
If you’re a pianist, all you need is a digital piano and quality speakers and you’re set for wedding gigs. Depending on the gig you need to choose between a piano and a keyboard.
You can also come up with a different setlist and target corporate events which can pay real money.
8. Performing Artist
A performing artist is a professional who showcases their musical talents and skills to a live audience through various forms of performance, such as concerts, recitals, festivals, and theater productions. They may specialize in a particular genre, instrument, or style, and can work as solo performers, session musicians, or members of a band or orchestra.
You can be a solo artist or a part of a band. Study great performers in the genre you’re in and learn from them. Become the best performer ever. Start from live gigs at your local venues and private parties, and build up to national tours. Set up merch sales at your gigs.
Along the way, you’ll meet people. Stay in contact with the good ones. Build your network because, eventually, you’ll need a team around you, and you’ll need to draw on your contacts to build up and big.
9. Booking Agent
A music booking agent is a professional who acts as a liaison between artists or bands and the venues or events where they perform. They negotiate and book gigs, tours, and festivals for their clients, and work to build relationships with promoters, club owners, and other industry professionals to secure the best possible opportunities.
10. Artist Manager
An artist manager is a professional who represents and advises musicians, singers, or bands on their career development, business strategy, and industry relationships. They work to secure opportunities such as performances, recordings, and endorsements, and negotiate contracts and deals on behalf of their clients.
Promoters spread the word about events, they are vital for filling the venue when an artist has been booked to perform there. Being a promoter for others is a great way to make money with music if you enjoy marketing related work.
12. Entertainment Lawyer
If legal work is your thing, this is a great career path to choose. Quality lawyers are extremely important and can make or break a deal. Trusted music industry lawyers are often also one of the best ways to approach a label if you’re for example representing an artist or you’re an artist yourself looking for a label deal.
Expertise in copyright law and other legal areas covering artists, production, touring etc. are all highly needed.
13. Entertainment Accountant
Taxes. No way around it. Accountants who are familiar with the intricacies of the entertainment industry are invaluable assets to anyone working in the music industry.
14. Social Media Influencer
Today social media influencers are an important part of promoting new music. Someone with a large social media following can leverage their position and make deals to promote music, artists and products. All you need is a laptop and a phone, and you can start your influencer career.
Creating original content for your fan base can create income streams from brand sponsorship deals.
15. Social Media Artist
Today there are artists who have created their careers solely based on social media. TikTok artists can have millions of followers. They can promote their shows and sell their music and products directly to their fanbase without a middleman.
16. Start a YouTube Channel
This is another way to gain a direct audience. Artists, producers, composers, engineers, lawyers, etc. can promote their work and create a following on YouTube. All you need to get started is a space with a professional look to shoot content: a quality desk and desktop, a backdrop relating to your line of work like your studio gear if you’re a producer, some quality lighting, and your phone on a stand. You can even get an affordable laptop for video editing to get you started.
17. Music blogger/vlogger
Music bloggers and vloggers can earn money by creating and sharing content about music, such as reviews, interviews, and commentary. Get a quality microphone and learn how to handle background noise while recording, or get a noise-reducing microphone so you capture the best possible quality audio.
You can monetize your blog through affiliate marketing, and sell products like sample packs and online courses. Live streaming on the social media platforms can generate a big following if your content is interesting and fresh, and that can in return increase your product and course sales.
18. Teach at a Local Music School
Teaching at a local music school can be a rewarding opportunity for musicians and music educators who enjoy sharing their knowledge and skills with aspiring students. It’s a great way to make money with music while also providing opportunities to network with other musicians and educators, and the satisfaction of helping students develop their musical abilities.
19. Give Private Lessons on an Instrument
This is a great way to make money with music anywhere from supplemental to full-time income depending on how much you want to work. You could then take your teaching materials and make YouTube videos on a YouTube channel, or create an online course and sell it on your Music Blog.
Bass and guitar are some of the most popular instruments for anyone wanting to form or join a band and both can be taught in person or online.
Music lessons are a good way to earn extra income or grow it into a full time job. Depends on what your goals are.
20. Sell Used Instruments
Buying and selling used instruments is a great way to make money if you know how to spot deals and you know the history of the instruments in question. Vintage guitars or antique pianos can be worth a lot of money, and there are much specialized music gear with a great used market value, like keyboards, ukuleles, microphones, drum gear, and especially drum pedals.
Classical and acoustic guitars are also popular among beginner guitarists looking to buy their first instrument. Classic electric guitars with P90 pickups are another hot item.
21. Private Tutoring
Private tutoring in music involves a personalized and one-on-one approach to teaching music, with a focus on the student’s specific needs and goals. The tutor can provide instruction in various aspects of music education, such as instrument or vocal training, music theory, composition, and performance skills.
A music publicist helps promote and generate publicity for musicians, bands, and other industry professionals. They work to create buzz and raise awareness about new releases, tours, and other music-related events, and may use various channels such as press releases, media kits, and social media to reach their target audience.
23. Singing Lessons
Vocal training that focuses on teaching students the fundamentals of singing, such as breath control, pitch accuracy, tone quality, and range extension. Singing lessons can be tailored to individual needs and goals, and can benefit singers of all levels and styles. If you’re an experienced singer yourself it’s also a great way to make money with music while pursuing your own singing career.
24. Vocal Coaching
Vocal coaching is a process of teaching and training singers to improve their vocal technique, performance skills, and overall sound. Vocal coaches may work with singers of all levels and genres, providing guidance on breathing, posture, diction, range, and expression.
25. Session Musician
A session musician is a professional musician who is hired to play or sing on a recording or live performance, typically by a producer or artist. They are skilled at quickly learning and performing various musical styles and may work on a freelance basis or be affiliated with a studio or agency.
Session work is also an excellent way to get in front of other music professionals, like producers, artists, songwriters, bands and others who might need to hire professional musicians.
26. Online Session Musician
Provides remote recording services for clients through online platforms on the instruments and genres that you specialize in. They are typically hired by musicians, producers, and other industry professionals to contribute to their recordings. Online session musicians are in much higher demand in the post-pandemic world and it’s definitely a great way to make money with music.
28. Create Online Music Courses
Develop a comprehensive curriculum and teaching materials that cover various aspects of music, such as theory, production, performance, and business. The courses can be delivered through various platforms and provide a flexible and accessible learning experience for students around the world.
29. Record Producer
Record producers can earn money by producing albums, singles, and other music recordings for artists. They can also earn royalties from the sales of those recordings. You’re also a talented songwriter then as the producer you often get opportunities to co-write the songs you work on.
Set up a home recording studio, get a versatile modeling microphone or a few different microphones, and learn all the production and engineering techniques. Work on your vocal production skills, like recording, guiding the artist so you get the best possible takes, and pitch correction.
Music producer is one of the most important jobs when it comes to creating hit songs.
30. Record Label Executive
Record label executives can earn money by signing and promoting artists, distributing their music, and managing their careers.
31. Music Publisher
Music publishers can earn money by licensing and distributing songs to other artists, film studios, and advertisers.
32. Music Teacher
Music teachers can earn money by giving private lessons, teaching at schools or universities, or creating online courses.
33. Music Therapist
Music therapists can earn money by helping clients improve their physical, emotional, and mental health through music. This is an interesting way to use music to help others and that makes it a great way to make money with music.
34. Sound Engineer
Sound engineers can earn money by recording and mixing music, sound effects, and voiceovers for movies, TV shows, and other media, and they can work as a mixing engineer for live shows. Mixing is an art that cannot be learned overnight and so there’s a huge market for quality sound engineers.
Good mixing engineers often get hired regularly by churches, clubs, restaurants and other live music venues. Recording a church choir for example can be a great regular gig.
The skills to dial in key mix elements like the bass, kick or snare drums, or piano will immediately set you up for success. Also, make sure you learn to deliver balanced mixes that translate from small earbuds like AirPod Pro to car stereos, to full speaker systems with subs.
35. Tour Manager
Tour managers can earn money by planning and coordinating tours for musicians and bands. They are vital for the success of a tour.
36. Music Journalist
Music journalists can make money with music by writing articles, reviews, and interviews about musicians, bands, and the music industry.
38. Merchandise Sales
Musicians and bands can earn money by selling merchandise such as T-shirts, hats, and posters with their branding on them.
39. Music Arranger
Music arrangers can earn money by creating new arrangements of existing songs for artists or for use in movies, TV shows, and other media.
40. Sound Designer
Sound designers can earn money by creating sound effects and soundscapes for movies, TV shows, and other media.
41. Music Festival Promoter
Music festival promoters can earn money by organizing and promoting large-scale music festivals, booking artists, and selling tickets.
42. Concert Promoter
Concert promoters can earn money by booking and promoting concerts for individual artists or groups.
43. Music Supervisor
A music supervisor is responsible for selecting and licensing music for use in various media, such as film, television, video games, and advertising. They work closely with directors, producers, and music publishers to ensure that the music chosen enhances the overall production and meets legal and budgetary requirements.
44. Music Attorney
Music attorneys can earn money by providing legal services to musicians, record labels, and other music industry professionals.
45. Music Business Manager
“The music business is a cruel and shallow money trench, a long plastic hallway where thieves and pimps run free, and good men die like dogs. There’s also a negative side.”
Hunter S. Thompson
Music business managers can earn money by handling financial and business matters for musicians, such as negotiating contracts and managing investments.
46. Music App Developer
Music app developers can earn money by creating and selling music-related apps, such as music production software, music education apps, or music streaming services.
47. Music Instrument Maker
Music instrument makers can earn money by designing and producing musical instruments, such as guitars, drums, and pianos. Custom guitars for examples have become popular in the recent years on the emergence of a new generation of guitarists.
48. Music Store Owner
Music store owners can earn money by selling musical instruments, accessories, and sheet music. There are countless products that work well for both in-store and online sales.
Musical instruments also need maintenance and spare parts. Guitarists replace their strings regularly and often purchase picks and other maintenance-related gear. Guitar humidifiers are extremely important for cold winter months and dry regions.
Musician earplugs are also an accessory every musician and concert goer needs. Studio equipment is another hot ticket.
Music stores will always be needed, no matter what happens with the music industry. The future of music stores is most definitely online so make sure you set up a professional online store.
49. Music Venue Owner
Music venue owners can earn money by operating and renting out music venues, such as clubs, theaters, and concert halls. The up-front investment can be fairly expensive as you’ll need to rent or buy the space, and get all the stage gear for live performances: stage microphones, audio snakes, cables, mixing desk and a PA system.
50. Music Curator
Music curators can earn money by creating playlists, radio shows, and other collections of music for streaming services, radio stations, and other platforms.
51. Music Distributor
Music distributors can earn money by distributing music recordings to streaming services, record stores, and other outlets.
52. Music Archivist
Music archivists can earn money by preserving and cataloging historical recordings, sheet music, and other music-related documents.
53. Music Photographer
Music photographers can earn money by taking photos of musicians and bands for album covers, promotional materials, and live performances.
54. Music Venue Sound Technician
Music venue sound technicians can earn money by setting up and running sound systems for live performances in music venues.
55. Music Festival Merchandise Vendor
Music festival merchandise vendors can earn money by selling merchandise at music festivals, such as T-shirts, hats, and posters.
56. Music Licensing Agent
Music licensing agents can earn money by negotiating and securing licenses for music to be used in movies, TV shows, commercials, and other media.
57. Music Archivist
Music archivists can earn money by preserving and cataloging historical recordings, sheet music, and other music-related documents.
58. Music Event Coordinator
Music event coordinators can earn money by organizing and managing music-related events, such as album launches, listening parties, and record store signings.
59. Music Data Analyst
Music data analysts can earn money by analyzing and interpreting data related to music sales, streaming, and other metrics.
60. Music Software Engineer
Music software engineers can earn money by developing software for music production, recording, and other applications.
61. Music Licensing Manager
Music licensing managers can earn money by managing and coordinating music licensing deals for artists and record labels.
62. Music Therapist
Music therapists can earn money by using music to help individuals with physical, emotional, and cognitive challenges.
63. Music Researcher
Music researchers can earn money by conducting research into various aspects of music, such as its history, cultural significance, and impact on society.
64. Music Equipment Rental Company
Music equipment rental companies can earn money by renting out musical instruments, sound systems, and other equipment to musicians and music industry professionals. Guitars and basses, amps, mixing desks, live light setups, microphones, popular percussion like the Djembe drums, drum kits, drum pedals, keyboards, etc., all are often rented by touring bands and event organizers.
65. Music Merchandise Manufacturer
Music merchandise manufacturers can earn money by producing and selling merchandise featuring musicians and bands, such as T-shirts, hats, and posters.
66. Music Video Director
A music video director oversees the creative direction and production of music videos. They work closely with the artist or record label to develop a concept, storyboard, and visual style for the video and manage a team of designers, cinematographers, and editors to bring the vision to life.
A musicologist is a professional who studies music in a scholarly and systematic way, analyzing its history, culture, theory, and social context. They may work in various settings, such as academia, museums, libraries, or media, and their research can inform and enhance the understanding and appreciation of music by scholars, musicians, and the general public.
68. Rent Band Rehearsal Space
Bands need rehearsal space and equipment. You can rent rooms and equipment by the hour and charge extra fees for equipment like microphones, instruments, amps, drum kits and drum pedals. You can also set up a vending machine and sell replacement strings, picks, and other maintenance-related parts.
69. Become a Voice-over Artist
A voice-over artist is a performer who provides voice-overs for various media, including television, film, and radio. They use their voice to convey a message or character, often recording in a studio setting. While voice-over work is not directly in music, it gets you working with the same tools and connects you with the stakeholders who also work with music. Several options for great microphones on a budget work well for voice-over work. Check out this comparison between two great Blue microphones.
70. Start a Voice-over Studio
Start a voice-over studio that provides voice-over recording, editing, and mixing services, and market your own voice and other talent to production companies, filmmakers, ad agencies, and other businesses. While voice-over work is not directly in music, it gets you working with the same tools and with connects you with the stake holders who also work with music. You only need minimal gear for a voice-over studio; a quality microphone being the most important.
71. Start a Recording Studio
The studio can provide services such as recording, mixing, mastering, and production for various types of clients, such as musicians, filmmakers, and businesses.
A tour roadie is a member of a music production crew who travels with a band to help set up and operate equipment during live performances.
73. Tour Bus Driver
A tour bus driver is responsible for driving the tour bus carrying the band or musicians to different locations on tour. They ensure the safety of the passengers and may also be responsible for some basic maintenance and upkeep of the bus.
74. Guitar Tech
A guitar tech is responsible for maintaining, tuning, and repairing guitars and other stringed instruments used by musicians on tour or in the studio. They may also assist with setting up equipment and ensuring that the instruments are in good condition for performances.
75. Drum Tech
A drum tech is responsible for maintaining, tuning, and setting up drum kits for musicians in live performances or recording sessions. They may also assist with other equipment and ensuring that the drummer’s needs are met.
76. Keyboard Tech
A keyboard tech is responsible for maintaining, setting up, and troubleshooting keyboard instruments used by musicians on tour or in the studio. They may also assist with other equipment and ensure that the keyboardist’s needs are met.
77. Mastering Engineer
A mastering engineer is responsible for putting the final touches on a music recording by balancing and optimizing the levels and frequencies to create a polished finished product.
78. Music Arranger
A music arranger is responsible for creating arrangements of songs, including instrumentation, harmonies, and structure, to enhance the performance and create a unique sound.
79. Composer Assistant
A composer assistant supports a composer, including research, administrative tasks, tech maintenance, and assisting with creating and producing music. You’ll learn how professional composers work, what daily administrative tasks are required, how to build and configure computers and various studio gear, and finally, how a composer’s creative and production process works.
80. Studio Assistant
A studio assistant supports the recording process by setting up equipment, managing supplies, and assisting with other tasks to ensure a smooth recording session.
81. Personal Assistant
A personal assistant provides administrative and personal support to a musician or industry professional, including scheduling, managing communication, and other tasks to help them stay organized and focused.
A receptionist at a studio, label, publisher or other music industry related businesses greets visitors, answers phones, and performs administrative tasks to ensure the smooth operation of the business.
83. Create New Music Software
Software for production or composition, virtual instrument plugins, music notation, music theory or ear training, audio analysis, interactive software that allows users to collaborate in real time, music marketing software
84. Sell or Rent Beats
Renting or selling beats involves a producer allowing a musician or artist to use their musical composition for a fee, which can be a one-time payment or a recurring fee. The producer retains the ownership of the beat and may place certain restrictions on its use.
85. Create Samples
Creating samples for music use involves recording and processing short snippets of audio from various sources, such as instruments, vocals, or environmental sounds, to be used as building blocks in music production. The samples can be manipulated and arranged in digital audio workstations to create unique musical compositions.
86. Write a Book
Research and compile information on your area of expertise in music or the music business, such as history, theory, or entrepreneurship. You could also share your own experiences and insights, and offer advice or commentary on the current state and future of the industry.
87. Piano Tuner
Pianos require regular tuning, repairs, and adjustments. They use specialized tools and techniques to ensure that the strings, hammers, and other piano components function properly and produce high-quality sound. Piano tuning pricing ranges depending on the experience of the tuning professional.
88. Buy and Sell Vinyl Records
Vinyl record sales have increased in recent years, and many music fans are choosing to purchase their favorite artists’ collectible records on vinyl. This business can be profitable for those with knowledge of the market and a passion for music and can involve acquiring and selling rare or valuable records.
89. Customize Instruments
Provide instrument customization services for customers and sell used instruments refinished with custom paint jobs, wraps, and other finishes. If you have the skills, there’s a market for revitalizing old instruments or giving a new, unique look to an artist or band’s instruments.
Frequently Asked Questions
What advice do you have in getting started with any of the jobs you listed?
The first thing to do is to look within your immediate network around you. Your family, friends and friends of friends. You’d be surprised, most likely you’re one or two steps away from a music professional already.
In addition to that, you need to start creating a network of people in the music industry, and closer to the target area you’re interested in the better. And by network I mean start making a true human connection with people you meet in the industry.
They’re all people after all. Make real friends. Don’t ask for something, just make friends. Things will naturally proceed that way once they get to know you and realize you’re passionate in the same things they are.
I just want to make art and have someone else deal with the business so I can still make money with music. Can I do that?
The short answer is yes. You can have someone else deal with all of the business aspects and while you focus on the art, you can still make money with music.
The long answer is yes, kind of, however it’s very, very difficult to achieve without getting involved in the business side of things. It would be in your own benefit to start thinking of yourself as two separate people: the artist and the business person.
The artist-you can do the artist thing and live the art of music. And the business-you person should think like an entrepreneur, and small business owner, a start-up.
It takes talent, dedication, drive, determination, and most of all, love of music to make money with music. But most of all, it takes hard work. A career in music will take a different path for everyone and it completely depends on your talents and areas of interest and expertise.
It’s important to pick an area of the industry that fits your talents, personality, and goals in life. If you’re not sure about a specific area but know you want to be working in the industry then working as an assistant or one of the many other starting positions is a great way to go. It will eventually lead to jobs with more responsibility and opportunities.
Adaptability is another important quality to have; be ready to adapt to the ever-changing industry. Especially AI and technology in general is going to keep changing music and how we work on music. The speed of change will continue accelerating. If you can adapt, you can not only survive, but thrive.
The same basic rules still apply; When starting it’s important to find a mentor and to be working in an environment where you can observe, learn and meet people in the industry. You’ll quickly start learning what your area of interest is and then you can work towards that goal.
Hard work always wins. So, put your head down, brew a cup of your favorite coffee and push forward.