You’ve got your music out there on all of the major streaming platforms. You’ve even got CDs available for your album.
But your music sales alone aren’t enough for you to live on.
Of course, there are strategies to continue building your fan-base and get more streams and album sales…
But there are also many other ways to generate revenue from your musical abilities outside of just your music. And some of these are low-hanging fruit (now I’m hungry!).
Monetizing Everything You Do
Before we get into the 6 ways you can make more money, let’s talk about monetization.
Everything you do, say, or post needs to have the potential for you to generate revenue from it or ultimately lead to an action that does.
The perfect example is being an affiliate for a product. This is where you promote that product (ex: music or studio gear that you use) and when a purchase is made, you receive a commission.
We’ll talk more about that in detail later.
You want you to get in the habit of making sure that everything you do is monetized in some way, shape, or form. Remember, you have bills to pay, too.
What do ya mean I don’t pay my bills, what do ya think, I’m broke?Dave Mustaine
Now for the good stuff. Here are 6 ways to generate revenue as a musician that you may have not thought of…
1) Giving Instrument and Vocal Lessons
This first one may seem a bit more obvious than the rest we’re going to reveal. But it’s often overlooked.
Whether you’re a singer or instrumentalist, there are people out there waiting for someone like you to show them how to get better. And when you have that kind of talent, it’s a sin not to share it (and get paid for it).
In fact, you may find that many of your fans sing or play an instrument. And those are going to be your hottest potential clients.
It’s almost a no-brainer. They love your music and now they have the opportunity to learn from you to solve their problem or help them progress.
There are a couple of ways you can approach this:
- One-on-one lessons
- Group lessons
I recommend virtual lessons always over in-person lessons. There’s too much extra time associated with physically having to go somewhere (or even having them come to you). So virtual is the way to go.
Group lessons could be even more profitable as long as the group is small and manageable. You may charge a little less per person but you’d ultimately earn more overall.
The caveat to this is there is less personal attention give to one person. But group lessons should be viewed as a workshop or masterclass.
2) Paid Subscriptions
Your superfans are always wanting more and a great way to give them more is by offering fan subscriptions. You can do this through several different platforms such as:
- Set it up through your own website (tech skills are a must here but you keep all of the profits)
You’ll want to provide exclusive content to these fans that they can’t get anywhere else. And you’ll also need to give them a reason to stay subscribed as this is typically a monthly subscription.
**You could also do something similar with your vocal or instrument lessons. Instead of charging per lesson, you could set up a subscription service to where you crank out new lessons each week (or month).
3) Affiliate Revenue
Chances are you already talk about the music gear you use to your fans that are also musicians. You can (and you should) earn revenue from that.
Think of it this way. They’re going to look it up on Amazon or whatever store and purchase it anyway. Why not be a part of that?
This is more extremely low-hanging fruit. And it’s passive.
Most products (instruments, gear, studio equipment, etc.) are sold on Amazon. By being an affiliate (Amazon Associate), you can promote those products and earn commissions when people buy through your link. Some online music stores may offer an affiliate program a well.
There are also companies that will allow you to promote their product and pay you a commission of the sales from your promotions. These are typically higher commissions than Amazon and other big-box stores.
Here is a simple method you can start with:
- Sign-up for your preferred affiliate program (you can choose several, but I recommend starting with one and learning the process first)
- Create a ‘gear we use’ page on your website
- List the gear with a brief description of why each band member uses it
- Create affiliate links for each piece of gear listed
You can place this in your main menu so that it’s always visible to your website visitors. And you can point people to this link when they ask about the equipment you use.
4) Start a YouTube Channel or Expand Your Existing Channel
Starting a YouTube channel for your band or you as a solo artist is a must.
Unlike the other social media platforms, YouTube has a greater organic reach than other platforms. And quality content is rewarded, ongoing.
Think about your last Facebook, Instagram, or Tik Tok video you posted. How long do you think that lasted and how many times do you think it will be viewed later?
Now, there are a few ways to earn revenue from YouTube. Some of these have subscriber and viewer requirements:
- Ad revenue (once you get to a certain number of subscribers and hours watched)
- You can add your opt-in link, your merch shop link, music links, etc. in your YouTube description and give your viewers a call to action in your videos.
- YouTube subscription service (as mentioned earlier)
- Merch through YouTube (ever notice the t-shirts and such at the bottom of videos?)
- Brand deals (this is for larger channels)
I probably missed a few but you can already see how powerful YouTube can be.
On that note, you don’t want to just have your artist or band channel. That’s not to discourage you from creating an artist channel (again, you should).
But unless you’re well known, people aren’t going to be searching for your music on YouTube. So you’re not going to have as much opportunity for these additional revenue sources.
You want to have a channel that’s solving people’s problems and pain points because that’s the type of content people are searching for on YouTube.
How many times have you looked up how to fix something on YouTube? For example, I saved several hundred dollars fixing our washing machine by watching a YouTube video. You probably have a similar story where a YouTube video has helped you solve a problem.
This goes back to giving lessons. For example, if you’re the lead singer for your band or a solo act, you could create a channel that helps others sing better. The same with guitarists, bass players, drummers, etc. There are millions of people waiting for you to show them how to do what you do and solve their problem or pain-point.
***If you’re a solo artist, you may even want to tie these ‘how-to’ videos into your artist channel. I do this (my music plus guitar-related tutorials) and it’s like a 2-for-1 special because my guitarist subscribers naturally want to listen to and support my music.
If you’re in a band, it’s probably best for each band member to have their own separate channel outside of your band’s channel. You know how line-ups can change and that could cause issues down the road.
NOTE: If you’re releasing music through services like CD Baby, Tunecore, Bandcamp, etc. then your music will already be on YouTube Music. If you create your own channel (or already have one), reach out to the digital service that you use and ask them to merge your music with your channel.
5) Go Live and Accept Tips
During the pandemic, you saw many artists and bands (even famous ones) going live on social media. Most social media platforms provide your fans with an option to leave a tip.
You should also give a call to action between songs telling them where to go to leave a tip and support you (ex: ‘Support the feral cats we feed by leaving a tip! There’s a link in the description of this video for tips!’).
You don’t have to always play music when you go live. You could have a Q&A with your fans. They love that stuff! You may actually get more tips with that sort of thing than you do playing music live on social media.
TIP (no pun intended!): Always, always, always give a call to action to your fans. Announcing you accept tips and telling them how every 3-4 songs is a great method. Sure, they’re enjoying your live session but they’re probably multitasking doing other stuff. So you need to lead them to the well.
6) Write an eBook
Writing an eBook can also be low-hanging fruit in your shop. There are a few ways you can go about this:
- Write an eBook that goes with your album (essentially each song could be its own chapter with a story about that song; it could be a fictional story or just sharing the deeper meanings behind each song)
- Create an eBook about the band’s history or your band’s philosophies (this could work well with some sub-genres).
- You can also have lesson-driven and ‘how-to’ eBooks. Those types of products are searchable; people are always looking for them. So if your copy is solid on the sales page, you could be bringing in even more organic traffic to the product page.
The beautiful thing about eBooks is it’s 100% profit! It’s also an easy upsell to your album or practically anything in your shop.
More Than Just Your Music
It’s certainly not unrealistic to make a full-time income from your music. But it’s always best to diversify your income by creating multiple streams of revenue.
As an artist and musician, you have a wealth of talent and skills to share with the world. And again, being in the metal genre you may find that the majority of your fans also play an instrument or sing.
Even if it’s just at the hobby level, they’ll still want to learn from you and get advice from you. And now you have multiple ways to serve those fans.
Not to mention, you’ll gain more new fans this way. And you’ll be helping those existing fans that are interested in your other services. It’s a win-win.
I hope these tips help you create more revenue for your band or you as an artist. Get out there and make it happen!