So you want to be a professional musician?
It ain’t easy my friend! But if you can succeed, it is a very enjoyable and creative way of earning money.
Nothing beats the satisfaction of earning money from something you enjoy, and giving pleasure to other people!
It may be some time before you can ‘give up the day job’, and you might need a little bit of creative thinking to get you on the road to success.
There are a lot of ways musicians make money.
Here are a few ideas to help you get off the starving artist path:
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What will I learn?
1. Try YouTube
If you are looking for a way to make money online as a musician, you need to take a look at YouTube. The video-sharing giant has led a lot of people including Lana Del Rey to stardom. Justin Bieber was also discovered on YouTube!
The beauty of using YouTube as a platform is that it’s free, you don’t need to know anyone in the industry, and you can try over and over again. If your music is good, you will be found!
Try to get your own gigs (live performance venues). It is a good idea to have a website which features some examples of your talent. Then you can direct potential employers to your site. Trundle yourself around various clubs, pubs, etc – take your laptop and hope they’ve got free WiFi so they can see your work.
There are a few different options for gathering your fee: straight fees, door sale splits, or even donations from your audience. Hopefully, your client might do any advertising as part of theirs.
You won’t be in a position to expect large fees if you are a relative unknown. Maybe even offer a trial run, or consider offering your services for some charity work to get yourself known.
No matter how little you earn when you start, take the long term view, and concentrate on building your reputation to greatness!
Make sure all parties are in agreement with the terms of the ‘gig’. Fit in with their work environment, and ask your client to write a recommendation on your website if they are happy,
3. Sell Your Own Compositions
You know you’re good, but do they?
Building the demand with fans and putting yourself out there is critical.
You need to be readily accessible through all media platforms, and you may choose to set this up yourself, or find a friendly aggregator to do it all.
- Check that your website is set to maximum search optimization.
- Have reasonably priced CR-Rs (clearly labelled as CD-R) ready to sell at all your gigs, or online.
- Some local record shops might accept your CD-Rs on consignment.
4. Sell Merchandise
This can be a great way of earning extra money, but don’t get carried away with expensive purchases until you’re sure there’s a demand. Make your own items ( of good quality – t-shirts, buttons, etc,) for resale at gigs (harness the hysteria after your show) or website.
Be careful that your overheads on these items are low – you don’t want to have to price them too high to make a reasonable margin!
But then, any advertising is good advertising, and maybe you can afford to have some giveaways!
5. Play as a Session Musician
You already know you have talent, but working with other musicians can further hone your skills, and also help create a useful network for you. It is also a way to help make ends meet before you can fly solo!
I personally know professional musicians who play solo, as duets, as quartets, etc – sometimes a full blown band! Whatever the customer wants – they do it – with great success!
6. Musical Odd Jobs
According to a recent Music Career Salary report by Berklee College of Music, $55,561 per year is what an average musician earns in a year. Moreover, over half of the artists who participated in the study said they earn that income from three or more music related jobs.
Be prepared to do anything in the music world if it will put you out there or bring in funds. There are lots of musician jobs out there. Use your talent and knowledge to help others, and sometimes you can even get paid for it!
Playing guitar on the street may not be the best way for musicians to make money, and most artists who take on that challenge may not be able to make a living as musicians, but they sure can make a little extra money while enjoying themselves and sharing the joy with others.
Production work, musical arrangements, arranging shows, artwork, websites, teaching, sell programs/merchandise.
Think big, think outside the box, make money, and more contacts!
7. Enter Local Talent Shows
This will give you great exposure – especially if you win!
Remember that at some stage you will probably have to declare your income, so make sure you have good financial advice in this area and don’t get on the wrong side of the Tax Man.
Only you will know if it is time to get out there as a full time professional, dependent on your situation – though some of us may need a little push!
So, tune your instrument, get out there, and make some music and money!