The music industry is one of the most lucrative, yet competitive, fields you can enter as a hobby. However, it can still be a challenge learning how to make money in music. While it’s true that you won’t become rich from music alone, depending on it as a source of income can put you in the black faster than you might imagine.
Even with digital downloads steadily declining and songwriting becoming more and more accessible to virtually anyone with an internet connection, the demand for new and original music never goes away. And thanks to the abundance of websites dedicated to helping aspiring musicians get their start, becoming a songwriter has never been easier.
In this article we’ll take a look at some of the basic things you need to know before diving into the world of making money from your music skills if that’s something that interests you.
How do you make money in music?
As we’ve mentioned, the most common way to earn money as a songwriter is through royalties — the percentage of each sale that goes to the author of the song. In order to become a successful songwriter, though, you’ll also need to think about other ways to make money.
There are a number of ways that you can monetize your talents and make a little bit of extra cash while at the same time enjoying the craft of songwriting. You can also look into some side hustles that you can do while waiting for the next big hit or while you’re taking a break from the hustle to recharge.
Being a songwriter isn’t enough
If you’re just hoping to make a living writing songs and hoping that someone will hear them and buy the resulting albums, you’re going to be disappointed. You have to have other revenue streams coming in to support your songwriting income. For example, one of the best ways to make money as a songwriter is to sign a publishing deal.
A publishing deal is where you agree to let someone own the copyright to your songs, even though you’ll still receive a portion of each song sale.
What’s great about this arrangement is that you don’t have to actually write the songs themselves. Under a publishing deal, you’ll receive a percentage of each song sale made by the publisher of your songs — and you don’t have to have anything to do with that.
This can be a great way to supplement your songwriting income.
Becoming a successful songwriter doesn’t happen overnight
While royalties are always nice and do great things for your bank account, they’re not the be-all-end-all of making money from your music skills. In order to become a successful songwriter, you will have to put in consistent effort and work at marketing your music.
If you have a strong back catalog of releases and are actively looking for new clients, then you will get more opportunities to sell songs to other artists and/or receive requests to contribute to projects. You will also have to be willing to accept less pay for every song that you write, as there’s a lot of competition in the industry.
There’s no quick path to success as a songwriter, but if you are willing to put in the work, then you can reap the rewards.
On top of being a great songwriter, you need to promote your music constantly
You’ve written your songs, you’ve signed a publishing agreement with a publisher, and you’ve made your music available for licensing — and now it’s time to put your money where your mouth is. Remember that you’re not being paid directly for every song sale (although you should be getting a cut of that as a songwriter).
Instead, you’re being paid as a songwriter for every song sold under your publisher’s name. You have to promote your music and your name constantly. There are a lot of ways to promote your music, from posting your songs on SoundCloud to using social media to finding effective ways to get your music heard.
And remember, you have to do all of this while keeping your music fresh and new.
Songwriters benefit from selling physical goods too
One of the best ways to make money as a songwriter is to become a specialist in selling merchandise related to your songs. For example, let’s say one of your songs is about beer. You could then explore the idea of selling t-shirts, hoodies, and other merchandise related to drinking beer.
There are a lot of sites that you can use to sell your merchandise, from eBay to Amazon. And by selling your merchandise, you’re monetizing your music — and making money — in a fun, creative way.
Beyond selling your merchandise, you can also look into licensing your music to other brands who want to use it in commercials and other ads.
This can be a great way to make some extra money on the side.
A chord chart never goes out of style
One of the best things about the music industry is that it never stands still. New technology and the way that people consume music means that there are new ways to make money as a songwriter. You can try your hand at creating and releasing virtual goods related to your music, such as apps or virtual chords.
Virtual goods are items that you sell for which people pay a one-time fee, like an eBook or a virtual chord on SheetMusicPlus. By creating and selling virtual goods related to your songs, you can create a new revenue stream for yourself that doesn’t require much effort on your part.
Connect with record labels and publishers
Most of the ways to make money as a songwriter will require that you reach out and connect with record labels and publishers that may be interested in licensing your music. This will require that you find these companies and make the effort to connect with them.
Most record labels and publishers will want to see music that has been professionally written, which may require that you write your songs first. If you’re looking to make money as a songwriter, this may be one of the best ways to get started.
One of the best ways to make connections with record labels and publishers is to attend music conferences and events.
This can be a great way to make new connections, as well as learn about new business models and technologies.
Making money from your music skills can be done from a variety of different angles, but the most effective way is to become a specialist in selling merchandise related to your songs. This can be done by selling virtual goods, chord charts, and physical merchandise.
Additionally, you can look into licensing your music for use in ads and other commercials.