When starting out in the music business, there will be a waiting period before a songwriter earns his or her first dollar. In fact, having spent money on recording a song and hiring a music producer, you will be operating at a deficit from the get-go.
There might be other reasons to spend time and money on that song, such as trying to get it placed on a high-rotation playlist, or getting it in front of an interested artist. If successful in landing a publishing contract, you may then need to wait up to a year or more before you see your first royalty check (yes, there are cases where you may get an advance upfront but that is rare). To top it off, the amount you receive could turn out to be far less than expected.
Waiting to earn substantial returns from your music can, therefore, seem like forever. Luckily, there are things you can do to earn money in the interim.
Have singing talent? You can seek out gigs that allow you to sing live for audiences at clubs, bars, restaurants, etc. There are also parties, local festivals, trade shows, and other community events that might be happening in the near future and which may be in need of musical performers. Be on the lookout for such opportunities and make it known that you are available for live gigs using your social media pages or website if you have one.
Become a music tutor
Having good vocal ability or knowledge of how to play a musical instrument can lead to money in your pocket if you decide to teach what you know to others. You can advertise yourself as a private voice or [insert instrument] tutor, or join a website that allows you to connect with people who want music training.
Do session work
Another great way to utilize your music talent is to start working as a session musician or session singer. In either of these cases, songwriters and other musicians can hire you to record an instrument track or sing the lyrics for their songs, or play on a band. This is usually work-for-hire, meaning you will be paid once for your contribution and will not benefit from any future sales or royalties the song might generate. However, if you prove yourself to be reliable and good at what you do, you could be in high demand, which means cash will constantly be rolling in. Session work is popular for both upcoming musicians who want to earn while waiting for their own music to start bearing fruit, as well as seasoned musicians who want to earn extra cash on the side.
Start a YouTube channel
Setting up a YouTube channel can earn you money in a number of ways. First of all, you can create videos for your own songs and upload them to your channel. You can also do tutorial videos (in addition to or instead of being a tutor) and post them on the video streaming platform. Either way, with enough views and subscribers, it is possible to monetize your videos, allowing YouTube to place ads on them, which can see you earning a tidy sum on the regular. As per YouTube’s latest policy, creators are required to have 4,000 watch hours and 1,000 subscribers before you can join their program that allows you to earn ad revenue.
You may also consider offering branded merchandise such as t-shirts to earn money. This is an especially good idea if you have managed to develop a sizable online fan base – with thousands of followers on social media, for instance – or even a few dozen people in your community who are always raving about your public performances. Work with a good graphic designer to come up with cool branding marks and designs that will make your merch appealing. You can sell your wares at live events if you do perform publicly or you can sell exclusively online. You can even use drop-shipping platforms that deal with creating and shipping the merchandise for you, leaving you with nothing to do but come up with design concepts and collecting the cash when a sale occurs. With the right marketing, this could turn out to be quite a profitable venture.
Write books or tutorials
Have writing skills and the musical knowledge to go along with it? You may consider penning a book or tutorial and selling it to people who may be interested. There are tons of “how to” music-related books and tutorials on Amazon, so this is a pretty competitive field. But if your writing is good and you are able to market your work properly, you could earn a sizable income. What’s more, a book could continue to earn you money way into the future. If you don’t have good writing skills, it is still possible to create a book or tutorial for publication. There are many websites that can connect you to competent ghostwriters, some of whom won’t charge an arm and a leg to write something decent for you.
Look for brand partnerships
This is another route to explore if you have a large online following, particularly on viral sites such as Twitter, Instagram, or YouTube. With thousands of followers, you can approach corporate brands, whether music-related or otherwise, to showcase their products or talk about their services on your page(s). In return, you can earn a small fee anytime someone makes a purchase using a link or code that is unique to you.
Have ambitions to create a mixtape or EP, or even drop an album but don’t have the cash to get started? You can utilize a crowdfunding site to get cash for your project, which could spill over to cash in hand. Uploading one of your songs or a snippet of your work to show just how good you are can generate interest in your music and influence people to contribute towards the cause. Usually, it is also a good idea to offer a perk, such as the ability for contributors to receive a custom copy of the finished product or some other gift once your project is complete. Among the popular crowdfunding platforms being utilized by creators nowadays includes Patreon, which allows users to pledge a certain amount of money to your work based on set milestones.
Write Custom Lyrics
Are lyrics your strong suit? If so, you can offer your lyrics writing skills to Bring My Song To Life. Bring My Song To Life create custom made music as a gift, which is perfect as a romantic anniversary gift idea, or as personalized wedding ceremony music. They pay lyricists for coming up with the lyrics to their client’s personal stories.
While it can be frustrating to be faced with the uncertainty of getting sizable royalty checks at some future date, there are plenty of opportunities to fund your career. Who knows, your side gig could also turn into a rewarding business empire over the long term.