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9 different ways to make a living from your music

It’s safe to say that 2020 and 2021 have forced many musicians and creators to turn inward and find other ways to make money from music. Here are 9 different ways to make money from your music.

A guest post by Janelle Borg from AmplifyYou.

Despite the challenges, forward-looking musicians and creators have managed to find sources of passive income that don’t require them to tour 360 days out of 365 a year. Therefore, there are different ways to make money from music in 2022 without necessarily playing live shows.

In this guide, we’ll give you an overview of the different sources of income you can explore. It’s especially useful if you want to quit your job or day job and become a full-time musician or music maker.

Royalty fee

If you are unfamiliar with the different types of royalties, we invite you to read our anti-jargon guide, which details everything related to royalties.

Basically, songwriters and publishers earn money from the composition, while labels, distributors and artists collect royalties from the recording itself.

If you are a songwriter and want to make money from the underlying composition (publishing royalties), you need to register with a performing rights organization (PRO) or get a contract editing. This way you earn money every time your music is played on the radio, live stream or elsewhere.

Mechanical royalties are associated with the recording of the song itself. This can include physical reproductions, such as CDs and vinyl, as well as digital downloads.

The amount of money you get as a songwriter depends on the publishing deal. Some offers give songwriters up to 90% of the profits, while others give them 50%. If the writer is self-published, they can receive up to 100% of the profits. That doesn’t mean, however, that having an editor is a disadvantage (more on that later).

Every time you or someone else performs a song you wrote, you are supposed to earn public performance royalties. To get these royalties, make sure you and all your songs are registered with a PRO.

Print music royalties are less common than in the past. However, it still applies to sheet music and is based on the number of copies of that sheet music made. If your music is performed by an orchestra or quartet, you should receive royalties each time your score is distributed.


Syncs are a lucrative way to make money from music. When you license a third party to use your music, you typically get sync royalties each time that song is used.

For example, if your song is used in an episode of Netflix, Netflix will pay you an upfront licensing fee, and you will also get sync royalties when that song is actually used. Therefore, if you are both a songwriter and a performer, you will earn the primary use license fee, as well as the sync license fee.

An editor is usually beneficial, as they are responsible for finding synchronization opportunities. They usually work with music supervisors who organize music for commercials, shows, movies, etc. Therefore, having a publisher is crucial to generating passive income through such opportunities.

Performances – live and streaming

Live shows are back…and we couldn’t be happier! However, it is essential to ensure that you are paid for your efforts. Unless you’re playing a really good show, never accept exhibit-only or pay-per-view gigs.

Having a reputable booking agent usually helps you secure high-quality, paid gigs that not only boost your reputation, but also provide good, non-exploitative terms.

Live streaming can also be a great way to earn money without leaving your studio. Platforms like Twitch and Bandcamp Live allow you to make money from music without spending money on transportation, hosting, and all the costs associated with live performances.

Crowdfunding and subscriptions

It’s crucial to have a community of people who truly support what you do. Remember that subscribers don’t always equal fans. Platforms like Patreon, Only Fans, and Buy Me A Coffee let you make money from music through fan support.

The use of a subscription service has a persistent and cyclical aspect. This is because fans pay a monthly fee in exchange for exclusive content. This way, you can rest assured that you will receive X amount of dollars every month.

Streaming and digital downloads

Spotify, Apple Music, YouTube and all other streaming platforms get a lot of criticism. However, streaming platforms are undeniably a great tool for music discovery. These platforms do not have a fixed fee-for-service stream. On the contrary, the fee per stream depends on several factors.

It’s important to note that if we compare revenue to the pre-DSP era, 1 million streams on an album equates to roughly 1,000 album sales. That wouldn’t make an artist a star in the pre-DSP era.

On the contrary, reaching 1 million streams grants you access to different territories, playlists, etc. Additionally, independent artists can make more money from digital releases because they eliminate the costs associated with physical releases.

For example, Spotify distributes approximately 70% of its total revenue to rights holders. They then remunerate the artists according to the agreement in force. While independent artists get 100% of the DSP money, artists with record labels need a significant number of streams to see the DSP money.


Merchandise is a great way to increase brand awareness, convert casual listeners into fans, and make money from music. Over five million vinyl records were sold in the UK alone in 2021.

In addition to selling merchandise at trade shows, you can also sell merchandise online at minimal cost through platforms like Bandcamp. Start with the basics – like t-shirts – and expand your range as you get more merchandise sales and fans.

There are many sponsorship opportunities for artists of all skill levels. You don’t need millions of followers to get sponsorships and partnerships. The key is that you have an engaged audience and a good idea of ​​what your brand is about.

According to Forbes, more and more brands are now looking to partner with micro-influencers rather than macro-influencers.

This is because micro-influencers tend to be more authentic and have a stronger relationship with their followers. So it’s a great opportunity for musicians and music creators who want to make money from music as well as an alternative source of income.

Label feed

The music industry has changed in such a way that signing to a label is not the be-all and end-all of your career. A major benefit, however, is that artists signed to bigger labels get a head start. This is a sum of money that the label gives to the artist when signing a contract. The problem? The advance must be repaid before the artist receives additional profits.


Music grants are a great way to get that much-needed cash injection to fund an album or big project. Depending on where you live, government and private institutions usually have an annual allocation of money to support local artists. Check the website of your country’s Ministry of Culture or NGOs that support artists to find out more about grants you may be eligible for.

Final remarks

It is important to note that making money from music is different for everyone. Opting for multiple streams of income is preferable to a single stream of income.

Amplify is here to support you every step of the way. We serve as a bridge between Web2 and Web3, allowing musicians and creators like you to make the most of what Web2 and Web3 have to offer in terms of revenue streams.

Janelle Borg knows a thing or two about the music industry. Involved in the industry since the age of 13, she is now involved in a variety of music-related projects and is always eager to share industry tips and tricks with other musicians.

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