You are currently viewing How to make money with your music resources

How to make money with your music resources

With the live performance sector still struggling to get back on its feet, musicians should look to monetize the equipment they own that is currently underutilized, and find “side gigs” to fill the extra time available. in their schedule. This article will focus on how South African musicians can use both the tangible assets (equipment and recording space) and intangible assets (experience, skills and expertise) they have to generate additional sources of income. .

Equipment rental

If you’re a gigging musician, chances are that over the years you’ve amassed some must-have gear that you regularly use for the live sound and/or studio environment. If the option of selling this equipment is unthinkable, why not consider creating an additional source of income by renting it out?

Writing for Sound on Sound, Matt Houghton says, “Instead of leaving your gear sitting idle when you don’t need it, you might consider loaning it out, for a fee, to others who can’t afford it. to buy it or who can’t justify the purchase for just a day or two of work. The demand for the kind of gear we all use is quite high, whether it’s multi-channel preamps, ADAT expanders, esoteric outboards, beautiful guitars, amps and pedals. effects, hi-res location recorders or even complete laptop recording devices.[2]

Similarly, in terms of live sound equipment, if you currently have sound equipment such as soundboards, speakers, subwoofers, and guitar or bass amps that are not in use every weekends, why not consider renting them out to earn a little extra. Income? They could be rented out to other musicians who have managed to get a gig, or even to film and television production houses, which often need musical equipment for set dressing.

According to the Revenue Streams for Music Creators in South Africa 2022 report, equipment rental is the largest contributor to revenue from services, with an average monthly income of R25,196.

Unfortunately, since December 2021, global peer-to-peer equipment rental markets such as Fretish have been suspended while the industry recovers from the adverse effects of the global pandemic.[3] However, it’s usually not only a good place to list your rentals, but also a great resource for getting an idea of ​​indicative rental prices.

There are many different theories on how to calculate your rental rate. The most effective way is to do market research and find out how much other companies charge for similar equipment rentals. Another technique is to take the value of the item and multiply it by your desired profit margin (150% is a good starting point), then divide that number by the number of times you could theoretically rent the equipment per month (for equipment music, 12 weekend slots is a reasonable figure).[4] Using this formula we can see that a PA system valued at R20,000 would need to be priced at R30,000 to make 150% profit, then divided by 12 to arrive at a figure of R2,500 per gig.

Be sure to protect yourself and your equipment. Not only must your equipment be insured against theft and accidental breakage[5], but you must ensure that you have a signed rental agreement each time you lend your equipment. Be sure to enter the tenant’s contact details and make a copy of their ID in case of dispute. An equal rental agreement template can be downloaded here and then customized to your needs.

sound engineering

In the COVID-19 landscape, where smaller and more remote gigs are expected to thrive, there should be more opportunities to provide services as an ad-hoc sound engineer for house parties and small gatherings, performances televised/streamed and in places that don’t. usually organize musical events.

  • In addition to using platforms like Sound Better and Upwork, get creative and look for venues that hold events like poetry nights, exhibition openings, and book launches. Think of all the possible places that could use a basic PA system and offer your services directly to them.
  • The rates for this type of service vary depending on the budget of the event and according to year-end statistics for 2020, the South African Freelancers Association (SAFREA) does not have a live audio engineering category in its survey data. However, a basic sound editing fee of R450-R550/per hour can be applied as a guideline for negotiations.[6]
  • If you include your own equipment in the engineering contract, make sure you are properly compensated for it and don’t forget to include a rental contract (see above) to cover you in case your equipment is damaged in the event.

Ways to sell your expertise

Being a musician is of course more than owning equipment and knowing how to operate it. There are also many industry skills and knowledge that are acquired along the way that can be used to help supplement your income.

Here are some opportunities for musicians to market their expertise:

Write about music, gear, or other aspects of the industry in a journalistic capacity. According to Craig Anderton, “If you want to try music journalism, editors are always happy with someone who meets deadlines, makes clean copy that requires little editing, writes in magazine style, thoroughly researches all the facts for accuracy, and of course, delivers a compelling story that will appeal to the magazine’s readership.[7] SAFREA’s pricing indicates an average freelance rate of R3-R4 per word, or R400-R500 per hour, although these may vary depending on publication format and budget, with online platforms tending to to pay up to half.[8] Income streams for music creators in South Africa 2022 indicate an average monthly income of R5,252 for writing about music topics

  • Consulting positions don’t come up very often, but keep an eye out for announcements from schools, theater groups, and production companies that require musical supervision on a particular project. The SAFREA website is a good resource for these opportunities, as is Visual Arts Network of South Africa (VANSA). The Music In Africa report shows an average monthly income of R7,928 for consulting services.
  • Arbitration positions are another option for musicians to seek, including umpiring in music competitions. Higher education institutions such as AFDA and COPASA sometimes require external referees for their graduation performance programs, and similar opportunities can be found in schools across South Africa, particularly during exam periods. If you can find work as a judge in music competitions, you can expect to earn a monthly average of R6,164 for your services – although these jobs are often much more temporary in nature.[9]

Video: Institutions such as the AFDA require musicians to serve as external judges for graduation performances.

Resources and citations

  • [1] South African Cultural Observatory. (2020). Impact analysis: live music and its venues and the South African economy during COVID 19. Nelson Mandela University. Accessed November 30, 2021:
  • [2] Sound on sound. (2007). 20 ways to make money from your audio gear and skills. Accessed November 30, 2021:
  • [3] Fetish. (2021). Hit Pause. Accessed November 30, 2021:
  • [4] O’Neil, R. (2020). How much should I charge for my rentals? Accessed November 30, 2021:
  • [5]…
  • [6] Mathurine, J. & Mapaling, C. (2020). SA Freelance Media Industry and Rates Report 2019-2020. SAFREA. Accessed November 30, 2021:
  • [7] Sound on sound. (2007). Same.
  • [8] Mathurine, J. & Mapaling, C. (2020). Same.
  • [9] Music in Africa. 2022. Revenue streams for music creators in South Africa.

This article is part of the Revenue Streams for African Musicians project, supported by UNESCO’s International Fund for Cultural Diversity under the 2005 UNESCO Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions, the Siemens Cents4Sense program, Siemens Stiftung, Goethe-Institut, the National Arts Council of South Africa and Kaya FM.

Editing by Kalin Pashaliev

Leave a Reply