Many musicians and singers embody the dream of making it as a recording artist. Writing music, singing, performing, building a home-studio… all of these things are dreams for many musicians out here in the ‘real world.' But is it possible? Can you really make money as a recording artist if you are not born into Hollywood royalty?
Let's take a closer look.
Is It Really Possible To Make Money As A Recording Artist?
There was once a day when making money as a recording artist was almost completely dependent on your talent. If you could get your record on the radio and get it played enough, you could go somewhere!
But the music world has changed a lot.
Thankfully, though, there are still a few ways to make money as a recording artist, even in our modern-day world.
In fact, in some ways, it has never been easier to get attention as a musician.
But how do you do it? And how much money can you make?
Let's talk about that.
The 3 Best Ways To Make Money As A Recording Artist
There are actually quite a few modern tools that recording artists can use to help fund their music business endeavors. And in this post, we are going to talk about some of them.
So let's dive right in with the first, and most obvious initial contender… YouTube.
Make Money With Your Music On YouTube
YouTube is an awesome platform for musicians.
Not only do you have the opportunity to make money on your channel itself, but YouTube also gives you the means to build an audience, put out content, plug sponsors, and showcase your talents.
There are a lot of ways to make money on YouTube, regardless of what your talents are. But as a general rule, if you can stay consistent, create all kinds of content, and really take it seriously… you can eventually build up a following and make pretty decent money.
Make Money With Digital Distribution And Streaming
One huge opportunity for new artists nowadays are streaming platforms like Spotify and Pandora. There are also distribution services that you can use to get your music easily distributed to these services.
And of course, you can also sell your music on platforms like iTunes, Amazon, etc.
Getting your music streamed online does earn you some profits… as does selling songs on services like iTunes.
And the best part of all of this is that digital distribution doesn't even cost very much. You can use services like DistroKid to get your music spread across all of these platforms super-cheap.
And if your music is good enough to start getting attention… you may just be able to make some money that way!
Build A Mailing List And Sell Merchandise
If you can build up your email list and start marketing to your followers, you can actually make quite a bit of money selling your own products. You could sell band merch, but you could also leverage your skills and knowledge about making music to help your followers and fans make music of their own.
You could create video tutorials, ebooks, and courses designed to help people do what you do. You could also coach new musicians, give lessons, or even provide one-on-one mentorship to help up-and-coming recording artists with all kinds of different challenges… ranging from using recording software, to making instruments sound good, to choosing the right equipment, to getting better vocal takes, to songwriting… the list goes on and on.
This might be the best and most consistent way to make money as a recording audience… except that you need to learn how to market yourself in the interim. That's really the big challenge.
How Much Can You Make As A Recording Artist?
You can literally make anywhere from a few dollars here and there, to millions of dollars a year as a recording artist. Look at artists like Jennifer Lopez and Taylor Swift as examples of people who have literally made their fortunes in the recording industry.
But of course, these stories are not always the same. Cardi B got noticed through Instagram, and Justin Beiber was found on YouTube! There are actually a lot of ways to get ‘discovered' and make it big… but it takes a LOT of work.
With all of that being said, let's go ahead and look at some of the actual numbers.
Billboard.com posted an awesome info-graphic on this topic on their website… and it gives us a pretty detailed look into what musicians and artists earn. Here are some examples…
- Buskers tend to earn $50-$100 per day
- Cover bands tend to earn an average of $1,000-$2,500 per gig
- Session musicians average $100-$2,500 per day
- Songwriters with at least one hit on the ‘Hot 100' list earn an average of $100,000 to $2 million per year
- YouTube Stars of ‘Midlevel' fame earn somewhere between $280,000 and $960,000 per year
- And of course, Superstars who have had a top-five album and arena/stadium tours earn anywhere from $14 million to $70 million per year
Of course, these are averages… which means that, with as much money as some of the superstars make, there are certainly plenty that are far below this who don't even earn enough to quit their day-jobs.
But… there is money to be made in this business.
It really all boils down to three factors.
- Are you knowledgeable and/or willing to learn?
- Are you adaptable and willing to evolve, grow, and get better?
- Are you passionate and determined to succeed?
If you can blend all three of these values together, there is a very good chance that you can have a fighting chance at turning your passion for music into a profitable side-hustle as a recording artist.
There is even the possibility that you can move this beyond just a side hustle to a full-fledged career, if you are willing to put in the work and do what needs to be done!
But as with most things… this hustle is not always easy.
But at the end of the day, this gig just has a super-low ROI in the beginning… and takes quite a bit of time to get to the point where you make any meaningful cash with it.
And this leads me to my personal feelings about treating it as a side-hustle.
My Personal Feelings About Making Money As A Recording Artist
I think that far too many people give up on their dreams. But I also think that a lot of people don't look at side-hustles like this the way they should… as side hustles.
If you are passionate about making music, then being a recording artist is the obvious gig for you. The only thing that you need to keep in mind is that it is not going to earn you a lot of money at first.
You need to create, create, create… and keep publishing newer and better music… to eventually get noticed enough to make any extra cash doing this.
And even then, you certainly won't ‘get rich' until you have really paid your dues.
Why don't more people make money with their music?
The answer to this question, I believe, is pretty simple.
They get started, realize how much work it is going to be to make it work, and give up before they start to see progress, make money, or get significantly better at the craft.
You can almost reduce it all down to one very basic common denominator.
People are not willing to put in all of the hard work, effort, and perseverance it takes to succeed in this type of industry.
Succeeding at making music and monetizing it is, admittedly, quite daunting.
But it is not impossible!
How Do You Know If This Side Hustle Is For You?
If you really want to make money as a recording artist, then there is only one way to get started.
You need to start creating.
Start recording songs, publishing them, and then continue that process over and over again. As you work, keep learning. Keep getting better at what you do.
Over time, this will add up to big differences… and your experience will pay off as you start to really hone your craft.
You will also learn more and more about the business.
If you love music enough to keep doing this, and can manage to enjoy yourself at the same time, even when you are not making any money… then you are probably the type of person who is going to keep going. And if you are that kind of person… then odds are good that you may eventually be able to turn your love for music into a legitimate business.
Our Final Opinion Of Becoming A Recording Artist
Should you try to record some music and make extra money with it?
There are a lot of ways to make money online. Some are good, some not, but ALL of them are still just trading hours for dollars.
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