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Money making options for musicians


Stars are not born, they are made. That’s what would be the most honest description of today’s music business. Of course, when I say today’s, it doesn’t mean that it was much different 10 years ago, but while Youtube and other streaming services give musicians a great way to get free publicity without any help from music managements, the most famous stars in the world are still being produced by the huge management companies.

But if you’re an individual artists or a band without a direct line to people who “create” artists, but making music is what you like to do, how can you make money these days?

Even years ago musicians selling their cd’s for $20 would only pocket a few bucks themselves from the sales. So if you wanted to make actual money with cd sales you still had to be very popular.

You could try your luck at to support your music passion, or you could try earning money with the following options:

Pub gigs

Playing in pubs has always been a thing. And if you’re not really hurting the ear of the average pub crawler, you shouldn’t have many problems finding new gigs every week. The problematic bit, of course, is often the pay. It’s not uncommon for a pub to pay you just $50 and a beer, or even offer to pay you only in beer.

Earn as a street musician

You could also try your hand playing on streets and trying to earn money like that. Depending on where you play, you might earn pretty substantial sums or nothing at all. In some places you also need to get a permit to do that. And in some places it’s actually difficult to earn as a street musicians because while in general it’s a legit form of making money and entertaining people at the same time, in some places you might be considered a beggar independent of how well you play.

Earn money in the internet

Compared to 20 years ago musicians have the ability to gain free publicity in the internet through channels such as Youtube. But when it comes to making money, it’s not that simple unless your Youtube channel gets millions of views every month. That’s because of the numbers the video/music streaming sites pay out. How much such services actually pay the artists is only an estimation, independent of what the streaming services claim to be paying you. Apple music is allegedly paying $6.40 for every 1000 streams, Spotify pays $3.80 for the same, and Youtube anywhere from $.60 – $3 per 1000 streams.

Based on those numbers you need to get 1 million views a month in order to earn anywhere from $600 to $6400. Which, if somehow you manage to get that many views, might be okayish, depending on the amount of time and money you spend on getting there. Then again, some users have made claims that they have only earned about $60 bucks from their million views in Youtube. Which, if it is true, is total nonsense.

These days the highest paying streaming services are most likely Napster (former Rapsody), and Tidal. Napster has the highest per-play royalty rate of $0.019 per play. Which means that for 1 million plays you could earn around $19 000. Tidal pays $0.0125 per stream, so you could earn $12,500 for 1 million streams.

By the end of the day, everything comes down to numbers. How much does the pub pay, how many people support you on the street, or how many people you are able to get to listen to your music online.

Photograph by Photo Mix Company

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