Author Topic: How to make money in music?  (Read 1434 times)

Better Late

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How to make money in music?
« on: April 08, 2017, 07:34:38 PM »
I wonder if anyone on the forum has experience making money or earning their living in music.  Have you made $ with recorded music, e.g. being paid for cd's, downloads or streaming?  I've been reading a bit and getting some background on this, and would love advice or information.   What have you learned from your experience?  Would you sign with a label if you had the chance (or would you do it over again)? 

StarBright

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Re: How to make money in music?
« Reply #1 on: April 17, 2017, 07:15:21 PM »
I have a bit of experience in this - both in industry and as a gigging classical musician. Sadly I do not have any experience with digital music, but I do have friends that have made some money that way.

My industry experience is many moons ago and I'll basically say that the experience was so bad that I would NEVER work with a label again.

As a classical musician it is 100% possible to make a living (not luxurious - but a living) if you hustle. A combination of church jobs (choir, orchestra, holiday gigs), wedding/country club type gigs, and chosen vocation are usually enough to get by.  If you play piano you can make bank playing good cocktail hours and also working as an accompanist for music schools (who never seem to have enough pianists for students).

I have a lot of friends that have put their stuff on Pandora, Spotify, etc and only one of them has earned any money of it. His breakthrough piece was specifically "inspired" by a piece from a famous musician and the musician tweeted about it - thus earning my friend an instant following.

A composer friend of mine specifically writes for a production music library and he makes great side money (his full time job is a prof of music theory).  His stuff has ended up on a couple of sitcoms and several reality shows. If you are a pop-ish writer this is where I would aim for extra money as it seems the most do-able way to earn real money. Also look into sync music licensing (youtube, vimeo, etc).

I don't know if any of this is helpful - but I thought it was a really interesting question and felt compelled to respond :)


Car Jack

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Re: How to make money in music?
« Reply #2 on: April 21, 2017, 06:55:37 PM »
I'm an unpaid guitarist but know several guys who make their living on music or related businesses.

One owns a music lesson business and sells instruments there.  He holds jam lunchtimes and jam nights a couple times a week, of course teaches but also does some studio work and has a gigging band.  He started giving lessons at another store before breaking out on his own.  He's a Berklee grad and plays a bunch of instruments.

The other runs his family 2nd generation music store, has a big web presence selling a small guitar company's products, performs in 2 bands and does produce his band albums.  One night, he performed in one of his bands which was the opening act for.....his other band.

Neither of these guys are going to get rich, but it's a living.

OurTown

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Re: How to make money in music?
« Reply #3 on: May 02, 2017, 07:20:34 AM »
Get a regular job and do music as a sideline.  That's what I did.

tadcaster2014

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Re: How to make money in music?
« Reply #4 on: May 05, 2017, 08:20:44 AM »
its not easy. the managers take a lot of the cut as well as expenses the artist is left with not much

Spiritual_Lobotomy

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Re: How to make money in music?
« Reply #5 on: May 05, 2017, 08:02:38 PM »
Yeah I have to agree Musicians are given the shaft more than ever now.  Thank you internet.

swick

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Re: How to make money in music?
« Reply #6 on: May 06, 2017, 09:03:15 AM »
I have a couple of friends who make a full time, good living by touring and doing mainly house concerts. Low overhead, usually gets free meals and lodging. Have to love the lifestyle though.

sol

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Re: How to make money in music?
« Reply #7 on: May 06, 2017, 09:11:39 AM »
Low overhead, usually gets free meals and lodging. Have to love the lifestyle though.

Part of that lifestyle is women throwing themselves at you.  I knew a goofy-looking musician in grad school who played all the local college bars, and I figure he slept with something close to a thousand women during the few years I knew him.  Sometimes more than one per night, at least four nights per week.

So yes, the pay isn't great, but for the right kind of person the job has other benefits.

swick

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Re: How to make money in music?
« Reply #8 on: May 06, 2017, 09:35:45 AM »
Low overhead, usually gets free meals and lodging. Have to love the lifestyle though.

Part of that lifestyle is women throwing themselves at you.  I knew a goofy-looking musician in grad school who played all the local college bars, and I figure he slept with something close to a thousand women during the few years I knew him.  Sometimes more than one per night, at least four nights per week.

So yes, the pay isn't great, but for the right kind of person the job has other benefits.

The house concert method is way different than the college bar circuit. One guy I know is happily married, several others are female artists, some tour as a couple.  It's a totally different scene :)

Better Late

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Re: How to make money in music?
« Reply #9 on: May 06, 2017, 11:38:12 AM »


A composer friend of mine specifically writes for a production music library and he makes great side money (his full time job is a prof of music theory).  His stuff has ended up on a couple of sitcoms and several reality shows. If you are a pop-ish writer this is where I would aim for extra money as it seems the most do-able way to earn real money. Also look into sync music licensing (youtube, vimeo, etc).

I don't know if any of this is helpful - but I thought it was a really interesting question and felt compelled to respond :)

That is very helpful. I had never heard either term before, will research them.

Better Late

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Re: How to make money in music?
« Reply #10 on: May 06, 2017, 11:40:09 AM »
I'm an unpaid guitarist but know several guys who make their living on music or related businesses.

One owns a music lesson business and sells instruments there.  He holds jam lunchtimes and jam nights a couple times a week, of course teaches but also does some studio work and has a gigging band.  He started giving lessons at another store before breaking out on his own.  He's a Berklee grad and plays a bunch of instruments.

The other runs his family 2nd generation music store, has a big web presence selling a small guitar company's products, performs in 2 bands and does produce his band albums.  One night, he performed in one of his bands which was the opening act for.....his other band.

Neither of these guys are going to get rich, but it's a living.

I get the sense that it's pretty unusual to be able to play music/sell you music as a full-time gig. 

Better Late

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Re: How to make money in music?
« Reply #11 on: May 06, 2017, 11:40:50 AM »
I have a couple of friends who make a full time, good living by touring and doing mainly house concerts. Low overhead, usually gets free meals and lodging. Have to love the lifestyle though.

House concerts? I didn't realize that was a thing!

swick

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Re: How to make money in music?
« Reply #12 on: May 06, 2017, 12:28:10 PM »
I have a couple of friends who make a full time, good living by touring and doing mainly house concerts. Low overhead, usually gets free meals and lodging. Have to love the lifestyle though.

House concerts? I didn't realize that was a thing!

Not common yet, but growing in popularity. Gives you a chance to get up close and personal with your fans and build a tribe organically and easily with little to no overhead. Don't have to pay the venue, they often feed and house you. Takes a bit of work to create your set-up and manage your tour if you are doing it yourself, but it is a fun experience for everyone. You can do it as a full-time gig or create your own opportunities close where you are or where you want to travel to.

It would be an ideal FIRE situation for a musically inclined couple, or one musician and the other partner does the business side of things. If I don't have time to work with clients to help them set up their tours, I suggest this book to get them started, it's really all you need:http://amzn.to/2pSqypA

Pigeon

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Re: How to make money in music?
« Reply #13 on: May 06, 2017, 03:07:45 PM »
I know two who scrape together a living with classical music.  One is in a local orchestra, does private lessons, does weddings.  The other is an adjunct at a local community college, does private lessons, is part of a quartet that does a variety of local gigs.  They both have a pretty bare bones lifestyle.

Glenstache

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Re: How to make money in music?
« Reply #14 on: May 08, 2017, 07:13:54 PM »
This article was posted in a parallel discussion elsewhere by a friend who is in a band and plays gigs regularly and is generally pretty plugged in to the Portland music scene. It is a medium-length piece, but worth reading if you are interested in making money from your music.
http://www.indelicates.com/worthless/

lost_in_the_endless_aisle

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Re: How to make money in music?
« Reply #15 on: May 09, 2017, 12:51:05 AM »
This article was posted in a parallel discussion elsewhere by a friend who is in a band and plays gigs regularly and is generally pretty plugged in to the Portland music scene. It is a medium-length piece, but worth reading if you are interested in making money from your music.
http://www.indelicates.com/worthless/
That is an excellent essay, anyone interested in music should read it! Just wish there was a truncated version as well for music fans (and/or bands who understand econ 101 concepts).

What I've read in general is that median income for musicians has kept up with inflation, as touring income has increased enough to offset falls in album sales-generated revenue. I'm always happy to buy albums via "pay what you want" because I can release some consumer surplus for bands I really like but this offering is still very rare. No one I really like is on Patreon either, last I checked, and there are a few I would be willing to give ridiculous amounts to if only I could...From what I've read, music groups on Patreon have done worse than other funding causes posted on that site.

Seems to be a bit of market failure from my perspective! I do what I (easily) can though.
« Last Edit: May 09, 2017, 12:54:22 AM by lost_in_the_endless_aisle »

valsecito

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Re: How to make money in music?
« Reply #16 on: May 09, 2017, 10:37:38 AM »
I teach a musical instrument for a living as a tenured public music academy teacher. Rather good pay by western European standards, so low numbers by US standards. Still, quite good quality of living taking into account socialised healthcare, education and other bits of social safety net.

I love to play in the streets occasionally. Wonderful feeling getting very monetary feedback. If you're a musician, try it!
* play until you have enough to eat for the rest of the day
* play until you have enough to pay the mortgage for that day
* ...

Actually thinking of making a street musician/home concert trip with my gf who is also a great musician. That should be fun!

madgeylou

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Re: How to make money in music?
« Reply #17 on: May 09, 2017, 07:17:26 PM »
My BFF's husband makes a solid middle class income playing music, but he's found he can only really make money playing in cover bands or solo gigging at bars, providing background music playing well-known songs. He's super charming and handsome and he makes decent money, but he has to hustle for it. And his band that plays originals is mostly just for fun ...

Better Late

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Re: How to make money in music?
« Reply #18 on: May 09, 2017, 08:16:13 PM »

As we have been discussing this topic at home, DH just sent me this.  I'd love your thoughts on it.

http://www.digitalmusicnews.com/2014/11/25/band-just-finished-28-day-tour-made-much/


Better Late

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Re: How to make money in music?
« Reply #19 on: May 09, 2017, 11:40:35 PM »
This article was posted in a parallel discussion elsewhere by a friend who is in a band and plays gigs regularly and is generally pretty plugged in to the Portland music scene. It is a medium-length piece, but worth reading if you are interested in making money from your music.
http://www.indelicates.com/worthless/

That was excellent. Thank you.