Independent musicians have a demanding career, and it can be extremely costly to keep up with what is necessary to play live gigs with all of the equipment involved. The costs to rent rehearsal space, create recordings, marketing aspects that include photo shoots, advertising, and web design make it easy to know why a musician is always broke!
In the wake of the global pandemic of COVID-19, musical activity was significantly impacted. Musicians found that they could no longer bring in the bread and butter of their careers – performing live music. As a result, gigs and concerts were cancelled worldwide.
Soon, independent musicians became creative with their craft, detecting and implementing innovative ways in the online realm to continue their careers in the music industry while still earning money. If you are an independent artist, there are some great side hustles where you can make money as a musician from the comforts of home.
LIVE STREAM YOUR PERFORMANCES
Some multiple apps and websites allow musicians to create a live stream of a gig or concert. Being able to still perform in an online setting allowed independent artists to continue doing what they do best – play live gigs. The only difference with the live stream is that there is no audience right in front of you to feed off of, so you have to keep the energy up for your sets on your own.
You can earn money for your “live” performances by selling tickets in advance on a specialized platform. Some musicians might just reach out for donations from their fans. You can do shortened music sessions in a virtual, live setting, where you can see who is joining to watch and reach out to each person as you see them join in, and ask them to put in your virtual tip jar, utilizing payment apps like PayPal, Venmo, or CashApp.
CREATE A YOUTUBE CHANNEL
If you would rather lay down more polished, recorded tracks of your music, you can start your own YouTube channel (if you haven’t already). YouTube is great for entrepreneurs because it allows them a platform to establish and expand their brands. As a musician, you can use YouTube to keep your fans updated on new releases, as well as provide entertainment.
YouTube monetization begins when you hit at least 1,000 subscribers to your channel. After that, you get paid per every thousand views, and there are options when you get a certain amount of subscribers to get paid through the YouTube Partner Program, where sponsors will have you advertise on your page.
It takes some time to build up a following on YouTube, so don’t get discouraged if it doesn’t happen right away. If you already have a good fanbase, though, YouTube may be an excellent option to help you earn some more money.
TEACH ONLINE MUSIC LESSONS OR COURSES
For musicians with expertise in playing the piano, teaching piano lessons online is another avenue to continue your musicianship. Teaching and guiding others can be enriching, and video conference platforms like Zoom and Skype allow you to market yourself to anyone, anywhere.
Offering one-on-one lessons is an option for many if you have equipment at home that allows you to work with students, but you can also create masterclasses, courses, or workshops, more like courses. Either way can help provide you with a substantial side income.
Deciding to create your own course online has you doing most (if not all) of the work upfront. First, you have to record videos, make slideshows, and demonstrate techniques, walking your students through learning an instrument (or whatever your expertise is – voice, sound engineering, etc.). Then, once you have created the class or workshop, you can promote it to your fans by marketing across social media platforms to generate revenue with a flat fee or a subscription (if you plan to expand on your course).
LICENSE OR SUBMIT YOUR MUSIC
Musicians have also found that they can generate income through their own music by licensing it to other creatives. Multiple licensing companies have networks of musical producers, supervisors, filmmakers, and more, who are always looking for new, unreleased music that will fit their project.
Submitting your music to music blogs, record labels, or other places online looking for music is another option to generate some more income. There are plenty of musical websites that like to create feature articles on new artists and their tracks. Some musicians have even taken to looking for “music wanted” ads to see if they are a good fit to create new music for someone willing to pay.
CREATING A MUSIC PODCAST
This last option to create a music podcast is simply for those who are more business-involved in their music and musical knowledge. Podcasts are a way to build your brand or a way that you can help other struggling musicians who might need some assistance in their careers.
There are a couple of different formats for podcasting – it can simply be you providing your storytelling and advice, or you can opt to interview as well. If you are lucky enough, depending on the orientation of your podcast, you can interview other bands and musicians to gain more insight and provide guidance to your listeners. The objective of a podcast is to bring value to your audience and build your following, which will result in more money for each episode.
FIND YOUR OWN MUSICAL PATH
There are so many innovative and creative ways to continue to be an independent musician and earn money with your music. Depending on your area of expertise within the music industry, you can utilize it to obtain multiple income streams for yourself while still being concerned as a musician, first and foremost.
Whether you decide to write jingles for advertisements, create a course on how to write songs, or teach others how to play the piano, the opportunities are endless. Just because live performances were your primary revenue doesn’t mean that you pivot your entire career. Music and music education are essential for our development and common ground that brings us all together.