How to Get Paid in the Music Business

printed musical note page
Photo by Pixabay on

There are several ways to make money in the music business. The biggest is streaming, which is currently the top source of income for musicians. Other ways to make money include live performances, selling merchandise, and obtaining licensing fees. Below, we’ll take a look at these different methods. And remember that you can always do more than one thing at a time to maximize your earnings. But first, let’s review what all of these different methods entail.

Streaming is the largest source of income for musicians

Until recent years, record sales and downloading were the primary sources of revenue for musicians. Today, streaming services are the largest revenue stream for musicians, and this number has been growing steadily for the past six years. For musicians, streaming income is particularly important, especially for unsigned acts. Many artists are finding additional income from other, lesser-known sources, such as concert ticket sales. For example, tour tickets are typically sold on a tier system, with higher tiers offering better seating, VIP add-ons such as meet-and-greets with the band, soundcheck attendance, and even a signing.

While the percentage of streaming revenue that artists receive varies from artist to artist, it generally ranges between 50 and 85 percent. Streaming platforms don’t publicly disclose their contracts, but experts estimate that the labels earn between 50 and 80 percent of the revenue – if the artist makes the first sale of their music. Indie labels typically split the revenue 50/50 with their artists, while major labels take a greater percentage.

Streaming revenue has increased over the last few years, but still isn’t enough to sustain a musician’s career. For example, the Union of Musicians and Allied Workers (UMAW) represents musicians and has members in Speedy Ortiz and Downtown Boys. Meanwhile, the Keep Music Alive alliance, an umbrella group of musicians and songwriters in the United Kingdom, has been working to remedy the lack of fair payments from streaming services.

The music industry is in a transitional period. Streaming is the most dominant form of music consumption, accounting for 75% of the total industry revenue. But there are challenges in the industry. COVID-19 has brought new challenges, but new licensing opportunities are on the horizon. Meanwhile, capital continues to pour into the music industry, as acquisition activity is at a record high. As of 2019, the total revenue of the global music recording industry has grown from $14 billion in 2014 to $20 billion in 2019.

Live performances

The second most important income stream for musicians is merch, often clothing. But nowadays, you can find bands that feature the full range of merch items, including coasters, bottle openers, tote bags, mugs, posters, and more. Most merch is designed by a graphic designer and manufactured by a supplier. When you play a live show, you can sell your merch products at a set price, so it’s worth investing in merch as soon as possible.

While performing live may not be the most convenient way to earn money, it’s a great way to build a following and an audience. Gig fans are more valuable than followers on social media and are happy to pay to see you perform in person. But without a tour bus, you’ll need to find venues in your area and develop your audience through gig booking apps and websites. Here are some ideas for how to find gigs in your area and earn a decent living playing music live.

Selling merchandise

It has been long believed that artists should sell merchandise to make money. In the past, this revenue stream wasn’t as significant as it is now, but with the rise of streaming giants like Spotify and Pandora, selling branded items became an important source of income. Today, selling music and other branded products is a valuable way to reach fans, while simultaneously raising brand awareness. Listed below are some ways to profit from selling merchandise.

– Use an online store. Many emerging companies will help you maintain your online store. They will allow you to sell physical items as well as digital items such as sheet music, video lessons, and more. You can also use print-on-demand services like Printful to produce these items. Moreover, crowdfunding is a great way to fund your album’s cost and generate revenue for the band, although it should be used sparingly.

– Sell merch that is unique. Most merch is sold to fans, and artists can even sell unique items that appeal to their fans. Some ideas include signed polaroids, lighters, bandanas, and mints. Moreover, merch sales can be made at gigs. However, artists should be aware of possible risks involved. A proper strategy should be implemented in order to prevent any losses and maximize the profits.

– Sell music-related merchandise. Merchandise can make you money as an artist. The amount of money you can earn will depend on your popularity, where you sell the merchandise, and how you market it. Make sure to check out the licensing and financial implications before jumping into this endeavor. If you are serious about selling music-related products, there is no better time to start than now. The sooner you get started, the sooner you can start earning money from it.

Licensing fees

When you license music for commercial purposes, you are supporting the artists. The use of technology has largely reduced the ability of artists to make a fair living. However, you should also be aware of the legal implications of avoiding licensing fees. Federal penalties are often levied against people who don’t pay licensing fees. It is important for musicians to know what they should expect from licensing fees. Here are some ways to avoid paying these fees and still benefit from music licensing.

To avoid legal hassles, it is a good idea to use a music licensing company. These companies will negotiate with multiple companies and get your music in front of creatives. The key is to review the contract carefully. Then, consult an attorney to avoid getting into an exclusive deal. The music should be licensed with proper metadata. The digital music file should have a copy of the permissions information. If it is not available on the website, the publisher will likely reject your request.

In addition to licensing fees, musicians can also pay BMI and ASCAP for rights to their songs. For example, BMI owns nearly thirteen million songs and ASCAP owns more than eleven million. By allowing musicians to play at their establishments, restaurateurs and bar owners help them earn money. And, they also help support artists by providing them with a space to perform. The music licensing fee may be as high as $2000 a year for the same rights.

There are three main groups that represent millions of musicians and songwriters in the United States. These organizations work together to determine the royalty fees and other fees owed to artists. The licensing fees are paid on a yearly basis and may vary based on the number of nights of music that the musician performs or the use of visuals. There are also several industry-specific associations and guidelines for licensing fees.


While advances in the music business are beneficial, they should not be considered free money. Instead, they should be viewed more as a form of credit. Take what you need and wait for sales. By taking advantage of advances, you can avoid becoming indebted to your label and have more control over your career. Listed below are some tips on how to make the most of advances in the music business. Read on to learn more.

A number of multinational companies have made major investments in the music industry. Def Jam and Universal Music Group recently launched in Africa and South-East Asia. Sony Music and Warner Music Group have increased their investments in new offices in Israel and Morocco. Epic Records has recently launched in France. With these investments, these multinational companies understand the golden rule of modern business: expansion is the key to growth. By 2020, the music industry will be worth $11.7 billion.

A key part of the music business is its distribution and sales. The emergence of online streaming services like Spotify and iTunes is redefining the music industry. The sales of digital music are outpacing record sales. Despite the increasing popularity of digital music, traditional music labels are still battling it out for market share. To survive in this industry, it is important to stay abreast of the latest trends and technological developments. For example, music merchandise has become a massive industry.

Another important distinction between an advance and a loan is that they do not earn interest. A record label may offer an advance as part of a recording contract. The money that is paid upfront is essentially a pre-payment of royalties. As a result, the artist can use the advance money as early income before they start to receive royalties. While many musicians do not get an advance from their record label, they do need to seek out representation.

Was it worth reading? Let us know.