How To Make Money As A Musician In 2019

In today’s music industry, you don’t have any excuses to not be making money as a musician. And neither do I.

Whether you prefer to play live shows or stay in the studio, there are ways moola can come streaming in.

So here’s how to make money as a musician in 2019 (16 ways!).

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Dear Musician, Watch A Video Of Yourself Performing

I promise I don’t sit around watching videos of myself performing. 

But sometimes the videos just end up in front of my face. And I don’t regret it.

My wife and I recently held a fundraising event for our adoption fund — we had an art auction and my band and I played the music. The weather was perfect, we had a nice sound system and a helpful sound guy, tons of people came, and there were no glaring issues.

But then my wife showed me a video of us performing my song “Play A Little.” And, man, my voice was so flat.

I’m not looking for reassuring compliments and I’m not being fakely humble. I actually hear the flatness in a lot of my notes.

This is a common occurrence after I play a show — someone will post a video of us playing, I’ll watch it, and quickly turn it off when I hear how off my voice gets at points.

For example, at this concert, we jumped into the bridge of “Be Like Friends,” and the note I hit was WAY off. I couldn’t find the right melody, so I said, “Let’s just skip this part of the song,” and we moved on to the verse as people laughed.

Now, some people might think watching a video of yourself is egotistical, and they’d be right — it can be. But it might not be. It depends on your motive. Ask yourself: why am I watching this video of myself?

For me, I wouldn’t know how to improve my singing, stage presence, or guitar playing if I don’t look at things realistically.

And that’s what videos provide — a dose of reality.


RELATED: As A Musician, Stage Presence Is Crucial


If I hadn’t seen this video (or the many videos before this one), I would go on thinking my voice sounded flawless and that we just put on the most amazing performance that people will be talking about for years, telling their children and grandchildren about the time they saw Caleb J. Murphy the Great.

Riiight…

That’s why musicians (like me) should watch videos of themselves performing. Not to build their ego but to break down their often false perception of themselves.

That way, they can begin to rebuild, strengthening their performance skills.

Attend An Outdoor Concert, Help Us Adopt A Baby

My wife and I are in the process of adopting a newborn from the U.S. The estimated cost for the whole thing is $35,000.

As a musician and writer, you know I’m not making enough money to pay for that on my own.

Murphy adoption

That’s why I’ve been playing shows — to raise money for this. And our community’s generosity has blown us away.

But we have to keep going.

A big concert that’s coming up is an outdoor concert on May 20 in Indiana, Pa. So much fun on one poster.

So many artists and craftists we know have donated their works for us to raffle off.

My band mates are joining me for a night of music.

There will be free food and drinks.

Please come, listen to music, enjoy and enter to win the art, and help us #bringhomebabymurphy.

You can view the Facebook event here and the event on Songkick here.

How To Make Money As A Musician Without Leaving Home

For some artists, touring for weeks and being away from family is easy. Not so for me.

That’s why I try to make money as a musician and a writer without leaving my house (or town).

If you’d like to explore this too, here are five tips for making money from home as a musician.

Guitar Lessons

guitar lessons

I have a friend who charges $20 for a half-hour guitar lesson. In other words, $40/hour. That’s insanely good.

But of course, he’s so good at teaching guitar that $40/hour is fair. He can listen to a song once and jot down the exact chords of the song.

And you don’t have to have an education background. If you’re patient, you can play guitar well, and you’re able to break down all the parts of playing (strumming patterns, finger placement, etc), you can teach guitar.

Offer lessons at your house, charge a fair price, and you’ll be on your way.

Play local shows

Brooks Ritter and company (via picssr.com)

Unless you live in the middle of nowhere, your city or town probably has places to play shows. Even if you do live in the middle of nowhere, you can do house concerts.

Depending on your style of music, look for local venues, bars, pubs, coffee shops, farmer’s markets — all places that usually want music.


RELATED: This Is Why Live Music Will Never Die


Whether or not the venue pays (which they should), you can still make a nice supplemental income playing out. If I play a show every weekend in my local town, I could easily pull in a couple hundred bucks in compensation, door price, merch sales, and tips.

Make music for TV/film

Hans Zimmer
Award-winning film composer Hans Zimmer (photo via The Odyssey Online)

This is an area I haven’t yet broken into, but plenty of artists do it. Take a look through places like Music Bed, Audiosocket, and Marmoset. There’s money to be had in this market for the right musicians.

As long as we have video, those videos will need music.

Jingle writing

I know, it doesn’t sound glamorous at all. But remember that little tune that goes, “Like a good neighbor, State Farm is there”?

Yeah, Barry Manilow wrote that.

Now, he only got paid a flat fee of $500 for it, but surely it advanced his career.

I’m currently writing a jingle for a pet company — it’s not something I flaunt around, but it’s actually pretty fun. Getting paid to make any kind of music is a win-win for me.

And jingle writers make an average of $10,000 per jingle (obviously depending on how big the client is).

Upwork

Upwork
image via Udemy

Upwork is a free website that connects freelancers with clients. Choose your skill sets and you’ll be given a feed of job opps from clients looking for freelancers in your industry.

I currently get about 97% of my work from this site. It’s been amazing for me. A lot of the jobs I see are people looking for jingle writers, songwriters, people who can mix audio, blog writers, and so many others.

It’s worth a shot, right?