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How Can Musicians Make (More!) Money Online & Offline

No bullsh*t ultimate guide.

Photo by Joecalih / Unsplash

“A few years ago, I was a musical artist with Sony and Universal but, to be honest, I didn’t understand the business side of things and didn’t make it big,” shares a user on Reddit in a thread that almost screams 'How do modern musicians REALLY make their money?'

And something tells us that this musician isn’t alone.

The music industry is problematic, and the artists' struggle is real. Most of the musicians can’t make a living making music alone simply because they can’t make it even to mid-level, let alone become mainstream artists and superstars. Chartmetric reveals that nearly 99% of musicians ended 2023 in the Undiscovered and Developing categories, while the remaining 0.1% were labelled as Mid-Level, Mainstream, or Superstar.

For most artists, the streaming payouts are simply ridiculous as streaming companies have the monopoly to decide how much they're going to pay. Apple Music, which is generally considered more generous than Spotify, can pay as low as $0.000365 per stream. How cool is that?

One of the reasons is that the music industry isn’t merely about music. It’s an entertainment industry where artists are Jacks of all trades but masters of only some. They’re TikTokers, video bloggers, marketers, business people, content creators… you name it.

In this guide, we won’t debate whether music is business and if you should make money with music at all. We’ll simply provide you with a few ideas that you’ll, hopefully, find useful enough to choose.

Oh, and we won’t mention touring, streaming, and selling merch on purpose because we believe these ways have already crossed your minds.

Use your skill on the other side of the music industry


One of the ways to make your music work and bring you some money is to licence it, so that other creatives or companies could use it. Master use licensing means that musicians or record labels grant authorisation for their original master recordings to be utilised in visual media like films, TV series, commercials, or video games. Compensation you’ll get can come in the form of upfront payments or royalties, depending on usage, distribution channels, and audience engagement.

When your earnings depend on usage, you'll receive payments from a performing rights organisation like ASCAP or BMI. These entities monitor the public commercial utilisation of artists' music, diligently gathering and redistributing royalties to the rightful artists.

Sync licensing, or synchronisation licensing, is pretty similar to master licensing, but with a focus on the composition or underlying musical work rather than the actual sound recording. Oftentimes, licensees may opt to re-record a song instead of utilising the original master recording.

The management of sync licensing falls under the purview of the songwriter, composer, or music publisher who possesses the rights to a musical composition. To monetise a sync licence, you must hold one or more of these ownership statuses. Typically, you'll need to actively seek out purchasers for the synchronisation rights to your music. Synch licensing libraries like Music Gateway can facilitate connections with potential buyers.

To start licensing your music, you’ll need to approach a specialised community of music libraries, music supervisors, creators, and agents who need impeccably crafted, professional recordings and compositions that are both distinctive yet accessible. Yes, networking is key here.

Your music should comply with the market demand if you want to secure sync placements, so you’ll probably need to create something of value not just to yourself but to the market at large. Yes, this may seem counterintuitive to creativity, but to sustain a career in music or simply to earn a livelihood for a year or two, you just have to offer something the market deems worthy of investment.

Approach your music endeavours with a business mindset—the objective is to generate revenue. If music alone isn't cutting it, don't hesitate to take on multiple jobs while allocating time each day to your craft.

To seek guidance from experts aligned with your goals, you can subscribe to Jesse Cannon's YouTube channel or explore the Band as Business course on Udemy (even if it's somewhat outdated).


“I have a part time job teaching at a local conservatory (musical theatre). This is currently 2 days per week and makes up about 40% of my income,” a Redditor shares in the same thread we referred to in the beginning of this guide.

Well, they’re clearly not alone because many musicians teach. In fact, up to two thirds of musicians are working as music teachers at any one time. If you want to consider it as an additional revenue stream, you can start your own short course that you’re best at and then gradually create an online music school. Here are a few ideas to start the ball rolling:

  • You can offer one-on-one lessons in person or online to supplement your income as a musician.
  • You can consider becoming a certified music teacher to work full-time in schools.
  • You can sell access to your teaching materials like video lessons and sheet music.
  • Or just use platforms like Podia or Thinkific to create and sell online music courses.

Another option is to contact a school that teaches music and let them pick up your brain and skill. Some options are SoundFly, Hyperbits, and SpiritStudios.

Run a studio

For business-mindset-owners and true masters of sound, there’s another ambitious option—run your own recording studio that works with emerging artists.  

According to BusinessDojo, the average revenue from each client can be around $2,200, and studios can earn significantly more by offering a range of services and managing costs effectively. Beyond just recording music, studios can offer post-production, sound editing, and audio mastering for various clients including musicians, ad agencies, and filmmakers, which broadens the potential revenue streams.

Besides, if you have a home recording setup, you can capitalise on it by renting out your space to local musicians, providing them with an alternative recording venue.

Mix, master, or write songs as a freelancer

Just as you can craft songs for other artists, you can become their producer who oversees the recording process within a studio setting. Producers may opt for a flat fee or negotiate a share of royalties for a song or album. For newcomers to the field, the industry standard typically ranges between $200 and $400 per song, depending on your experience and portfolio.

Many musicians excel at their instruments but struggle to write good songs. You needn't restrict yourself to writing solely for your own endeavours, either. The true value lies in the song itself, presenting an opportunity for you to become a songwriter for other artists or bands.

And if you’re good, really good at music mixing and mastering, you should seriously consider offering these services online to assist fellow musicians. To enhance your chances of securing work as a mixing/mastering engineer, it’s wise to specialise in a specific style or genre.

Do session work

Session work may not hold the same allure it once did, but it remains a lucrative avenue for musicians to earn income. But what does it even mean—to do session work?

Traditionally, being a studio musician for hire involved responding to local band's needs, whether it be providing tight drumming for a new single or lending your musical prowess to various projects.

However today, session work has shifted predominantly online. Musicians can now offer their services as session guitarists, vocalists, drummers, bassists, or in any other capacity, to clients located anywhere across the globe. The average annual salary for a session musician is around $54,600, but the range can go up to $100,000+ depending on the project and the musician's experience.

Online methods to earn some additional money as a musician

We’ll start with the most obvious and, in our opinion, easiest way to earn money online—affiliate programs. You don’t need to have millions of Instagram followers to jump on it; even a few social media channels and networking will do to start earning money being an affiliate.

There are several music-focused affiliate programs that offer commission rates ranging from 3% up to 70% per sale. With the right strategy and audience, the earning potential can be significant, with some programs offering $50-$120 per sale on average order values of $250-$400.

What will you have to sell? There's a wide range of products that music affiliate programs cover—from instruments and accessories to online courses, software, and digital content, so you’ll be able to easily find something and promote products relevant to your audience and expertise, diversifying your income streams.

Best affiliate programs for musicians


LALAL.AI, a stem separation service and AI voice changer, has an affiliate program with one of the highest commission rates in the industry. According to the LALAL.AI website, you will get 30% of the revenue from each sale as a commission. The platform tracks payments received through their partners using an affiliate link and cookies. Commission payouts are issued every month via PayPal.

Source: LALAL.AI

All you need to do to start with the affiliate program by LALAL.AI is to fill out the form they have on the website and wait for 48 hours—the team says you will become their partner in less than two days.


Soundraw is a popular text-to-music AI tool that also offers an affiliate program which you can combine with the program above or other money-making methods. It works similar to LALAL.AI: you just need to fill out the form, wait for the approval, and put an individual coupon code/link, so that your audience or fellow musicians could find and use it. When they do, you'll earn an 8% commission.

Splash Music

Last but not least is the affiliate program by Splash Music, another AI music creating tool. The service offers a 20% commission of every new paying subscriber you bring in. The payments are made monthly via PayPal.

Sell loops, beats, samples, and even your voice

There are plenty of platforms available for selling beats and samples online, whether it's through your own website, YouTube channel, SoundCloud, Telegram channels, or online marketplaces. Here are a few places for you to get started:

  1. Airbit: Sell beats, sound packs, and other audio content. It features a powerful beat search engine and has over 800,000 users, with two million plus beats sold, and over $45 million delivered to producers to date.
  2. Beatstars: This is one of the biggest beat-selling platforms with over 5 million visitors monthly. It offers a browsable marketplace, charts system, customisable store widgets, and a full website integration. Beatstars also has a publishing arm through Sony Music.
  3. Bandzoogle: This platform allows musicians to sell beats directly on their own website, commission-free, and with control over the price.
  4. TRAKTRAIN: Offers a seamless and user-friendly experience for producers to upload and sell their beats to artists and content creators. It features a custom storefront, flexible pricing options, and transparent commission rates.

Alright, it’s clear with beats and samples, but what about your own voice? Turns out you can “lend your voice” to an AI voice generation company that values ethical data sourcing to train their voice models. You surely know there are now dozens of AI voice cloning tools available. Well, not all of them want to use copyright-protected songs to train models but rather pay vocalists to use their voices as a data source instead. and Voice-Swap are just a few to name.

Licence your music on stock music sites

You've likely encountered the concept of stock photos—platforms where creators and brands can procure licences to utilise images in their projects. Similarly, there’s a counterpart for music known as music libraries. These libraries facilitate the licensing of songs for indie movies, TV shows, commercials, and other creative endeavours that lack the budget to licence chart-topping hits featured in major motion pictures or television programs.

When you upload your music to a stock music site, you’ll need to provide details such as genre, mood, instrumentation, and more, enhancing the visibility of your music in searches. Ensuring that your songs align with these search criteria can increase the likelihood of landing placements and receiving compensation. Some of these libraries are AudioJungle, Pond5, Artlist, Epidemic Sound, and Songtradr.

Be active online: YouTube, Twitch, TikTok

It’s not exactly true to say that you can’t do without social media whatsoever, but leveraging them will increase your opportunities, that’s for sure. YouTube, Twitch, TikTok, and Instagram aren’t just places to get your music discovered and build a fandom around it; these platforms are also a working way to monetise your content—be it streams, ads, sync placements, or anything totally different.

Of course, Twitch donations are significant only if you’re already a popular DJ and TikTok royalties weigh something only in case you’re a pop star. But it doesn’t mean you should disregard it. Instead, use social media as an opportunity to promote your other channels and mix several methods from this guide to sell your music for as much as it’s really worth.