Best Ways to Make Money from Your Musical Talent

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busker make music money
Let’s say that you have some music education and/or experience and you want to find a  way to monetize it. This is not an uncommon position to be in, especially among music students who believed the world is their oyster only to find themselves in a highly competitive industry where even the big ones complain about the royalties they get.

Do you want to know the best ways to make money doing music?

Here’s a simplified version.

You can…

  1. make money performing music.
  2. make money by doing music-related jobs.
  3. try to “make it,” but that might be much different than you think.

Still not sure how your music talent could serve as a money-making tool? Let’s dive a bit deeper into the type of jobs you can do and revenue streams you can set up.

How to Make Money Performing Music?

As a performing musician, the very least you can do to earn money is set up on a relatively busy spot and busk. Busking can be a great way to practice performing in front of people, even though it might not be the best way to earn money. Still, busking has
a low barrier to entry, especially in cities that are friendly towards street

Every other way of performing music for money will require some knowledge of marketing. According to Joanne Stills, a marketing executive at Flatfy, even knowing the basics of self-promotion is a great asset, because “networking is how most creative freelancers ensure a steady stream of gigs.”

This surely applies to musicians. As a player who doesn’t have a band, your major sources of income could be from session work or as a stand-in. Session work means that people will hire you to play with them, either in the studio or for live gigs. As a stand-in, your job is to step into someone else’s place, usually on short notice.

Besides having the chops, these opportunities will require you to have a good network of fellow musicians. To be even more employable as a session musician or a stand-in, consider learning to play more instruments than one. Even sticking within the same family of instruments will make you more in-demand.

If you have a band, you can make money gigging at bars and clubs. This, however, isn’t the most lucrative thing you can do because these gigs don’t necessarily pay well. You may even have to play for free. Playing at events is an altogether different deal. And having a wedding band, well that’s where the good money lies, especially when compared to bar gigs that pay less than $100 plus a free drink. Or maybe just the free drink.

Non-Performing Jobs Musicians Can Do

Be a DJ/KJ

Did you know that karaoke hosts are called KJs? Did you know there is such a thing as a karaoke host? Well, there is, and you can be one. Your job is basically to bring people through the door on karaoke evenings and do your part in keeping the good times rolling. Or, you can just be a DJ, in the sense that you can play music at parties, Bar Mitzvahs, or other types of events.

Teach Music

The best ways to make money doing music-related gigs is to teach. Whether you know how to play an instrument, or you know a specific aspect of music like composition or music history, there is always someone who will need to learn it. Again, you’ll need to know a thing or two about advertising to help your private tutoring business take off.

Online Video Channel

And if all that marketing thing really appeals to you, why not start a YouTube channel about music? It’s already a pretty crowded place. So is every other place when it comes to musicians. There’s always too many people fighting around too little money.

Write Songs

And speaking about people fighting for money, if you can become a songwriter and a good one, you can start making good bucks. As a songwriter of a hit song, you can earn more in royalties than the person who performs the song, or the musicians who played it. This is one of the reasons “making it” isn’t as glamorous as it seems, because the money is split  in some very strange ways. And songwriters have it really good.


So there you have it. If you want to perform, you will probably earn the best money by doing weddings, unless you score a gig in a pop star’s backing band. If you want to use your musical talents in a different way, the best way to earn big bucks is to write hit songs like Max Martin does, and that’s easier said than done. But at least now you can figure out where to set your aims.

Kate is a passionate writer who likes sharing her thoughts and experience with the readers. Currently, she works as a real estate agent at She likes everything related to traveling and new countries.

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