12 Smart Ways to Make Money as a Music Producer
As music production evolves throughout the years, the opportunities for music producers, musician and artists are also continuing to boom with endless possibilities. Back in the days, it was quite harder to make money unless you’re signed under a label or have big-time connections in the music industry. Things have changed drastically since then. The internet has now become a door to countless opportunities, with the entire world as the audience.
Sending out your demos to music labels while you wait for them to discover you is no longer a thing. Going bar to bar, begging owners to hire you play at their venues is also a practice that’s getting quite obsolete. It doesn’t work that way anymore and this time around, your success is at your fingertips.
Here are 12 smart ways on how to make money as a music producer:
1. Sell beats or royalty-free music
For the past few years, there has been a surge of music producers and beat makers who sell “type beats” to independent singers, artists and rappers. Most of them are making a killing selling instrumentals on their websites and other platforms while using social media to market their digital products.
Beat prices range from $19 and up, depending on the quality of the beat, how big the clientele is and how famous you are as a producer. Licensing types are also considered when it comes to pricing (non-exclusive lease vs. exclusive tiers)but there is no set rule for this.
Read more: What is royalty free music?
The great thing about selling beats is the perk of earning while you sleep – make a beat now, sell it on your website and move on. Repeat daily, weekly or monthly depending on your schedule. Passive income is the way to go!
The best way to start is to produce at least 10-20 beats to jump start your business. This number is ideal if you’re just beginning, as it won’t be too overwhelming to accomplish and manage. Next is to get a domain name for your website from an array of top domain registrars such as GoDaddy, Bluehost and Hostgator. Your domain name should be consistent with your brand.
Once you’re done with the first few steps, hire someone to do your beat store logo or make one on your own. You can outsource from freelancing websites such as Fiverr, where you can have your logo made starting at five dollars and up. However, if you decide to do it on your own, there are tons of graphic design tutorials on YouTube that you can check out.
The final step is to choose your website hosting service. Here are some of the top hosting services to pick from, made exclusively for beatmakers:
- TRAKTRAIN – The platform itself doesn’t take any money from your MP3 sales while charging 0% on paid membership. Definitely recommended.
- Beatstars – The most popular among producers, with free and paid account options.
- Airbit – Formerly known as myFlashStore, this online marketplace almost has the same features but you can maximize the forums where you get to interact with fellow producers.
2. Make a YouTube Channel
Ever wondered how PewDiePie, Logan Paul and Ryan ToysReview got so big in the YouTube space, earning billions of dollars?All of them started from the bottom, like everyone else. Churning out content day in, day out and being “everywhere” on social media, making names for themselves as they grow their fan base.
Uploading your beats on YouTube and running a channel with a consistent upload schedule will not only grow your portfolio but your business as well. On top of that,you can also do music producer vlogs or behind-the-scenes content which your followers might like. Plan out your branding strategy and be unique enough in order to stand out from the rest.
Start by regularly uploading content in order to qualify for the YouTube Partner Program. Your goal is to reach 1,000 subscribers and 4,000 watch hours before you can monetize your channel. Once you’ve reached these milestones, you will then be qualified to monetize.
Don’t forget to set up a Google AdSense account to withdraw your future AdSense income.
3. Use Patreon to increase your Income Streams
So, what is Patreon, you ask? Patreon is a membership platform that provides business tools for creators to run a subscription content service, with ways for artists to build relationships and provide exclusive experiences to their subscribers, or”patrons” (Conte, 2017).
This will be like a secret fans club. Your patrons will subscribe to you for a fee in exchange for exclusive content that other subscribers don’t have access to.
You can post anything that your subscribers might be interested in such as, behind-the-scenes videos, customized music or maybe even a personalized video chat – the list goes on. Be creative and figure out how you’ll be able to give that unique experience that your patrons will enjoy.
The most effective way to use Patreon is to advertise it on your YouTube channel. You can paste the link in your video description, but you can also give your followers a heads up through other social media platforms.
4. Sell sample packs
When it comes to music production, there are producers who can come up with their own synth riffs, tweak their drum sounds and effects. However, there are also others who can’t or don’t have the time to.
They desperately need you! If you’re that kind of producer who also has a knack for sound design, then this is the perfect way for you to make money.
Make customized drum kits, synth samples, as well as presets packs for VST’s like Serum, Massive, Sylenth and many more. Sell these samples on your website and don’t forget to add artwork to make it more visually appealing.
Another option is to sell these packs through sample libraries. Here are some of the most popular ones:
- Splice Sounds – With over two million royalty-free samples,midi files and presets, this online catalog is very popular among music producers. Fill out this sounds provider submission form to submit your sample packs.
- ADSR Sounds – Not only does this website feature a wide variety of royalty-free samples, but it also sells music production video courses which definitely attracts the right target market. Try your luck and submit what you’ve got!
5. Offer Mixing and Mastering Services
Ah, yes! The most important step before releasing music – mixing and mastering. You might be wondering, “How many artists, singers, rappers are releasing music on a regular basis?” Tons of them, especially the independent ones.
Booking a high-end professional studio for this service might break the buck for most artists who are on a tight budget. If you have an ear for balancing mix and making it the best version it can be, take advantage of that and offer these services for a more affordable price, depending of course on the number of tracks, the level of your expertise, studio equipment and other factors that you’d like to consider.
There are mixing engineers out there who charge from $50-$200 per song, but this will change depending on individual preferences. Some professional studios charge higher and you can totally charge more if you’re in that caliber.
6. Offer your services to Freelancing websites
Freelancing websites are commonly perceived as platforms which are only good for administrative work and IT-related jobs. Although a majority of employers are looking for these services, there’s also a market that music producers can take advantage of.
There are clients who are in need of music for their short films, startup ads and independently released apps or games. If you’re versatile enough and is also willing to try other audio-related tasks, there are jobs like custom song production, nursery rhymes composition, podcast editing, music content writing and many more.
Here are some of the most popular websites among freelancers:
- Upwork– Formerly known as oDesk, this freelancing website is the biggest and fastest-growing marketplace which caters to millions of freelancers and clients around the globe. Due to an overwhelming number of applications, Upwork is very selective when it comes to welcoming freelancers onto their platform. In order to get your account approved, make sure to you create an impressive profile and portfolio. Take the required tests based on your skills to increase your chances of getting hired.
- Fiverr– One of the most popular sites for creative freelancers, Fiverr lets you offer services for as low as five dollars. When starting out, you can offer cheap services for basic music production gigs like creating a 30-second custom instrumental with 1-2 instruments. Later on, you can add extra fees for longer lengths and additional work, but make sure to offer your premium services for what it’s really worth. Don’t be afraid jack the price up when you need to.
7. Explore music licensing
One of the most lucrative field to add to your list is music licensing for TV and film. Awesome, right? But how does it work? Basically, you make instrumental cues or songs with vocals that could work for TV or film, pitch them to music libraries and wait until you get signed to be part of their catalog.
Your music has to be really good in order to succeed in this field. Networking and a little bit of people skills will come in handy as you deal with music supervisors and library owners who will help you get sync placements.
There are some libraries which offer upfront sync payments ranging from a few hundred dollars to thousands. These fees are to be split equally between the library and the composer, but there are also some which don’t offer upfront payments. Despite that, the exciting thing about music licensing is the back-end income, which will start flourishing once you start getting royalties. Imagine making tons of tracks to be placed on international TV shows, with re-runs and worldwide broadcast.
Remember, it is also a numbers game – the more you make music and pitch to different libraries, the more you earn and expand your opportunities and connections.
Here are a couple of music licensing websites worth checking out:
- Crucial Music – Running their music catalog for almost a decade, Crucial Music connects artists, composers and songwriters to licensing opportunities for blockbuster films, Emmy winning shows and big brand spots. This library is very selective, so you have to make sure that what you’re submitting is at par with what you hear on TV, film and commercials. You can submit your music here but you’ll have to be patient because it usually takes them a month before you get a reply, probably due to a handful of applications they receive on a daily basis.
- Marmoset – Another library which meticulously curates music for licensing. This company prides itself in terms of selecting music from rare and emerging artists, bands and record labels.
8. Teach Music Lessons
Do you know how to play the piano? The guitar or drums, perhaps? Whatever your instrument may be, you can use your talent to teach other people and develop theirs. Depending on your preference, you can do it at your home studio, offer home service and go to your students’ homes or do it via Skype if you’re after the convenience.
Advertise online using your website or use Facebook ads, and target potential clients near you. As for Skype lessons, don’t limit yourself and try to teach students from different parts of the globe.
9. Sell online courses and tutorials
Apart from teaching one-on-one lessons, you can also up your passive income game by selling pre-recorded online courses and tutorials. Most online courses are done through video, but you may enhance the experience and make use of all media,including audio, texts and photos.
Even better if you can produce something more interactive, to make it more fun and immersive while your students learn at the same time.
You can do this on your website, but if you’re looking for a third party platform to help you sell these courses to the right target market, you can check out these websites:
- Udemy– With over 80,000 courses and 24 million students, this online learning platform is great for creative entrepreneurs and music producers who want to offer their courses in an organized and interactive way of learning.
- Lynda– This online learning platform offers a more flexible subscription model to students by charging monthly fees in exchange for unlimited access to all courses on their platform. This setup gives you more exposure to untapped market niches and students who might be interested in exploring music production courses.
10. Put your music in all streaming sites like Spotify, iTunes and Google Play
Another way to earn while you sleep – streaming royalties! If you’ve established your brand as a beat maker, you can double your income by also making music for a fan base. This time around, you’re no longer working behind the scenes but at the forefront – you are the main artist.
For starters, you can take advantage of these music distribution services depending on your needs:
- Distrokid – For only $19.99 a year, you can upload an unlimited number of songs and albums. Distrokid also features an automated system for royalty splits if you’re releasing music as a collaboration with other artists.
- Tunecore – Although this distribution company charges more, they are more transparent when it comes to your earnings, reports and analytics.
11. Sell your own merchandise
Yes, you read that right. Selling your own merchandise is another smart way to keep the money rolling in. You can sell anything from t-shirts and caps, to key chains and wristbands – it’s all up to you, the possibilities are endless.
This step will involve some graphic designs kills and you can either make your own designs or hire someone to do the job for you. These designs will have to be consistent with your brand. You’ll be using a logo for the most part, but feel free to throw in your tagline or some catchphrases that you made popular to your fan base. It can be anything that’s related to your brand, anything that represents you as a music producer, as an artist.
Build your fan base from the ground up by advertising on all social media platforms and nurture your community through online engagement.
In order to do that successfully, you will definitely need help from these merchandising services:
- Redbubble – A global online marketplace for print-on-demand products, Red bubble can make and distribute products from t-shirts to phone cases.
- Printful – This print-on-demand website has been around since 2000 and is popular among entrepreneurs who advertise products on their e-commerce website.
12. Make money using your other creative talents
Whether it be graphic design, video editing,photography or article writing, using your other creative talents will not only make you a well-rounded artist, but also a smart and strategical creative entrepreneur.
Most music producers are creative individuals who have many talents besides making music. By maximizing all of your skills, you are also maximizing your financial growth. Don’t be afraid to explore and step outside of your comfort zone.
These are just some of the smartest ways to make money as a music producer. It may be overwhelming for some, but hard work, perseverance and versatility will go a long way if you want to survive in this challenging industry.
You don’t have to be a starving artist forever; turn your life around and take action, pursue what you love to do and earn from it.
Now that I’ve given you some tips to make money as a music producer, it’s time for you to explore. Prior to what many people say, thanks to the internet it’s possible to make a full time living as a music producer.
Let me know which monetization method you decide to pursue? Or maybe you have one which I didn’t mention here. Let me know in the comment section below.