Hola! This is a non-exhaustive list of the kinds of ways you can make money in music today.
- Get hired as a producer for others
- Record other peoples music whether starting out climbing the ranks in a studio or being your own boss and freelancing at home
- Mix other people’s music
- Songwriting: Backdoor sessions in big cities with the goal of getting songs pitched to artists to record
- Sync opportunities: Music Licensing is a big deal nowadays. It gives musicians an up front sync fee (upfront money) as well as the opportunity to collect royalties and build long term assets and passive income. It’s the best of both worlds!
- Your own music of course! Distributing on all platforms through Distrokid. They take no cut, and it’s only $20 a year. Not bad. Upload regularly to Youtube, and once you break 1,000 subscribers, you can make money through showing ads. Set up a Patreon account and have your loving fans donate monthly to support you. It’s like Kickstarter and GoFund me but ongoing. Give them rewards for their gifts.
Taxi is an independent A&R site that allows people to pay a membership fee to get unlimited access to thousands of opportunities where professional music supervisors run listings of what they’re looking for. This is unbelievable, and they’re always looking for music in all styles. If your music passes Taxi’s industry screeners, it gets “forwarded” onto whoever is looking for it on your behalf, and Taxi does not take a cut or a percentage. It’s essentially paying for access to these otherwise word of mouth opportunities.
I am a Taxi member and am not getting paid to write about them. I’ve had a few songs forwarded so far, but the key here they say is to write submit and forget. It could be months or years before a music supervisor really needs your song, and it could be in a pile with others. The goal here is quantity, not waiting by the phone for call backs. It’s a numbers game. I just haven’t submitted enough yet!
Some people complain that Taxi is a scam because they never get anything forwarded. I was unfamiliar with sync licensing for awhile, and parts of their website look outdated, but your music has to be “Broadcast Quality” to even stand a chance. And that’s what you’re here for! And not just recording quality, the songs have to be really good!
It works more on the basis of you see an opportunity and write and record based on their info for that opportunity. It does not work as well if you show up with your collection of songs from years ago and ONLY pitch those, and then blame Taxi because you’re inflexible and won’t adapt — no sir.
Taxi has tons of resources for helping their members.
Movie trailers are made on sometimes same day deadlines pitched to composers. Taxi has a section of things like that called Taxi Dispatch. There’s a forum I haven’t used enough where people teach and help others with everything from business and deals to music production and collaboration. Forums are old for the younger crowd but hey, it’s there.
Every November there is the Taxi Road Rally Convention where members fly in from all over the world to learn from the best in workshops and meet in person.
When submitting to a Taxi listing, there is a submission fee of $5. I didn’t get why at first since there is a steep membership annual fee, but it makes sense, it’s there to make sure you’re really serious about what you’re sending. I believe they don’t profit off these submission fees like other companies.
I love that they are always looking for all styles of music on deadlines! Even just having that is a great tool for finishing songs and learning new styles.
A friend of mine just got a deal through Songtradr with Microsoft. I’m not familiar with it yet and will update this post as I learn about more opportunities!
If you’re looking at offering your services, Soundbetter is the new marketplace where musicians hire others in a freelance gig economy style. Here you can find session musicians, songwriters, vocalists, record producers, beat makers, audio engineers, mix engineers, mastering engineers, you name it! There are GRAMMY-winning folks on here looking for gigs that you could even hire them for. These are real people. This is such an incredible opportunity for working collaboratively in music, I can’t believe it sometimes.
If you want to learn more about how to succeed on Soundbetter, I’ve created a free guide that you can check out here.
A very similar site to Soundbetter, just a different vibe. Why not have profiles on both? I know somebody who made $500 quickly by just singing riffs adlibing on 50 tracks.
This site is targeted more towards hip hop producers looking to license their beats. If you have a big catalog then make a profile and start pulling in that passive income!
Non ‘Creative’ Side
- Studio Runner
- Artist Manager
- Studio Manager
- Music Executive
- Label head
A studio runner is much like a PA in film, aka a production assistant. You get the coffee ready, sweep the floors, run to the store to stock up on paper towels and almond milk, take food requests and make food runs. This job is more of a climb-the-ladder type where eventually the goal is to work as the head engineer in a studio.
This is by all means a non exhaustive list and I am learning more every day along side you. If you have any other ideas of online and offline opportunities, please leave a comment below.