How do you make money as a musician, especially if you’re not backed by a record label?
Selling music and merch at shows are two “go to” options for most bands and solo acts. But beyond that, what else can you do?
In this article, we’ll introduce you to five other ways you can make money as a musician — all from real-life answers we received from five successful independent musicians.
We asked each of them this question:
- Outside of record deals or playing shows, what are some unique things that you’re doing as a music artist to earn a living?
Here’s what they had to say…
1. Future Sunsets: “Offer Exclusive Behind-the-Scenes Action”
One way that Future Sunsets, a rock band that does originals and covers on YouTube, makes money is to give exclusive access to behind-the-scenes content to their patrons.
Patrons. gain access to the Future Sunset Lens feed, where where the band posts videos, behind-the-scenes photos, and updates about the band.
Fans can join higher tiers for additional exclusives, such as digital downloads of the band’s entire catalog, participation in an exclusive, livestream hangout session, or an invitation to help choose the single for the band’s latest albums.
2. Maria Z: “Offer Exclusive Video Hangouts’
Another way to make money is to provide paying fans exclusive access to a video hangout with you or your band. That’s what Maria Z, a solo musician with 50,000 subscribers on YouTube, offers to patrons that pledge $10 or more.
To set this up, Maria uses Google Hangouts to host a video chat with paying fans. Fans can then ask her questions, get updates on future projects, and pitch live requests for songs. She also livestreams concerts for her patrons once a month.
3. Taylor Ray Holbrook: “Offer Fans Early Access to Songs”
Taylor Ray Holbrook went from working as a lumberjack to making a living as a full-time independent musician. Taylor released his first single “Steal My Kiss” two years ago, which turned him into a Billboard charting, independent artist.
Since then, Taylor has supported his independent career partly through Patreon. In exchange for membership, his patrons recieve exclusive content, videos, and updates in return.
One of Taylor’s unique packages is early access to songs as he writes them. Fans that contribute $10 per piece of work created (a new YouTube video or song) can hear Taylor’s songs as he creates them.
He also shares why he writes the songs and the stories behind them. He even turns to these fans for advice when it comes time for his next project (like advice on album track order).
Fans can join tiers at different levels ranging from $1 per piece of work created all the way up to $100. Fans that commit $1 receive access to a feed with exclusive updates and videos released. Fans that pay $100 are included in the credits at the end of Taylor’s videos and receive personalized Happy Birthday videos.
4. Nate Maingard: “Let Fans Pay What They Want For Your Music”
One way that Nate Maingard makes money as a musician is by allowing patrons to pay what they want for his music. Instead of putting a set price on his tracks or albums, fans can decide how much they want to pay.
In theory, fans can pay as little as $0.01 or download Nate’s music for free. But, more often than not, fans commit more money than what Nate would have priced his music at. This allows fans to support Nate in his music career.
In addition to Nate’s “name-your-own-pricing” model, he also offers his patrons early access to his songs. Fans that commit to the $3-per-month tier receive access to Nate’s music before anyone else. He also follows these fans on Twitter.
Fans that commit $5 per month get to vote on which songs Nate will record next. Fans that pay $10 per month get to attend a monthly Q&A livestream hangout.
5. Marina V: “Host Exclusive Dinner Events for Fans”
Marina V is a Russian-American music artist. One unique way that Marina has managed to make money as an independent musician is by hosting authentic Russian-cuisine dinners at her house that patrons can attend.
The dinner gives Marina a chance to connect with patrons and answer any questions they may have for her. Patrons can also request song performances from Marina and her husband.
In addition to hosting dinner for her patrons, Marina has what she calls the “2 Songs a Month Club.” Members of this club receive two exclusive song downloads per month that are not released anywhere else. To be part of this club, fans can contribute $3 to $10 per song.
Marina also offers paying fans access to behind-the-scenes documentaries.