How to Make Money as a Musician in 2023: The Essential Guide

In the modern era, musicians have more opportunities than ever to generate income from their craft. But between dwindling album sales and the need to constantly produce new content, profiting off your musical abilities also comes with its challenges. By taking a multifaceted approach – combining conventional and emerging money-making methods – you can establish diverse income streams and turn your passion into a full-time career.

Performing Live Music

Playing live shows remains a primary source of revenue for working musicians in 2023. While touring extensively may not be feasible early on, you can build locally first.

Play Strategic Gigs

Be selective about the venues and events you play early on to match your musical style and experience level. Local bars, restaurants, coffee houses, hotels and music halls provide more intimate settings to hone your performance abilities and build an initial fanbase before expanding into larger clubs and theaters.

Research details like typical audience size, genres hosted, pay structure, marketing support and equipment provided at each venue to determine if they are a good strategic fit as you grow your local reputation.

Sell Merch

Offering merchandise for sale at your shows gives fans tangible collectibles representing their connection to you and your music. On average, merchandise accounts for about 20% of revenue from live performances across the music industry.

Common merch items include t-shirts, hoodies, hats, posters, keychains, pins, stickers, CDs, vinyl records and custom-made specialty items centered around your brand aesthetics.

Release Music Widely

Music streaming and digital music sales make up 65% of total industry revenues in 2023. Ensuring your music is accessible across all major platforms is key.

Upload to Streaming Services

Payouts per stream tend to range from $0.003–$0.005 across subscription-based platforms like Spotify and Apple Music up to $0.015–$0.025 on sites like SoundCloud that also generate revenue via ads. Reaching broader audiences with your music accrues streams and royalty income.

Platform Pay Per Stream Unique Monthly Visitors
Spotify $0.003–$0.005 456 million
Apple Music $0.01 90 million
Amazon Music $0.004 112 million
YouTube Music $0.0006–$0.0038 30 million

Sell Digital Downloads & Physical Copies

Bandcamp, your website store, and sites like Gumroad allow you to sell downloads, CDs, vinyl records, flash drives and other physical products directly. Set fair prices, run occasional sales, create special edition packages and leverage collectibility.

Sync Licensing & Placement

Pitch your music for use in TV, movies, video games, advertising campaigns and more through synchronization licensing. These deals provide one-time negotiated sync fees and public performance royalties too.

Music Supervisors

Music supervisors handle selecting songs to complement media projects. Send concise, personalized intro emails showcasing standout tracks from your catalog that fit their needs. Follow up persistently and offer to score custom instrumental tracks for key scenes when possible.

Production Music Libraries

Libraries like AudioSocket and MusicVine license songs to production companies. You get recurring back-end royalties in exchange for upfront no-risk payments. They often seek genre-based submissions to fill specific mood needs for media projects.

Instruction & Workshops

One-on-one music lessons remain extremely popular, providing consistent income. You can also lead group classes or specialized workshop sessions to diversify.

Develop Your Teaching Skills

Strong musical abilities alone don’t always translate to effective teaching capacity. Seek out pedagogy certification courses and mentorship from veteran instructors. Build lesson plans organically based on each student‘s strengths, weaknesses and goals.

Market Yourself Locally

Leverage old-fashioned local ads and word-of-mouth in addition to digital promotion. Having existing students and area music shops refer prospective students to you helps convert new business. Emphasize experience and specialties.

By combining income from performing, releasing music across all major platforms, capitalizing on licensing opportunities, teaching students hands-on, and selling products, you can absolutely profit consistently off your musical abilities.