What it Takes to Make Money as a Musician

There is common misconception that musicians are in the midst of a peter pan phase in their lives that they will eventually grow out of in order to adopt a serious career path. Most would be hard pressed to find a musician who never got beef from a friend or family member about how a career in music is impractical and will lead to a life of financial insecurity. These beliefs are not always true and in fact, there are ways for amateur musicians to make money doing what they love.

Outlined here is a list of ways for musicians to increase their money-making potential.

  • Make fans of the people close to you

Before you hit it big on the global stage, you need to hit it big with the people who are willing to listen to your creative ideas with no strings attached. Family and friends are the ones who you can easily pin down to critique your work and share their opinion. In the beginning of your musical career, it is not a bad idea to give out your music for free in order to get the most feedback from objective listeners who won’t tell you what you want to hear. The best thing an artist can do in order to broaden their base of fans is to get feedback from as many people as possible. The more people you hear from, the more you are likely to please the musical palate of your potential fans.

  • Register your songs with the Copyright office

If you are slaving away in the studio trying to perfect your art, investing at the Copyright office to have it protected from plagiarism (around $40) could be worth your while in the future. Trying to figure out what to express in a song is very personal and deserves to be respected as such. Maintaining the uniqueness of your sound starts with protecting what you have created and protecting your creative talent. Go to copyright.gov to learn how you can secure your music now.

  • Play live as often as you can

Whether you are making money from the gigs you do early on is not important. What is important is exposing yourself to the scene in which you hope to have a career in. Every single artist that holds a seat in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame started out playing for free and they all understood the value of this “free labor”. Spending more time doing the skill that you hope to make money off of one day will only benefit you in the long run. The only way professional athletes get better at their sport is by practicing their skills and the only way doctors get better at their care is by continuing to study. And on top of this, if you really love music and want it to be the focus of your career, then you should enjoy practicing your art whenever you get the chance.

  • Do some research and really know the label that you want to sign with

As many of us out there in the job world can attest, there is nothing more awkward than showing up to an interview and being asked about the company with little to say in return. If you want a label to sign you, then it’s important that you can explain why you chose them out of other potential options. Since this music publisher is going to be investing time and money into making you a successful artist, it is your responsibility to do the research and find out exactly how they can help you and meet your needs.

  • Get an “Entertainment Law Attorney” to represent you

All too often, we hear the horror story from musicians about how they were exploited by dishonest managers and representatives and are left with less than what they had when they started their music career.  While it would be nice if the music world could just be based on talent and performance alone, business does play a huge role in who becomes successful and who doesn’t. Someone who has all the talent in the world, but no one to help them navigate the ever-confusing copyright law or contracting law, will soon be overshadowed by those with more power on the business front. Do yourself a favor and avoid this strife by getting help from someone in the field of law to fight the world of contracts and copyrights for you.

While it’s easy to get put off by the hassle of hiring and paying for attorneys and managers and copyrights, there is no reason why musicians should go uneducated in music business. Whether you come to terms with it now or later, business is going to be something you will have to deal with as a musician if you want to incur a large fan base. Becoming more business savvy is as easy as getting a book on music business from the library or doing some online article reading, like this one, on the relevant topics.  If you are an up and coming musician trying to break through in the music world while still making money, knowledge really is power.