I got a question: How do you make money with your music?

Luck is a human construct. Nature works by distribution (some refers to this as, in mysterious ways), and we tend to think of this in terms of luck-of-the-draw, one-in-so-many, coincidence, happenstance, etc., simply because we do not possess the ability to predict inconceivable number of combinations of events.

It comes down to windows of opportunity, within a spectrum of “slots” from one end to the other, from low to high, min to max, whichever range of measure chosen, there is it is. One can certainly alter ones position on this scale, though this also includes more or less “other” modifying causalities.

Add timing to this, and you will have a perpetual maze of… luck? :wink:

Be creative, imaginative, inventive, love and hate, keep a regular job, make music, live. See a window? Take a look!

Bravo! Elektrobolt! I by no means am saying “leave your job with NOTHING and hope to find something.” lol However, if you have a passion, or a dream, then the LEAST you can do is work towards it. No matter your circumstances, you can ALWAYS be working on your goal. Even if it’s just “I want to make one more measure for this song this week.” Doing something like that will, alone, make someone a happier person. There is a certain amount of “luck” involved. However, it is not by luck that you possess the skills when presented with an opportunity.

I start playing and people pay me to leave - works every time.

One of the best websites for help and information on how to succeed in the business:


Above are a lot of good advices imho. But the main question should be “am i usefull to someone/something to get being paid for”. The main focus starts not from within you, but is depending on how the world around you is looking towards you. “Does someone want to give me money for what i am doing ?”

Talent alone is not enough. There might be hundreds of people who can do the same thing as you can do, and probably lots can do it a lot better. Having a mentor within the scene where your intrest is in, is also a must imo. Opportunities are literaly all around you, but you should be the one that gets it.

So it’s a competition in every aspect. Even if you decide to create your own opportunity by creating a business, you will notice that that competition is even more harsch and on every corner there is someone waiting to take your opportunities away.

I see a lot of people who try to make a living from their music. Very very few succeed in doing this, and by far the most have a second or even a third job. (music teaching, performance assisting, working in a music shop, working for steinberg…)

Fwiw to me the most important thing is that your main revenue is sorted out first. This might not be what you want to do forever, but this will allow you to work and progress towards the goal you’ve set for yourself without having the need to wonder what you are going to eat on a daily basis.

Many many years ago i had the same dream. Getting a life based on making and selling my music. Best thing that happened to me is that my parents didn’t allow me to do so, and since then i’ve been quite a lot of things, most of them succesfull, and i still have a good job, a good income, and… after 25 years of sitting home in the evening before my gear, i now finally play for crowds, being flown all over the place, and having fun in my very little spare time. Because i waited untill there was an opportunity, and i took it when it presented itself. Believe me, having a hobby as a musician is a way more fun approach, then having to wonder every day over and over again to find people who want to pay you, just for that single thing you apparantly can do well.

One last personal opinion that can be helpfull imho: learn to love what you are doing, instead of trying to do what you think you love to do. Thoughts change a lot over time.

kind regards,

I make money by playing live and doing online sax sessions every now and then, but not enough to quit my day job.
I’ve been a pro musician (playing in a cover band) for almost ten years during the nineties, but it wasn’t always easy…

I’m a semi-pro nowadays. I’ve got a regular income from my parttime IT-work, so I can be choosy about my music projects.

The year is 1768. As a Violinist, you may be able to make a living at it by performing and teaching. At that time in history, there is no way to make a sound recording. If you want music, you have to pay a musician. All recorded music is on paper and it requires voice, instruments and learning to perform and earn money.

Now the year is 1968 and there are thousands standing in line waiting to throw themselves into a contract with the Record label. It doesn’t matter that this is going to make it so just a small handful of writers and musicians will be able to make a living at playing and writing music. And those who do will live a life of excess. If you are good enough, you may be able to find a session gig at a recording studio in New York, San Francisco or better yet Los Angeles. You can stand in the shadow of the Capital Records building and see several recording studios. You may walk down to the Whiskey or the Troubadour. You may want to join Tommy and Dicky Smothers at the Ice House in Pasadena. They have found a way to record it once, make money on every record or CD sold. Imagine if you could find a way to work one day and get paid for it the rest of your life! But, it doesn’t happen forever. Someone finds a way to control it. How many Rock Stars have lived a miserable life after fame is done with them? How many couldn’t control themselves and died of drug overdoses?

The year is 2008. Recording studios are falling like dead soldiers. Lawyers now control the music industry and they can take their pick of who gets the treatment and who does not. No one writes anymore, they just copy samples from other peoples “Music”. Drummers are made of silicon and they don’t stink after a grueling four set gig. Talented Guitarists stand on the side of the road hoping to get days work. Classically trained Pianists sack groceries at Ralphs and spend time in their home studio trying to come up with something new. But it has all been done. It was done in the 1700’s with the Mozarts. It was done in the 1960’s with Iron Butterfly and Eric Clapton. It was all done in the 1970’s with Led Zeppelin, Creedence and a host of others who struck before the world went dark. Back when you had a guitar or piano. a bar stool and a crowd of people who had come to witness genius one last time from a poet who knew how to make people weep.

And the world is left with a longing for a melody. A rhyme put to lyric that makes life mean something for a moment. It is not about the money, not for the musician or the songwriter. But it is about money to those who control the industry. The money is still there but it no longer flows through many hands. Only a few. Every once in awhile someone comes along and kicks the wall down and the music tyrants lose control for a time. But the day after the walls come down they begin building again. Finding ways to keep the next wall kicker from escaping the mundane world of playing music.

You have to find peace in what you do. You have to sing for the right reasons. You have to find pleasure in driving down the road in a dirty old 18 wheeler writing songs about your wife that loves you and knows you better than anyone else in the world. You have to find beauty in a grandchild who sits down to play a song for their Nana and Poppy. In this, there is nobility in being a musician.

Well put! Bravo!

That is the essence of Music. :sunglasses:


I think musicians tend to put artificial barriers between themselves and their would be audience. I missed the show but I remember when Sugarland played in front of the Diamond Grocery Store here in Saginaw Texas. It was a band on the trailer in front of crowd. I know a few that attended and I guess it was something else.

There is a purity to playing live and I miss it. It is like walking a tightrope with no net. It is the possibility of falling that pushes you to do your best. You launch into your opening number and the crowd stands up and moves to the front of the stage. No more vague observes in the back of the room, they are all right there where you can stumble and fall and be found out as a mediocrity. You get provoked into not disappointing them. That marginal song that you used as filler now has to stand on its own merit…and somehow you pulled off a lead part that you didn’t know you had in you.

Music is a glory that not everyone gets to experience. I am thankful at this late date that I have many memories to look back on. Once in awhile I drive past some of the buildings these moments occurred in. Different names on the front or sometimes the building is gone. But I can point to that one little place on earth and say “There is where I once watched magic happen”. It is almost as if I was an observer and all I had to do is get out of the way and let it happen.

That’s a song right there, it just needs to be distilled down a little :slight_smile:

Distilled. Well put.

Wise words from Roel. I make a living writing music for indie films, national commercials, TV shows, doing audio post, ADR, mixing, etc. Whatever pays. But budgets are becoming smaller and smaller of course. I remember 20 years ago when I was a kid and just writing music for fun. What a life! Now it’s “work” and I almost NEVER write music/songs for myself any longer. Be careful what you wish for :unamused:

A huge like!

obsoleteman is a poet!

I have had 4 tracks released in the last 15 months and i have yet to make any money. Doing google searches shows my tracks popping up on tons of illegal mp3 download sites. It’s just the way it is nowadays. I am delighted to have my work out there and, as I have a full time job, I don’t have to rely on any income from my music, I do it because I love making music. As to how to make real money from it? No idea. I think most of the big artists make their money from their tracks being licensed to compilation albums, advert appearances and gigs. I’m sure I read somewhere that the guy who did that repulsive “all about the bass” track got around £5,000 from 178,000,000 streams!

they make good money with music, because they can sell their music, and there are many people who are interested to buy music if the music is great.

Much easier to reach millions if you are already established.

I get royalties occasionally, but that’s all.