Branch Out with your Music

Making a living in music has always been a challenge, but with digital music being so readily available it's important for you as a musician, artist, or band to branch out with your music. It's not enough to just press up some CD's and throw some tracks on your website and expect to make a decent living. Working as a musician means just that, working! It means getting up every day and hustling to find new ways to make money with your music. Several books have been written on the topic of 'Multiple streams of income' but for this illustration let's use a tree. For those of you who are unfamiliar with the concept I'll explain it here.

Picture a big tree. The tree has many branches, but since it's been sitting so long without care, it needs to be pruned. Every time you prune a branch, that allows it to flourish with leaves creating a full beautiful tree. Now think of this in terms of your music career. Each branch represents a way to make money through music. It's your job to climb the tree and remove any dead branches, sap, ants, bugs, etc. (obstacles) to allow the leaves (money) to grow on the Tree of Goodness. It's not easy but the benefits are worth it!

The roots of the tree are things like setting up your brand, your image, the foundation of who you are as a musician or band. The trunk is the gathering of fans and music contacts which is what supports all the branches. This is where networking and nurturing your fans is very important. The obvious money making branches are CD and download sales, merch sales and gigs. If you aren't already doing those things - start there first.  From there you can have as many branches as your tree can hold, and believe me the sky's the limit. The Future of Music Coalition even did a research study on this topic and found 42 different streams (or branches) to boost your income in music . Here's a breakdown of the list: 42 Ways to Make Money as an Artist

 Although their list is more extensive, here is a shorter list of a few popular money making ideas for musicians:

  • Consider licensing your music for tv and movies.
    • Taxi and musicxray are great services for those trying to break into this arena. Their membership allows you to submit your music for various opportunities you may have otherwise not been afforded.
  • Go Local
    • Watch your local tv station for commercials and shows. Write intro music for shows that air weekly and jingles for commercials showcasing local businesses.
    • Even local businesses without commercials may want a jingle for radio spots or their website.
  • Compilation albums and gigs
    • Partner up with other local bands in your genre and combine your efforts for a compilation album. If you don't already know the other players in your area you can use a website like ReverbNation to look up the popularity charts for your city.
    • Similarly, put together local concerts with other bands for a showcase of 'Rock' or 'R&B' or 'Country', or whatever your genre. Fans get to enjoy an afternoon or evening of their favorite music while you get new fans from the other bands performing.
  • Music, music, everywhere music!
    • Thousands of videos are being added to the internet every day....many of them need music.
    • Photographers need music for their websites (especially uplifting music.)
    • Videographers need music for their client videos.
  • Songwriters
    • Solo artists who don't write are always looking for new music.
    • Couples may be looking for unique ways to enhance their engagement, wedding or anniversary. Offer custom love songs on your website.
    • Same thing for new parents. Having a custom 'birth'day song for their newborn would be a keepsake to remember.
  • Seminars/Workshops/Lessons
    • If you are skilled at setting up studio equipment, mixing, engineering, or mastering hold a seminar or workshop for others interested in learning.
    • If you are a natural at singing or an instrument, consider teaching others as well.
  • Auditions
    • Try auditioning to be a background singer
    • Break into show business by auditioning for plays and television musicals

There are so many ways to use your talents to make money, it's up to you to discover what works best for you or your band!

What are some ways that have worked for you or others you know?


Super Squid
Posted by Super Squid on Nov 20 2012 7:12 PM
Thanks for the info, Allison. Xray sound like a neat place, may try it. When I had my album mastered, I did 2 versions... normal, and then instrumental versions. I am currently submitting to licensing companies with the instrumental versions, and seem to have better response than my normal music. Because our music is "odd," and not really indie, not really any defined genre as a whole, it's easier to normalize the instrumental versions than the album cuts. Scottie B. Squid
Allison S
Posted by Allison S on Nov 20 2012 7:19 PM
SuperSquid - Great to hear! Using instrumentals is a good way to get your songs out there and also get paid for it. Nice job!
D. Anson Brody
Posted by D. Anson Brody on Nov 21 2012 9:14 PM
I use a website that helps organize ideas into a nice fish-bone chart, similar to your tree. It's a fantastic brain storming tool for any brand. I have one chart for brand tools, one for different ways that money can come in, one for the project I'm currently working on, and one for all types of marketing. Check out
Dave Cool
Posted by Dave Cool on Nov 22 2012 7:37 PM
@D. Anson Brody: That Mind Meister thing is really cool, thanks for sharing! -DC
Wilton Said...
Posted by Wilton Said... on Nov 26 2012 4:22 AM
I've been doing private guitar and piano lessons for about 10 years now and it pays me quite well on top of my regular day job. The great thing about teaching is that it doesn't require too much extra work, and it basically allows me to put that money back into my own musical project. So all in all, everything is great. Wilton
The Hyphenate
Posted by The Hyphenate on Nov 27 2012 9:34 PM
This is awesome!!!
Allison S
Posted by Allison S on Nov 30 2012 12:24 AM
Hey Wilton - That's great! Teaching not only provides the extra income you need but it also keeps you on your toes with your playing skills. ;)
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