If there was any positive takeaway for musicians from the last few years, it’s that many found ways to generate more revenue online when live shows and touring simply weren’t an option.
With live shows now back in most parts of the world after two years of lockdowns, musicians are hitting the road to earn the tried and true revenue stream that comes with performing live.
The nice thing now is that there’s no reason why you can’t combine those online revenue streams that were generated during the pandemic, with live shows and touring.
Here’s a list of fourteen ways that musicians can make money with music online:
1. Sell music through your website
If you don’t already have one, you should build a website for your music. Not only does it give you a little slice of the internet that you own and control, but you can also sell music from your website directly to your fans (which is commission-free through Bandzoogle).
More than that, you will also own the data and emails you collect through your website. This is essential for the long-term success of your career. You can then use that information to let your fans know about new music releases, upcoming tours, crowdfunding campaigns, and more.
Learn more: The complete guide to selling your music online
2. Sell digital downloads on Bandcamp, Amazon Music, and Apple Music
While music fans may not buy as many digital downloads as they used to, digital music can still be a meaningful revenue source for musicians. In 2021, music fans purchased over 15 million digital albums and 7 million tracks through Bandcamp alone.
Distributing your music to major online retailers like Apple Music or Amazon Music can also give your fans a convenient way to support you if they already have accounts with those online retailers.
3. Make your music available for streaming
The vast majority of listening is happening on major streaming platforms like Spotify, Apple Music, and Amazon Music. This means that making your songs available on these platforms is essential to reach your current fans, as well as for reaching potential new fans.
While streaming revenue is usually measured in fractions of pennies per stream, it can add up to become a significant revenue source over time. You also want to give your fans every opportunity to support your career, which includes having your music available to stream.
4. Sell band merch through your website
Over the last two years alone, Bandzoogle members have sold over $15M in band merch through their websites directly to their fans, and all commission-free. This includes CDs, vinyl, t-shirts and other wearables, as well as digital items like videos and sheet music.
If you’re looking to start selling band merch online but not sure what items to offer your fans, you can try selling merch using a print on demand service like Printful. That way there’s no inventory to store, and no upfront costs.
Build a professional website in just a few clicks where you can sell music and merch commission-free! Sign up and sell music with Bandzoogle now.
5. Sell tickets to live stream shows
Even with the return of in-person shows, live streaming should still be part of your strategy to engage with your fans and generate revenue online.
The reality is that many of your fans won’t be able to come see you at an in-person show, and if these last few years taught us anything, it’s that when done right, selling tickets for access to exclusive live streams of your performances can help you make money and engage with your fans from around the world.
6. Offer free live streaming concerts with a tip jar
If you don’t feel comfortable selling tickets for your live stream shows, hosting it for free and setting up a virtual tip jar is a great option.
On Facebook Live and Instagram Live, this can be as simple as sharing your PayPal.Me link, Venmo username, or providing a website link with your viewers.
In 2020, with their album release tour canceled due to the pandemic, Bandzoogle members Enter the Haggis streamed bi-weekly album listening parties on Facebook leading up to the release of their new album. They set up a landing page on their website for each live stream with the album for sale, associated merch, and a tip jar, and ended up generating over $16,000 from those live streams.
7. Collect royalties for live stream shows
During the global shutdowns when artists had no other choice but to play live stream shows, performing rights organizations stepped up to offer a new revenue stream for musicians.
Partnering with YouTube, Facebook, and Instagram, PRO’s enabled artists to receive royalties from their free live stream performances. This included ASCAP in the US, PRS For Music in the UK, and SOCAN in Canada. So if you’re performing your original music on a live stream, be sure to check with your PRO to see if you can submit the show’s information to receive royalties.
8. Monetize your YouTube channel
The first step to monetizing your YouTube channel is to upload all of your music to your channel. From there, you’ll need to set up YouTube monetization on your account.
Also, any time music you own is used in a YouTube video, whether on your own channel or someone else’s, you’re entitled to collect your share of the ad revenue generated. A digital distribution company like CD Baby can help ensure that you get all the money that you’re owed.
9. Finance your next project through crowdfunding
If you have a growing and supportive fanbase, crowdfunding can be a great way to generate revenue to help cover the costs of your project.
The key to successful crowdfunding is to build excitement with your most engaged fans by showing them what’s behind the curtain and inviting them into your creative process.
10. Offer fan subscriptions
Fan subscriptions have emerged as a reliable source of recurring revenue online. Subscriptions (sometimes referred to as memberships) give your most loyal fans access to exclusive recordings, performances, videos, merch, and rewards in exchange for a small monthly contribution.
It can take a lot of work and dedication to consistently release new content and rewards. But if you’re up for the challenge, it’s an excellent way to form deeper relationships with your fans, and generate recurring revenue at the same time.
11. Monetize your music on social media platforms
Another potential source of online revenue for musicians is making money when your music is used in videos on social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok. Be sure to check with your digital distributor to see if they offer social video monetization.
12. License your music
Getting your songs licensed in films, television shows, and ads is easier said than done, but even one placement could be a game changer for your music career. Some musicians earn most or all of their income from licensing alone.
Connecting with the right music supervisor with the right song at the right time certainly involves some luck, but there are a few things you can do to set yourself up for licensing success.
13. Remote session work
Despite lockdowns and studio closures over the last few years, musicians continued to record and produce new music. This put a focus on collaborating online like never before, with artists hiring musicians from around the world to contribute to their latest tracks. This is something that will likely continue and can be another way to make some extra revenue.
14. Teach music lessons online
Over the last few years, many musicians found an extra revenue stream by teaching their instrument online to their fans.
Whether through Zoom or recorded video lessons, teaching music lessons can be a great way to generate some additional income. You can even take it a step further and sell video lessons, sheet music, and more using fan subscriptions.
You don’t have to throw yourself into trying everything at once. Some of these ideas might be more appealing for you than others.
Start by trying a couple of these revenue streams to see if you’re enjoying the process, and if they’re resonating with your fans.
Learn more: 21 ways musicians can make money
Sell music, merch, and tickets, take direct donations, pledges for crowdfunding, and create monthly fan subscriptions from your website, all commission-free. Try Bandzoogle free for 30 days to build a website for your music.
Build a stunning band website and store in minutes
- Promote your music on your own unique website.
- Sell music & merch directly to your fans. Keep 100%.
- Grow your fan base with built-in marketing tools.
Free 30 day trial, no credit card needed.