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How to Make Money from Music: 3 Passive Income Sources

How to Make Money from Music: 3 Passive Income Sources

music marketing 101 Sep 28, 2021

Here is how musicians can make money!

Both life and income as a musician can be extremely unpredictable. One day you might be on the top of the charts, and the next day, struggling to find gigs. The pandemic has proven this by shutting down concerts worldwide, which is a major source of income for a lot of artists. Hence, as an indie musician, depending solely on music for money might not be the best approach.

You are already aware of how to earn money from music conventionally, and therefore, we have curated a list of a few sources of income that a lot of musicians are yet to catch up on. The best part? These are all passive income sources. 

Being a musician full-time requires a large amount of work, energy and dedication. Passive income sources can help support you as they require less effort and time once they are set up. These sources will require that you put some work upfront when you are starting, but once that is completed, it can be a neat source of some extra cash with minimal effort to keep it active. 

But before we begin, let us understand the exact nature of a passive income source.


What is Passive Income?

The nature of passive income is, you put in the work, time and effort of making a quality product beforehand, and it starts generating revenue for you once you put it out. The income can be considered passive when after your initial work is complete, you only need a negligible amount of involvement in your product while it generates money for you.

In the music business itself, you might have come across several passive income sources, like the royalties generated after releasing a song, a new merchandise line or uploaded a video on YouTube if your channel is monetized. These might be considered as passive income sources

Passive income can also refer to earning money from subscriptions, where you might not have created anything new. 

Now that we understand the nature of passive income, we can get to the juicy part. Here are 3 types of passive income that most musicians are missing out on.


1. Affiliate Programs


Affiliate programs are one of the most common ways for creators of all kinds to earn passive income. They are especially common among indie or smaller artists. Let’s understand what affiliate programs are. 

An affiliate program, also referred to as affiliate marketing or affiliate model, is a type of advertising. It is dependent on the performances and scales accordingly. Big online retailers such as Amazon usually pay a small amount of money or commission to many parties which drive web traffic and sales, directly attributable to referrals.


In simpler words, you post a special link to a specific product or service for a site. Whenever someone clicks on the link and goes on to spend money on the item, you will earn a small percentage from the transaction. Big retail sites use the reach of popular artists to increase the traffic on their sites, and in return, reward you with monetary benefits. Remember the last time you heard a YouTuber mention a product casually, followed by the words “You can buy it through the link in my bio”? Yeah, that’s most definitely an affiliate link.


The biggest advantage of affiliate programs is, you are not at the mercy of the products that seek sponsorship from you. Artists are prone to facing financial troubles every now and then, and they are very likely to endorse an inferior product they do not believe in, just to earn a couple dollars to get them through the month. With affiliate programs, you can endorse the products you really believe in, and you do not have to lie to your audience!


Amazon Associates Program

Amazon is the largest online retailer in the world, and subsequently, the Amazon Associates Program is the biggest affiliate program out there. It is very easy to find the product you want to recommend on Amazon, and if someone clicks on these links and buys the product, you will earn a small commission from the transaction. 


You can give the Amazon Associates Program a go as your first step in learning how to earn money from your music by recommending a favourite guitar or a pair of drumsticks, a VST or even a pair of headphones that you really like. Does your audience want to know what audio interface you use for recording your music? Doesn’t matter, recommend it. 

You can also use Apple Music or Twitter’s music affiliate programs as passive income sources


2. Monetization

Monetization can refer to several different things in the music industry, but it is closely linked to the royalty model of earning money. Some of the lesser known ways to monetize your content include:

  • YouTube Copyright: If someone uses one of your songs in a video on Youtube, you can copyright that video. If that video has ad placements on it, you can earn money when someone clicks on those advertisements. Score!
  • Sync Licensing: You can earn money if your song is used in a piece of media like movies, TV shows or video games. We have extensively talked about the ins and outs of Sync Licensing here 


3. Fan Subscription Service

Fan Subscription services have recently taken off, and for a good reason. It (almost) removes the middlemen between fans wanting to support their favourite creators, and the creators themselves. 

How it works is, you can ask your fans to pay a small amount of money to, generally, get access to exclusive content from you. This could be exclusive snippets of new music, merch, or even just a zoom call. You can charge them monthly for this. This can not only act as an almost passive source of income but also help you build a closer and stronger relationship with your fans. 


Some common sites that allow you to do this are Patreon and YouTube membership. Recently, even Twitter announced its own membership model. If you really want to completely cut the middle man out, you can even make a website yourself!


You can use these different methods as passive income sources and research other methods which you might prefer. These can help you build a stronger relationship with your fans, learn more about how to earn money with your music and also get another stable source of income. But whatever you do, do not get into streaming frauds in order to increase your royalties from streaming services.

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