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5 Ways to Make More Money as a Musician

5 Streams of RevenueIn the traditional music industry, you toured to sell your recording.

In the new music industry, you record and distribute a CD so you can get out in front of the public and play.

In either model, 90% or more of an artist’s revenue comes from their live show. But for most bands, CD sales at your gig and being paid to play are generally not enough.

So what can you do to increase your revenue?

First of all, you need to have multiple streams of revenue at your show. But not only that, you need to maximize each revenue stream.

Here are what I believe are 5 of the best revenue streams, and how you can use them to make more money as a musician:

1) Being Paid to Play

Whatever you call it (fee, honorarium, etc.), this is a one-time payment for you to provide music. There are 2 ways to increase this stream of revenue: 1) get paid more, 2) do more shows.

Either way, it’s the quality of the live show that will make more money. When you perform, if people are captured and engaged, you create moments, and lives are changed, you will consistently get paid more than the other artists who just go out there and “rock” or “do their thing.” The live gig is a promotional tool, besides being an income-producing event.

Ask yourself, how many gigs did you do last year? What percentage of those venues are you being asked to come back to? Is your fee going up? Are you creating new (better) gigs? Honest answers will give you an idea of how good your show really is.

2) Merchandise Sales

Creating a demand for merchandise, finding the right merchandise, and displaying the merchandise properly, are all crucial to increasing your revenue stream from the merch table.

I can’t emphasize enough how massive the relationship is between merchandise sales and creating moments for your live show. Creating moments creates demand. So start there.

Then, make sure you have the right merchandise. If you have been intentional about creating moments, and have merchandise that revolves around those moments, people will come back to your table to buy. I don’t know your specific situation. But brainstorm and test market a few of the ideas you come up with that are based around those moments. The items that sell, you keep selling!

Set up your merch table in a strategic place at the venue and price it for easy exchange of money. Pop-up displays, covering for the table, racks for display, etc., make it look professional and inviting.

3) Sponsorships

If you are in front of people, you can create moments, capture and engage people, and change lives, you are valuable to a sponsor, I don’t care how “big” a name you are or not!

Know your audience and what kinds of things they are interested in. Then approach potential sponsors with an idea that works for everyone. If it works for your sponsor, works for you, and it brings something to your audience, then it can be an ongoing and potentially growing stream of income for you.

Make sure you know your obligations, and fulfill them as promised. You never know how many other sponsorships this might lead to if you can show you are trustworthy!

4) Charitable Organization Partnership

There are certain charities and organizations or “causes” that will sponsor you to spread the word about what their organization is doing. Well-run charities set aside money to make more money, and they spread the message through radio, TV, print, the web, and artists like you.

To make this kind of partnership work, the charity you are representing needs to be something that is appropriate for you, your music, and your audience.

Just like with sponsorships, you should know your obligations and fulfill them. But another important way to increase this stream of revenue for both you and the charity is to make sure you have a passion for what the charity does!

Read more about these kinds of opportunities here…

5) Internet

Live show and the internet? No, I’m not talking about streaming concerts. I don’t even understand the technology behind that.

No, I’m talking about building your email list at your live show, then following up with those fans consistently.

Be intentional about getting email names. Hoping that someone at your show loves you and is going to search online to find your website and sign up for your email list is not intentional! Do a free giveaway if they sign up, or have a drawing for a free CD. Anything to entice the people there to stay in touch with you.

And then send emails. Don’t assume that because you post your pictures on Facebook or tweet about an event, you’ve “reached out” to your fans. Weekly emails aren’t too much if you are giving your readers some insight, something interesting, educational, and relational.

Putting these 5 income streams together with an awesome live show will generate more income for any performing artist. Believe me — I’ve seen it happen every time!

Tom Jackson

Tom is uniquely talented and skilled at transforming an artist's live show into a magical experience for the audience; helping artists at every level create a live show that is engaging and memorable, teaching them to exceed their audiences' expectations and to create fans for life. Tom has taught indie and major artists of every genre. He has worked with Taylor Swift, Le Crae, Home Free, The Tenors, Shawn Mendes, The Band Perry, Francesca Battistelli, Jars of Clay, & many more. Tom also teaches at colleges, conferences and events worldwide.

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Greenroom Comments

  1. Thanks for your info Tom. You’ve taught me so much about performing live. Im 26 and I started doing it when I was 11. I progressed from churches, fairs and house parties to bigger events and medium sized clubs. Now I’ve released 3 albums on my own and toured the U.S. I found from watching your video’s on youtube that a lot of the things you were talking about I was doing when I performed to large captive crowds. But when I was performing to small audiences or non-captive audiences I didn’t know how to bring energy and emotion to those shows. You’ve really taught me a lot and I look forward to learning more from you. Thanks again! -Jarrod Turner

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